3 Awkward Feelings Tween Girls Have and How You Should Empathize

The other day I heard a woman at work complaining about her tween. Apparently, the tween was upset about her appearance and being a real pain in the you-know-what about what she was going to wear. Is this annoying? Yes! In fact, raise your hand if you’ve dealt with an annoying tween and her fashion quirks and tantrums. I bet a lot of you have palms stretched to the sky. Me? I’m still in preschool territory navigating younger tantrums, but when I heard this woman and her valid complaints, I couldn’t help but feel empathy for the tween.

It’s hard today to be a tween or teen. Social media. Smartphones. Technology. Kids are way too knowledgeable about adult life and adult problems. Marketing and the media have girls dressing like women before their time, in my opinion, and every time a tween or teen girl turns around, she’s being sent home for wearing the “wrong clothes.” If I thought puberty was hard in my time, it’s doubly so now. We are all so far from that time, though, that as parents and as people, it’s sometimes hard to remember those icky feelings of tweendom, like these:

Read More: 3 Awkward Feelings Tween Girls Have and How You Should Empathize

I’ve Been There,

Laura

Why You Shouldn’t Always Tell Your Daughter She’s Pretty

I hear myself saying “Oh, that looks very pretty” or “I love what you’re wearing” or “You’re very pretty” when I meet or see a little girl I know. It’s a knee-jerk response conditioned from years of growing up around five women and one man (my dad) who worked in the garment business and knows how to speak to women. One of the first things almost everyone does when they meet a woman is compliment her appearance.

Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty.

You look great. Fabulous. Did you lose weight? I love your shoes. Where did you get that dress? I really like your mascara.

She’s such a pretty girl. What a beautiful girl you are!

Read More: Why You Shouldn’t Always Tell Your Daughter She’s Pretty

Tell Her She’s Strong,

Laura

My Daughter’s Love For Princesses Is Battling My Inner Feminist

It’s hard for me as a mom getting a divorce and learning to fend for herself financially and otherwise to hear my daughter say as she plays, “The prince has to save me!” I have to bite my feminist tongue from saying, “You can save yourself, woman,” and OK, let’s be real here: it does come out sometimes. She looks at me like I’m crazy and just watched Cinderella in Japanese, not English.

Read “My Daughter’s Love For Princesses Is Battling My Inner Feminist

Wonder Woman Is Way Cooler Anyway,

Laura

What I Want To Tell My Daughter About Divorce

What do I want to say to my daughter about divorce? So many things … like:

“You are obsessed with fairy tales and still believe that the prince saves the princess in distress. As you get older, you will learn fast that you are no woman in distress, nor do you want to be! No one but you needs to save yourself. Until then, though, keep believing in happy endings and happily ever afters.”

Read What I Want To Tell My Daughter About Divorce in PopSugar.

With Unicorn-Filled and Cotton Candy Dreams,

Laura

Princess Coma: How to survive as a feminist when your day is dictated by Disney Princesses

My name is Laura and I am a feminist.

That could mean anything.

What it doesn’t mean is that I am a man hater, because I don’t hate men. You people piss me off sometimes, but I love men. Seriously. A member of the I love men club.

Feminism is a broad movement with many little subdivisions.

I happen to be the type of feminist who was raised knowing women can do it all, but I’m not against hiring someone for manual labor, as I couldn’t put my arm back on if it were attached with velcro. If I were good at manual labor, I wouldn’t, but I’m not. I will say that in the past few months I have attempted gardening and landscaping, which hasn’t gotten too awful or too great, so I’m not lazy.

I’m the type of feminist who believes in owning our own sexuality–and not being subjugated by it. I believe that the sex industry perpetuates our dilemmas, but I also believe women have the right to choose their own destiny both sexually and as a person.

I am both Madonna and whore, and yet neither.

However, once I realized I was having a girl, I made sure to tell everyone: don’t indoctrinate my child with Disney princesses.

News Flash: There is no Prince Charming. There is just Prince “okay for you.” He may be Prince Charming for a little while, but no one can stand up to that type of idealization.  There is  also no need to stand like an idiot trapped in a castle, hoping someone will climb up your hair weave, a la Rapunzel, and save your skinny ass. If your stepmother hates you and poisons you with an apple, you will probably end up suffering. The chances of some guy riding up on a horse and saying, “Look at that–some cute chick is in a coma because she was poisoned. I better kiss her and make her better,” is about 0 in five billion.

I didn’t mind my kid reading fairy tales as it’s nice to enjoy the world and be altruistic as little kids often are, but I didn’t want her to get wrapped up in the romantic notion that women need to be saved by a more capable individual, i.e, a man, and that once you meet someone and fall in love, paradise awaits you.

Mother in-laws exist to banish that sort of fable anyway.

I digress.

I always liked the animals in Cinderella, and Snow White, but I was more of a Dorothy, Alice, or Laura Ingalls type of girl. That’s who I imagined I would be until Madonna came around, and then I wanted to prance around in lace outfits and crucifixes (who cares that I was raised Jewish. Have you seen how pretty those prayer beads are? Serious stuff man. I begged my Catholic friend to let me wear her rosaries. She said no. Party Pooper. Would have gone awesome with my denim jumper, huge clip-on hair bow, wigwam socks, and purple mascara.) Of course, let’s not even delve into the fact that Madonna was not exactly the most proper role model for me.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to hump a dog and go on a gondola in Italy with a lion, while I’m half-dressed.

Don’t worry, there were plenty of good influences in my life–I did want to be Pee-Wee Herman for most of my childhood–not that it helped, but damnit, I did not want to indoctrinate my kid into Disney.

Nope. Minnie Mouse? Sure–just don’t make me listen to Mickey for more than five minutes. That creature has the most annoying voice on the planet. Sadly, I do a good Mickey.  Going to Disneyland and seeing some of the classic movies? Sure. I’m not a totally nazi over the topic. I can imitate a Disney character and sing the songs with the best of them, but I just didn’t want my kid to idolize dimwitted princesses who probably were barefoot, pregnant, and living over a stove once the fairy tale lights were out.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter. Everyone else has introduced her to princesses as she’s a girl, so they think she’ll love them, and golly gee, would you know what?

She loves them.

She doesn’t think to herself that Cinderella probably prostituted herself out that night to get in to the upper echelons of society. She just loves the songs, mice, and dress.

And damnit, all day long in my head is the song, ‘We can Do it, We can do it, gonna help our Cinder-elle–ee, there’s really nothing to it. We’ll tie a sash around it. Put some ribbon to it.”

I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Sleeping Beauty, Tiana, Snow White, Ariel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Belle. I give them their vitamins, brush their teeth, and make sure they’re in the proper spot at meal time (to the left of my daughter’s high chair tray on our dining table.)

They join us in the potty.

They join us in the car.

I even have the dolls with the magic clip-on dresses.

My mom bought her a Cinderella Barbie, which I have yet to give to her.

When any other kid goes near the princesses, fire and brimstone erupt. I swear my child plots the death of these poor kids.

Note, she’s two and doesn’t want to share yet. Totally normal, but not as funny as she wails while trying to holding every damn doll in her hands.

All day long, my mind whirs of “Feed child, walk dog, where’s Cinderella did I lose her again?, wash dishes, write, apply for jobs, wipe kid’s butt, was Sleeping Beauty a narcoleptic or drug addict?, eat a snack, wash my hands, wash her hands, and don’t forget to wash Snow White’s too.”

Our day ends and begins with these little dolls, in which my child reenacts the most intricate and sometimes rather imaginative conversations with these dolls.

The other day, desperate for my kid to chill out, stop chatting, and start eating, I made Cinderella tell her, “Less Talking, More Eating.”

I knew having the ability to switch my voice would work to my advantage one day.

As “Cinderella” disciplined my daughter, she wanted nothing of it.

She turned to the Cinderella doll and said, “No Cinderella. I don’t like you anymore. Go back to your video. I’m not gonna to be your friend.”

Freaking 2 and she’s already pulling that “not gonna be your friend” business.

I told her that wasn’t very nice…and later on I heard her tell Cinderella:

“Let me give you a hug. I’m sorry I made a bad choice. I’m sorry I said I won’t be your friend.”

And then, to prove the apple is part of my tree, she dons a Cinderella voice and says, “I was disappointed in you. You made a bad choice.”

The “two” hug and make up.

When my daughter sees princess bikes, towels, shirts, toys, or dolls, she hovers over these items whether they belong to her or not, and is entranced.

I guess whether I want them or not, I am stuck with these princesses, and hell, I’ve even started to sing her some of the songs from my childhood.

Why not? Hopefully I won’t get my feminist card revoked.

What I really fear, more than being forced to watch Snow White or Cinderella twenty times, is the fear that my daughter will make men count more than herself.

That she will want so badly to matter to the opposite sex, that she will forget who she is. That she might end up bowing down to someone thinking, “he knows better.”

These fears are all from me. She’s only two. She is still smart enough to boss boys around and know that it works.

And being subjugated or bowing down to a man doesn’t just require a female with a bad self-image, but a male with a poor view of himself.

We need to be conscious of how we socialize both young men and young women. The conversation is not one-sided. It’s multifaceted and starts at home, continues at school, plays out in the media, and is then enacted in society.

My role as her mom is to expose her to many different goals, activities, people, and viewpoints, with the reassurance that who she is is wonderful, no matter what, as long as she respects herself and others.

This means that for now, I get to wear tiaras, and watch her reenact fairy tales that while they may hold no real bounds in life, they are wonderful, fanciful, and simple for her and her world.

If only we could capture that joy in the simple that children have, we would all be much happier.

Excuse me now…one of the princesses needs a bath and the other, a dress repair.

All in the day of the Queen.

Missing Our Fathers: A Generation of people long for the men they never had. Father’s Day Discussions

As I peruse Facebook today, I started to notice all the highly emotional content of my friends’ statuses. While I am sure there are a zillion deadbeat mothers, when it comes to social media and Mother’s Day, I don’t notice the same emptiness and longing, unless it is for a mother who has passed away. This isn’t to say that mothers are inherently better than fathers, but that there are a generation of people, notably female, who are longing for the fathers they never had.

Some people were completely abandoned by their dads, and others weren’t abandoned, but neglected–some notably so, and others in a more hidden, behind closed doors fashion.

Post after post, women–maybe because I am female I heard more “female” voices–cried out for the father they wish they had, or wish they knew. Some had other men step in to do the job, and others did not. Some women mourn for their children; their children suffer the lack of a father, which hurts the mom and kids.

Our generation–my generation, was home to a lot of fathers who felt that paying the bills and coming home were good measures of strong parenting. While clearly many of my friends and acquaintances could have only wished for a man to show up and pay those damn bills, a lot of women and men from my generation lacked play, compassion, and nurturing from the person they called Dad, Pops, Father, Daddy-o, or what have you.  Mothers filled the other needs, and fathers were financial providers and head of the house.

With the advent of women in the working world, these roles have altered, and while some argue that woman working has brought on higher divorce rates, etc, the coming generations, such as my daughter’s are truly blessed to have a whole new breed of Fathers.

Fathers today are more active and involved with their children—on the whole. Yes, there were good dads back in the day, and there are shit dads currently out there sharing their sperm, but in general, our culture has formed a different role and expectations for fathers in this day and age.

It isn’t enough to pay the bills and come home Dads and Husbands: we want you emotionally involved and invested. We want you to cook, clean, play, put on some makeup during dress up, and wipe a few dirty asses.

I would love to see what type of Father’s Day posts will crop up on the walls of my daughters’ future 20-40 year old female friends. I suspect that the dialogue on fatherhood will be much better.

Men get a bad rap in many ways. You never hear people dishing the dirt on crappy mothers on their day, but with fathers, we as a culture–both female and male, really seem to be hurting. The good fathers and men I suspect, feel a bit cheated by the reputation that is held against them. The single mothers and children who have been abandoned by these men, have left a hole,  insurmountable at times, that these mothers have to fill.

I know wonderful single fathers, and some of these men struggle, while the women lack clearly in every sense of the word, but our culture doesn’t have much of a dialogue for these single men. There is no narrative or culture of empathy for men who parent alone, without a present mother. I feel for these men highly, but I also know that the dialogue and culture of empathy written out for single mothers, is based on a myriad of factors.

We Mothers embody a generation of children. The expectations are always that we will be nurturing, present, and active. Now we also have the expectation to provide financially. For a single mother, she not only has to fulfill the maternal roles, but now she has to be the financial provider. She has to pay the bills, show up, and be super woman, which is what society expects of all mothers usually anyway. I am not stating that we should empathize more for single mothers than fathers, but that to remember how much we automatically expect from mothers is significantly different from what we expect from fathers. When a dad changes a diaper, we all applaud him for being such an awesome guy. When a mother works full-time and raises kids, we nod and say,”That’s what she’s supposed to do. She’s a mother.”

Additionally, women make less than men, so now you’ve got a single woman trying to raise kids on her own on less income than what a present father would have provided.

Now don’t think I am pitying single moms–it’s the toughest job out there, to be a single parent, but most people I know don’t want pity–just empathy. I know amazing single moms that are so strong, and don’t feel a lick of sadness that Pops never shows up to be a dad, but it is reality that a single mom has some work cut out for her that a single dad may not have.

Please remember I am generalizing to some extent, and that obviously, a single mother who is a lawyer, is faring better than a single dad who is a grocer.

I think the Facebook and social media walls are all a “twitter” over fathers because it is also socially acceptable to speak of negligent dads. For my friends whose mothers have been disgustingly absent, it is a quiet topic. We expect mothers to be there. A negligent mother is horrifying, and crushes society’s hopes in so many ways. Think of all the horrific moms in the news in the past 10 years that we have absolutely hated without even knowing them because they were murderers, child abusers, and more. While we hated male/father absuers, killers, etc, we really felt our blood boil when as females and mothers, we saw abusive murdering moms on the news.

Our culture is invested in Mothers. We don’t shine a significant enough of a spotlight on them to really discuss the pains of those who didn’t have a mom to hug, or lean on.

It’s time to really evaluate what we ascribe to parents of both genders, and to reconceptualize what it means to parent. Men are weighed down by social mores as much as women; we just may feel it more because of the financial and societal sexism that still exists. I think we are getting closer to doing this on so many levels.

For all of you who are missing a father, loving your father, or appropriating a different man to call “daddy,” enjoy your day today. To all dads, whether you struggle to parent or find it the easiest and best job ever, enjoy today and keep on showing up and trying your best.

We need you. Today’s women and girls want you more than ever.

Dear Toddler: How You Can be a Better Child for me. Love, Mommy

Don’t get me wrong. My daughter is a seriously awesome little toddler, but there’s always room for improvement, right? Come on, even though every mom thinks her kids’ shits are better than gold, we all know that it’s never too late to work towards perfection, heh heh.

I mean, we parents are bombarded with manuals, books, articles, and seminars on how to be better parents. Aren’t we fantastic as we are? What about a little acceptance man?

Here’s my How to be a Better Child Guide.If I have to read manuals,articles, blogs, and recommendations, it’s time my kid follows suit.

#1 Acknowledge My Feelings

Today my child threw her pancakes on the floor. I was not happy. I said, “Mommy is not happy. Mommy is mad. You made a bad choice. I’m disappointed.”

She smiles until of course, I tell her she has to stay in her high chair while I clean her mess. *another way to be an awesome child is to not throw your damn food, but we will get to that shortly.

I say, “Mommy is mad.”

“No! No!” she shrieks from her chair!

No matter what I say, she says no to me. I feel like I am with a man–another person who doesn’t know how to acknowledge my feelings.

I am told to acknowledge my child when she has a temper tantrum or feels blue. How about she does the same for me, right? I scratch your back, and you scratch mine kid.

#2 Don’t throw food. Your mommy is a terrible cook

There is nothing more horrifying–minus discovering you missed a few pubes while shaving or realizing you are wearing your shirt on backwards–then watching in nail-biting slow motion while your child throws his or her food on the floor.

Listen ladies. I am not like the Pinterest mommies who bake and cook and do it with ease. It takes effort, serious Superman-like effort for me to whip up a decent meal. I finally started getting the hang of some 4 ingredient crock-pot recipes and learned where my broiler is (although I have yet to use it). It takes work when I hand her over a meal that may just take the average female a second to make, while they’re whipping up homemade soups, casseroles, and bread all in a matter of mere seconds.

When my child throws food on the floor, not only do I dread cleaning it, but I also dread the fact that whether later on or now, I will have to cook, again.

While I have to accept the fact that you my child, are short and have the patience of a flea, you must accept the fact that you weren’t blessed with Martha Stewart or even a mid-level chef for your mother. Eat every last drop of food, and don’t complain!

#3 Don’t ask to go on the potty after you’ve pooped, just to see Youtube videos.

Look kid. You’re short. You’re small. You will probably end up going to the prom in your rear-facing car seat, which only means I don’t have to worry about teenage pregnancy. If you would like to get a date before you are 30, please poop on the potty…not right before you go on, and then ask me to show you YouTube videos of Bert and Ernie and/or Charlie Brown. I get your game. You just want to watch the damn videos and have me change your diapers for the rest of eternity.

Just get ready for when I am back in diapers. I get constipated easily, and I will hold the largest poops just for you darling.

The final way you can be a better child…

#4 Stop paying attention to your dad all the time.

I know you’re a girl and that it’s normal to be obsessed with your father, but I suffered through hell for you. I was in the hospital for about 35 days with you, and barely ate. Truth be told, I was scared shitless of dying, and my resting heart rate after lying in bed for weeks was a 150. Yeah, I was not in good shape.

So just remember that when you’re showering your dad with love and ignoring me. He only had to make a quick deposit. Yup, it’s that easy for men.

Also, one day when you get your period and are moody and desperate for French onion dip and end up eating a whole bag of potato chips, just remember who will calm your father down once he realizes he is out of chips. Just remember who will buy you your first bra. Who will be there to show you how to put on makeup–I could teach you to wear tacky hot-pink lipstick with bright green eyeshadow if you keep favoring your father you know– it won’t be your dad.

If you remember this, I promise to never let you go out looking like a fool with a bra way too small or big, or in hideous tacky makeup. I also promise to let you eat all of your father’s junk food too when you’re PMSing, as long as you share some with me.

It’s wise to side with your mother as we truly are the ones who rule the house my dear. A penis-owning person merely believes he is in charge because testosterone causes men to experience senility faster. It’s mere survival of the fittest kid;stick with your mom.