Why Telling Your Daughter To Be A 'Good Girl' Is An Epic Mistake

Photo: Jessica Offer
feminism self-esteem

We live in a society where there's a huge emphasis on females being a "good"-something.

Good girl.

Good baby.

Good daughter.

Good wife.

Good mother.


Can we just stop and explore all this for a moment?

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According to the general population, a little girl is only "good" if she is overly feminine, obedient, quiet, and clean.

A baby is only a "good" sleeper if she sleeps through the night from a very early age.

A daughter is only "good" if she pleases her mother and puts her needs second to her mother's.

A wife is only "good" if she has an immaculate house, makes love to her significant other regularly and with enthusiasm, and has dinner on the table and a laundry bucket of the non-overflowing variety.

A mother is only "good" if she plays endlessly with her children, is patient at all times, always puts her needs second, provides healthy and varied nutritional meals for her offspring, and is generally at the beck and call of her children at all times.


Firstly, little girls come in all varieties: they can enjoy trucks, enjoy playing in the dirt, love blue, they can love playing with dolls, can love soccer or dinosaurs. They can be outspoken, spirited, and filthy, and they can also be shy and quiet, too.

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In fact, even though it's frustrating for us parents while we navigate this journey that is raising small girls, shouldn't we be encouraging them to find their voice and USE IT in a world where so often women are put on the peg below men just because they don't have a penis?

There is SUCH a double standard that exists in our world; isn't it a survival mechanism for little girls to question authority, push the acceptable boundaries that exist, and have their voices heard?

As for the good baby situation, are you for real? Does a child become suddenly "bad" and unlovable if they aren't sleeping all night, are waking (as is biologically normal), and need to be held a lot (as is biologically normal)?

Why is there this expectation that we make a baby, grow a baby, birth a baby, and then as soon as they are earth-side, we spend no time just being with them but forcing them to be independent? And then we act completely put-out when they don't toe our line and act according to our desires.

For f*ck sake, what is the rush? Babyhood and childhood — both are so fleeting. Slow down. Hold them. Embrace them. Breathe them in.

Daughters are definitely a lot easier to have around when they put everyone else's needs first. But at what cost? Do we really want to raise little girls to be women who are happy to be shoved on the sideline, happy to come second, happy to have their own needs and identity lost because they're deemed insignificant or inferior compared to the needs of others?

I sure as hell don't want to raise my girls to be compliant. They may be feisty, loud, and opinionated, and drive me around the bend at times but I know that when they're older and have pressure on them, they'll hold up their own against it.

Wives and husbands or wives and wives make up a team. If one works and is at home, one isn't worse off than the other; they just have different roles — and they're both f*cking hard. They require support and understanding.

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Sex isn't a need  it's a want, a desire. And it isn't a given. It doesn't exist purely because it does. Relationships and libido ebbs and flow, and not only is that OK but it's the nature of life.

Women aren't doing their partners a disservice by not putting out, just like they're not being put out if it isn't happening for their significant others. Stop the expectations. Start communicating properly. Use a damn whiteboard if need be.

And finally: isn't a good mother one that mindfully spends her time raising her children to be loving, compassionate, considerate, and independently-minded little people, tolerant and accepting of others? One that encourages self-love?

Photo: Author

Good mothers put their own needs first at times, even when they don't believe they're worthy of it. Because they always are. Good mothers encourage their children to be self-sufficient while also maintaining the connection with their offspring that solidifies their attachment in times of utter disarray, uncertainty, and chaos.

Good mothers encourage their children to embrace the utterly messy, loud, chaotic, exciting, free, and liberating thing that we call childhood. Words are definitely powerful. And their definitions are worthy of exploration.

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Next time someone asks you if your daughter, baby, or wife is "good," I challenge you to ask them what they mean exactly.

Jessica Offer is a writer for Yourtango who specializes in parenting and family topics.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.