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A Mom’s Guide to 5 Rites of Passage for Girls

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If you’ve ever parented a girl through the hormonal maze of the tween years, you know that there’s a decision to be made at practically every turn. When should she be allowed to shave her legs? Wear a bra? Wear makeup? Pierce her ears? It’s so hard to know what the answers to these questions are because there are as many opinions as there are mothers in the world. How do you know what’s right for your girl?

We can’t give you hard and fast numbers, but we can help you think your way through the decision in a way that considers your daughter’s maturity and other factors so that you can be more confident in your choices. These rites of passage for girls will help you read the road signs and make a good call because it’s good to be prepared for raising a teenage girl.

1. Shaving Her Legs.

  • For some girls, being dark haired or part of an ethnic group known for darker or coarser hair can be a consideration. Leg hair may be more obvious on a 10-year-old brunette than on her blond peers.
  • Is she considerably self-conscious or embarrassed about having unshaven legs?
  • Is she mature enough to safely use a razor with a little coaching?

Consider the inward signs that accompany maturity for a girl. Take a look at our 8 things to teach your daughter about true womanhood.

2. Wearing a Bra.

  • Has her body developed in such a way that her developing breast or darkening nipples are visible in some clothing?
  • Are most of her friends wearing some type of training bra or camisole? In some cases, your  child may just want to feel like her peers in the locker room or at the sleepover, whether the garment is really necessary or not.
  • Is she heavy for her age? Some little girls (because of their weight) develop breast tissue a little earlier than others and might benefit from a bra sooner.

3. Piercing Her Ears.

  • Is she mature enough to care for her piercings by cleaning them appropriately and preventing infection until they fully heal?
  • Does your family have any religious guidelines or established traditions that would influence this decision?

4. Wearing Makeup.

  • Is she mature enough to use cosmetics with some restraint and follow your guidelines for what is appropriate? Does she have the skills to apply it correctly and tastefully?
  • Is she responsible enough to remove the makeup at the end of each day, caring for her skin as she should?
  • Does your family have any established traditions regarding the appropriate age for makeup?

5. Using Tampons.

  • With girls, starting menstruation at earlier ages and pursuing more active, athletic lives than previous generations, your daughter may want to try using tampons as a tween.
  • Is she responsible enough to follow the directions for safe tampon use and change them at appropriate intervals?
  • In the past, some felt that tampon use was only for women who’d had sex and that using one before could alter a girl’s anatomy in such a way that she was no longer a virgin. This is a myth. Only having sex can change your status as a virgin.
  • Younger, smaller girls can find tampons to be uncomfortable or challenging to use, however, and may need advice from you on which type to choose and how to use them.
  • If you haven’t already, your daughter’s first menstrual cycle is definitely the time to make sure she understands sex and your values related to it. Read our 3 favorite books for teaching kids about sex.

If you daughter has been through any of these rites of passage, tell us about it.

Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.


What’s the best thing about being a girl? What’s the worst thing?

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