23 answers

Tom Boy Issues with 9 Year Old Daughter.

Where to begin, my oldest daughter will be ten this month. She has been a Tom boy since she was 5. It started with no flowers or pink and has progressed to nothing girly at all. We are now shopping in the boys department for all her clothes and it is a little disapointing. She seems to worry about what others think when shopping, and will act like we are shopping for her boy cousins. I used to get so upset but have now become numb to it and do not know if this is the right way to approach it. I am wondering if I should be pushing the girls department on her and not encouraging her. Sometimes I fear that she would like to be a boy because there are so many times people will call her "little man" or "Bud" and she seems to not care. I have no doubts she likes boys because she is crazy about Zac Efron but she just does not have many of the same interest in things other girls do. If anyone has had a daughter that is or was this way please help a desperate mom out on what to do.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to all who responded. After reading many responses and stories I felt very comfortable with the fact that I have been supporting my daughter in her choices in clothing. It was so nice to hear some of the stories and a lot made me laugh. I also decided to ask my daughter again why she liked to dress that way and her response to me is that "she likes to look sporty". So thanks to everyone for their time in responding to my request. No longer desperate and realize I have been doing the right thing all along.

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I'm not a girly woman at all. I despise shopping, adore football/basketball/baseball and professional wrestling, would rather have Super Bowl tickets than jewelry, etc., etc. I am also happily married with two kids. It's a personality thing. She might grow out of it and she might not. But it's very important that you love her for who she is and that you show her every day that she's good enough as is.

If she's not getting into trouble and no harm is being done, then let her be. If you try to force her to be "girly" it will come across that there is something "wrong" with her, and you really don't want to go down that road. That will only make her rebel.


I guess my question would be what does she say about it? WHy does she like to dress that way? and depending on her reply you can see what she thinks and feels about the situation. Could you find girls clothes that are less feminine and make a deal with her where she wears those a couple times a week and hers a couple times??

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I wouldn't worry too much about it. I grew up a tom boy, girly until about 7 then heading straight for the boy's dept. I think it mostly stemmed from my father's disappointment that he had two girls instead of boys and being a daddy's girl, of course I wanted to be a boy because that's what he wanted. Plus, boys have more fun! They get to get dirty without anyone whining about their "pretty clothes". I was completely disillusioned about the female sex due to a mildly abusive, overbearing mother - she made me want nothing to do with women. As a teen it got worse, since you naturally come into conflict with parents anyway. The only way I ever rebelled was in my clothing. I went goth and then grunge. Of course my mother even tried to girly that up by buying pink flannel...all my friends were guys and I quite preferred it that way. Plus it had the added benefit of being a "friend" - I was the buddy so none of the guys thought of me as dateable, which I regretted at the time but probably saved me alot of heartache and trouble in the end, given the things I heard in the privileged status of friend. It's actually something I'm thankful for as I was naive and extremely sheltered.

But I grew up, went to college, fell in love, got married, had kids and am now a SAHM myself and loving it. To this day I find women exceedingly illogical and the prevalent mood swings irritating at best and have very few close female friends, none outside the church. But throw me in with a group of guys and I can whoop it up.

Accept who she is, if she's happy with who she is. The fact that she pretends she's shopping for someone else is bothersome, in the least. She'll hate it, but continue to buy her pretty things for holidays and perhaps she'll pick up one or two and like it and wear it. Suggest perhaps a spa day or makeover (once she starts wearing makeup, or even on her first menstruation) as a treat - a mother/daughter thing before she gets to where she won't be seen dead with you. Don't force her to be girly and love her for who and where she is, but I don't think a gentle loving nudge, or even testing the waters with just a suggestion ever hurt.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I have 3 daughters. 2 oldest are 9 and 11. My question is, "what are you afraid of?" Being a Tomboy is a good thing. I know everyone would like to dress their little girls up, but even the most girly girs will not want to wear the clothes you want her to wear. She is getting near the age she will do things, just because it is the oposite of what you want.
I would, however, tell her she has to shop in the girls department. Boys clothes are shaped differently, and sized differently. She can find tshirts and jeans and tennis shoes in the girls department, also. I would put my foot down about that, no options. I would also encourage her to play sports. Girls that grow up playing sports find their identity through what they do, not what they wear. Believe me, she will grow up and be boy crazy soon enough. Does she like Hannah Montana? I think she is a great role model. Take her to the movie!

C. K

the only things that should be pushed on our children are the things that are necessary to keep them healthy, alive and in school. push fruits and veg, plenty of sleep, and homework. if your daughter is happy as she is, why would you want to change her. it may be a phase that she will grow out of, or it may not. also i notice that you mentioned that she likes boys. if she didn't would you love her less? would you worry about a girl who only wanted to buy pink dresses, or a boy who would only ware his spider man costume? probably not, you would just make sure the costume was clean and chalk it up to personality.

My sister was that way even until her mid teens. She was always very into sports but back then (I am 52 and she will be 49 this year) you had very few girls sports to do at our school. Cheeleading and gymnastics were what she was really good in.
We always shopped in the boys department for her. She said she liked the way the pants were made. She had her legs made fun of once and when she could always wore pants.
When I married she was mad because our dad made her wear a skirt. We were married in a church and back then you just did not wear pants. I still will not.
She did grow out of it so be patient.
Tell her if she is embaressed about shopping in the boys department you want to just look in the girls. Tell her they always have different things and she might find something she likes.

I guess my question would be what does she say about it? WHy does she like to dress that way? and depending on her reply you can see what she thinks and feels about the situation. Could you find girls clothes that are less feminine and make a deal with her where she wears those a couple times a week and hers a couple times??

Hi B., You sign yourself "desperate," and I'm pretty sure it's not that clothes are all that important to you, so I'm guessing your underlying worry is that your daughter will grow up to be a Lesbian. Can I reassure you? First, there are many girls who are tomboys until they hit puberty, when all of a sudden they begin to dress and act in a more feminine manner. And even if your daughter keeps on being a tomboy in her teens, that isn't going to be a problem unless you make it one. Sexuality is a sliding scale, going from all feminine at one end to all male at the other, and most of us fit closer to th middle of the scale than to either end. So in that way your daughter is perfectly normal. Finally, if she did grow up to be Lesbian, would that be so terrible? As society grows more open we are discovering that more people are "gay" than we ever before realized. And they are perfectly nice, normal people. The important thing for you to do to make sure your daughter grows up happy and well-adjusted, no matter where she fits on the sexuality scale, is to love and accept her just the way she is. (As for me, I'd rather have a daughter like yours than one who thinks the most important thing in the world is whether her shirt and her jacket "go together.") Happy parenting! S.

I was big into sports as a child/teenager and beyond but I also cultivated a feminine side as well. You control the clothing your daughter wears having her dress as a boy seems like it is going a bit far. Is she possibly gay? Have you talked to her about gender identity issues? It is fine to be a tomboy but I never shopped in the boys section growing up there are plenty of non girlie clothes that can be bought for your daughter out there. You really need to talk to her seriously and see where she is coming from. Is she getting teased at school? There is probably books on this subject as well. I wish you luck with this issue and hope you are able to find a balance between her masculine and feminine side.

a tom boy isn't bad...maybe hard to accept if you wanted a girly girl. Have you tried going shopping without her and bringing things home for her to try? I'm not sure if she's into the "athletic" wear, but places like Dick's have female clothes that aren't that feminine. Online shopping might be good for you so that the both of you can look together at clothes from the privacy of your own home.

I know this has to be difficult but I wouldn't suppress who she is, or try to force her into what is accepted. This might lead to some emotional problems down the road. Your support is most important to her right now and her knowing that her mother accepts her for her choices is priceless. I think at this age, if you try to force her to change her preference, you will get rebellion in return.

I would try to make some compromises with her and look for some less feminine girl clothes, something with no frills and gender neutral colors like green, yellow, black, brown, white. Basic jean shorts, simple tee shirts. Does bargaining have any effect on her? Would she be willing to wear a "no frills" girl outfit once a week, or to a family outing in return for something she really likes?

I wouldn't worry about it. I would tell her though that if she has a problem buying the clothes that she shouldn't wear them. I was a tom boy all my life and still am. My brother and I shared clothes all growing up, my mom tried so hard to change it, and so did my grandparents, and I still despise them for doing so. I would suggest that you just leave her alone and let her wear what she wants to. After all, she could be doing much worse things. I also have had my husband try and make me change, and he has, but I still hate it. Not all people born women enjoy dressing in pink, wearing makeup, and being prissy.

Hi B.,

I have a thirteen year old daughter who has never been interested in "girlie" stuff until recently. I too felt disappointed because I always wanted to buy her cute clothes and things.....however, my daughter has her own ideas about what she wants to wear. She has always been into jeans and T-shirts...never wanted to mess with her hair or even wear make up...I gave up trying around when she turned 10....
So now she is 13 years old....and she finally wanted to get a few highlights in her hair and buy some powder (to cover up a few pimples) but other than that she wears boy clothes....
I have learned a few things through this experience....and that is....they are who they are and even though I may not understand my daughter sometimes....I have learned to embrace her interests and support her feeling good in her own skin.....not to mention she has taught me a few things about myself....You may have to let go....let her discover who she is in her own time....and if that means she wears boy things....then so be it. (Although from time to time maybe you could introduce her to some "girl" stuff) I try every so often....but my daughter just acts polite and says "you know mom, I like what youpicked out....but its not my style"....lol. Although I was worried too....she has blossomed into a strong young lady that doesn't care to conform and stands up for herself. She has even begun reading femist literature!!! So I just sit back and love her anyway and try to focus my efforts on her school stuff and being there to support her during these coming years. (btw....she too loves boys) but sometimes I think she dresses the way she does is because it makes her feel a little "tougher" than she really is.....she is a sweet girl...

Good luck

Awwww...the joys of self-expression. I have 4 kids and everyone of them so very different. My similar problem was my son who in his early teens decided he liked girls pants and mascara and black nail polish. Much to his father's chagrin, I got them for him. Because there was no power struggle involved, the novelty wore off. IMHO, I would tell you to support her and when BOYS enter the scene in more than a 'buddy' sence, she will most likely decide being a girly girl is a good thing.

trust me i know for one my daughter is nine this month and shes been a tomboy since shes been 5 too she just hates pink and just acts like a boy one thing i did i signed her up for a girls club last week hope it helps, my daughter already likes it i would suggest brownies or guides since last week shes not that bad but it only lasts a few hours after the club i know for a fact because she still totally totally tot hates pink

Hi B.!
My best friend and I growing up were two of the biggest tomboys you could find. She was even more than me- kept her hair cut short, wore swimming trunks in their pool (obviously pre-puberty), and often got mistaken for a boy, and we both played GI Joes, and he-man. I always hung out with my boy cousins while my sister and the other girls were playing barbies I was off building forts in the woods. I embarrassed my poor mother more than once in church complaining that my dress was itchy- just because I didn't want to wear it.
The point is this- she will out grow it.. it doesn't mean she is gay, or "gender confused" it just means that she likes boy stuff. Also at 9 she is soon to start puberty and it may be a way of not growing up too fast. I wouldn't try to push girlie things on her unless its for an important event or something- let her wear what she wants. You may be able to sway her into the girls department if you explain those clothes will fit her better and promise not to buy anything pink :)
I have found now as a mommy to 3 boys that my tomboy instincts are very much still alive- and its great to not bat an eye at the cool bug they brought me to see, or baiting a hook for them, or being pretty good at video games. My friend and I both out grew alot- we both like pink now and I have lace curtains, but a little tomboy still survives :)
One other thing.. to look on the bright side. Now when so many little girls are trying to dress like a bratz doll or brittney spears- it might be a really good thing that she wants to buy boys clothes!!
Good luck- I'm sure she'll be just fine!


My middle daughter, who also is 9, is also a tomboy. I am a single mother and she tends to do the "manly" things around the house (taking out the trash, killing the spiders, holding the door, etc). She has both an older sister (11) and a younger sister (7). Her sisters are way more girlie and wear dresses and skirts. When she wears a skirt you can usually see her panties because she still will not sit correctly in it and it comes home dirty and ripped throughout the day. I can tell she is uncomfortable. So, why force your child to be something she is not? I would think at this age, you would be equiping her with body confidence and the comfort of her knowing that you will love her exactly as she is and chooses to be, instead of trying to fit her in the sociatal box that we are told what a girl should be.


Let her be herself...I was the same way - haven't worn a dress in 25 yrs (except to my wedding - If I could have gotten out of that I would have!). Luckily, I had a mom that was happy enough to have dressed me "girly" for the first 5 yrs of my life - and let me be myself. Once you let go of your expectation of what you expect her to be, and love her for who she is, she and you will become more comfortable. Good luck to you!

I'm not a girly woman at all. I despise shopping, adore football/basketball/baseball and professional wrestling, would rather have Super Bowl tickets than jewelry, etc., etc. I am also happily married with two kids. It's a personality thing. She might grow out of it and she might not. But it's very important that you love her for who she is and that you show her every day that she's good enough as is.

If she's not getting into trouble and no harm is being done, then let her be. If you try to force her to be "girly" it will come across that there is something "wrong" with her, and you really don't want to go down that road. That will only make her rebel.


hi B.,
i usually try not to post the same things other moms have posted, but i thought in this case, the more people you knew could relate to you, the better.
the first time my mom took me shopping after i could talk i said, "mommy, no pink, no flower, no dress." all day long at school i waited anxiously to be able to come home & change into my dirty jeans & favorite snoopy sweatshirt. all of my friends were boys, i had matchbox cars, star wars figures & legos. i loved getting dirty & never, ever owned a doll. in fact, one time my maternal grandmother bought me a doll & i politely told her & my mom 'she would live at grandma's house.' i too shopped in the boys department exclusively. both my parents hated it, but they let me do it. i used to beat all the boys in my class at arm wrestling too ;-)
by the time i hit middle school my mom actually bribed me to get different clothes. it hurt my feelings terribly. i went through a brief phase with the popular kids & i did dress a little nicer then, but i found out they were so mean i went back to my roots so to speak. eventually i did go the punk rock route & that's when my parents really freaked. however, in 9th grade i decided one day to wear a skirt. it was of course awful looking as i had cut a dress apart & pinned it to leggings, but it was a skirt none the less. i agree with several of the other posts that cite puberty as a time for change in a girls attitude about her appearance.
i am now 35, a mom & a wife. i enjoy getting dressed up to go out (well, i did before i got too fat for my clothes). i wear make-up, get my hair cut at a salon, paint my toenails, etc. i'm still a tomboy at heart though. i love watching baseball, lifting weights & i'm quite attached to my hooded sweatshirts. the point is, it all evened out.
i also think current times tend to freak out about stuff we ignored years & years ago. no one ever thought i was gay, or trans gendered or anything. they just thought i was a tomboy, no big deal. just as you say your daughter has a crush on the high school musical boy, i had a huge one for luke skywalker ;-)
i know i can't quite understand what it's like to be the parent in this situation, but i wanted to at least offer my support from your daughter's point of view. i think your concern is genuine & as her mom you love her & just want what's best for her. my personal opinion is if you continue to show her love & support like you have been doing, she will be very appreciative & grateful for it as she gets older.

i would also say, if she decides she's no longer comfortable shopping in the boys department, don't make a big deal out of it. don't make her feel like you're so much happier with her because of the clothes she chooses. if you tell her you love her no matter what she wears, she'll be more apt to make her decisions from her heart, when she's ready.

i wouldn't push her too hard...or else she'll just rebel and it'll get worse. one of my best friends was like that whenshe was a girl...boy clothes, skateboarding, nothing girly or froo froo. she was jsut more comfortable doing "boy stuff." she started easing into more girly things once she hit high school...and she really startred noticing boys and boys started paying attention to her. just give her time...i'm sure she'll grow out of it. my friend is now a beautiful, very feminine, well dressed grown woman.

hi, well i just read alot of the other responses and they have all pretty much summed it up. though it is not what u had intended for her, you need to let her be herself, and accept her, so she accepts herself from being different than most girls. if you do not she will grow up feeling guilty with a complex. who knows, maybe she will grow out of it, maybe she won't. but she is still your precious sweetheart, regardless. i have some tomboy in me, and so does my little girl, so i am not speaking from personal experience, only from someone who is looking to the inside, and has observed several in your situation. your little girl needs to feel accepted and supported no matter if it is this or something else. supportive, loving parents is the best gift you can give your kids. take care, and best of luck. remember to keep handing out to her, all those hugs and kisses!!


Well, I was the same way. While most little girls at this age were playing with dolls and going on sleepovers I was going on horserides and playing with GI Joe's. My mom finally gave up trying to put the cute little dresses on me and let me dress my own way, jeans and a tshirt. I still am not one you will see all dressed up and could care less about makeup and fancy hair do's. If she does like I did she will go through a time where she will wear some girl stuff as long as it's not too girly (pink, ruffly, bows etc...). I was more comfortable playing with boys then I was girls and still to this day have more guy friends than girls.

Please don't worry. Both my sister and I were just like that (upon asking bathroom locations was always sent to the men's room even at the age of 12), my sister even went so far as to demand a boy's bathing suit! To make a long story short, my mom never said a word about it, and today we are both happy, content, well adjusted wives and mothers (thankfully both raising boys so don't have to shop in the pink and lace departments!). And, because we have always been in touch with our 'masculine sides' have wonderful understanding friendships with men. She will be fine.

I swear your discribing my sister. We actually called her Bob (Kristen was her name and my dad started calling her Kris-Bob shortened to Bob) She was nicknamed Mudpie at 5 because if there was mud she was in it. She had her best girl friend but most the time she hung out with boys, her hair was always short and no girly colors. It changed at probably 14 or 15. She went straight pink, spent hours doing her hair and make up and wanted to get her hair done by professionals. Her friends hadn't changed at all...puberty had.

She is just starting to "find" herself. Praise her individuality and help her select things she likes.

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