Today’s post is in response to comments about the dramatic
differences between raising boys and raising girls.  Why do tears,
raised voices, and sudden mood changes occur more often with girls?

“For many of us, understanding girls is like trying to fathom aliens who
just got off the ship from outer space….We misunderstand who girls
are because the dominant culture disregards their uniqueness by
expecting females to behave like males.”
 — Don and Jeanne Elium, authors of Raising a Daughter

The Eliums maintain that most girls view the world in terms of
relationships as opposed to boys who focus on conquest and
independence.  So there’s a fundamental difference for Dads in
particular to contemplate – the girls are just not going to act like the
boys.  Get used to it.

We then have to re-scope how we view our girls, and evaluate the
messages we give them about which behaviors are acceptable and

Let me be very clear to say that this does not mean we can’t
encourage our daughters to excel at math and science, or to become a
class leader.  If that’s what they want, they will manifest their desires
with your help.  What I’m suggesting is that if your daughter
consistently doesn’t fit your view of how she should act, maybe she’s
sending you a message about who she really is.

A lot of the drama from girls comes, I believe, from the complexity of
relationship issues whirling through their brains.  Is our relationship
good?  Is it fair?  Who am I within the relationship? What must I do to
maintain connection with the relationship?

At ages up until about twelve, they are desperate to be in relationship
with parents.  They are worried that their actions might not be worthy
of a parent’s love.  As they march on towards adolescence, they
mostly want to invite love from their peers.

Part of the drama also comes from a battle between who the girl really
is (true self) and the person they think will attract parent’s or peer’s
love and acceptance (false self).  I’m sure we’ll be talking about this
split in future conversations.

Raising a Daughter states, “The problem with girls becomes clearer
and easier to live with when we look at their behaviors from the
understanding that they need to make or maintain connection while
developing an individual self; that they seek ways to care for and be
cared about; and that these ways may at times be immature and

So perhaps instead of saying “Alas, the drama continues,” we have to
instead say, “Ayyy, my daughter is female, alive and well!”

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in
Northern Colorado.  For more information on her stepparenting book,
go to


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2 Comments on What’s all the Drama about?

  1. loretta says:

    Hi everyone. These seem to be some interesting ideas that Diane has posted here. My daughter, 11, still likes spending time with me, but she is also becoming more interested in spending more time with her friends from school. I wonder how this affects the girl’s values as they are influencing each other. She still needs time with me, but I have sufficient leverage with her about cancelling play-dates that it is very useful for getting her to meet goals like tidying her room or finishing a school project quickly.

    One of the earlier articles mentioned counting up to three to let the child know they needed to comply to your request. I have always counted down from five with my kids. When I am at my wit’s end and I find that my voice is raised and I’m serious that I want a job done, I quietly count, “five”, I look withdrawn, stunned or disgusted that it has come to this, “four”, I look and listen for proof of compliance, “three”,….Pretty soon they get moving and do as they were bid. I get over my disappointment of having to count as I got compliance and we all get on with things relatively smoothly.

    Another thing that works for me, is that I speak very softly and explain that it is very important to do this now, so that we can go out, or whatever our ultimate goal is.

    Other times I’ll mention that having a room tidied, clothes hung up, grass cut, dishwasher unloaded or whatever, is a prerequisite to seeing friends, using a computer, phone, TV or other toy. This works well. I mess up regularly and let the play come before the work. That does not often work!! These things still seem to work as the kids get older, so that is great. I just have to ask for work before play!

    I have tried the time out too. Even at age 12 or so, the child can still feel ostracized and naughty, so that tends to achieve compliance. Usually with my son, counting gets his attention. He knows that I can remove privileges if he does not comply. My counting is what I turn to when I’m serious and not happy. It’s usually my last resort. He knows this and complies.

    One of my issues is bedtimes. I am not good at getting the kids to comply and I’m not good at delivering consequences for this. We often have reasons as a family to be up late. It is our “together time”. I’m working at trying to have that together time earlier in the day.

    A second issue is how not to have to listen to whining about bumps and scrapes and friends. I only want to hear the important stuff. I’d rather share my attention in more positive ways. I want to help with the major scrapes, but a little one my daughter can take care of herself. I listen so that I don’t miss out on the big issues, but it is draining. Why can’t they just ask for attention in more positive ways?! What do you try to share with girls this age, so that they learn to be better company?

    It is good for my kids to know that their friends face consequences too as they do not want to face the same ones. This encourages them to all be “good” or “compliant” together. I like this!

    Good luck to everyone else who is having these issues too. Keep writing and keep us thinking Dianne!

  2. […] comeback that helps diffuse the potential magnitude of the outcome in these types of stressful (and dramatic) situations. Simply offer, “What’s the worst that could happen?”  And then, no matter what […]

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