Don’t Tell Her She’s Too Big

Don't Tell Her She's Too Big | Twin Cities Moms Blog

“Mom! I finally found a friend today at school, just like me!”

Just like you? 

“Yes! She plays with dolls too! But we don’t tell anyone, cause they will laugh and think we are babies. It’s ok that we still play with dolls right? We aren’t weird, are we?”

I am pretty sure that my heart broke in that moment for my little girl.

She is 11 and already painfully very aware of the social pressure to grow up too fast. Dolls and make-believe aren’t readily accepted in an 11 year old’s peer group. So she feels that it is necessary to hide that sweet part of herself.

And it makes me angry.

Who makes up these silly rules anyways? Where is this pressure coming from? Why does she feel like she needs to pre-maturely say goodbye to a sweet part of her childhood just so she can fit in with her friends?

Inside our four walls, she feels safe to be herself. She plays dress up with her little sister. The two of them spent afternoons together rocking their babies, living in a world of make-believe.

In our home there is no rush to grow up and every reason to savor being little.

It’s sweet and innocent. How it should be.

There is plenty of time for her to enter into a world of being a young woman. Right now she is a young lady, and there is a huge difference between the two. Child and Woman; there is danger in bridging that gap too soon.

Yet, even still, everything in society tells her that she should grow up.

Department stores sell clothes that encourage maturity. It is difficult to find clothing that is stylish and modest. I want my 11 year old to dress like a 11 year old, not an 18 year old. She doesn’t need pants that enhance her bottom, skirts that reveal everything, or a padded bra. What messages are being sent to my impressionable daughter?

Advertising tells her that she should wear make-up so she is more attractive. Attractive to whom may I ask? And for the record,  my little girl is lovely just as she is. Mascara and lipstick will do nothing to enhance her natural beauty. It makes me sad that marketing companies threaten to sabotage years of us telling her that she is beautiful with cheap $13 foundation.

Popular television programs highlight friendship drama, encourage disrespect towards their parents, and subtly sell messages of sensuality and sex. It is extremely frustrating to both of us to find a show that is entertaining for her and age appropriate.

I am beyond tired of everyone else trying to “grow up” my little girl. Leave her be. Let her run barefoot in the grass outside, building tents to have fancy tea parties with her favorite animals. Let her use her imagination to dream of dragons, princesses, and fairies.

Let her think that boys still have cooties and kissing is for mommies and daddies. Let her play with her dolls. Let her get lost in that world of innocence. Don’t force her into one she’s clearly not ready for.  Don’t tell her that she is too big for pretend.

Because she’s not too big.

She’s not big at all. She’s still very much my little girl.

Who still plays with dolls.

Cari Dugan is a lifestyle photographer and writer in Minneapolis Minnesota. She writes candidly about everyday life and experiences on being a wife and a mother on her blog Dugans in Cahoots ( ) You can also keep up with her on Instagram (@cariduganphotography ) Her husband, and four children make life what it is – A Beautiful Mess.


  1. This is a great post, Cari!! And it made me want to go dig out my daughter’s AG dolls from the storage bin in our basement (saving them for HER kids!) and play with them myself! ?

  2. Love this!!! I may be a few years late, but tell your daughter I played with my dolls until I was 14!! Best years of my life 🙂

  3. This article is everything! I already run into this with my three year old. A relative bought her a string bikini, and she’s the only little girl at nursery who wears dresses. The clothing struggle is real!
    She loves her stuffed rabbits and ponies and already older (6 yr old) kids take them and play keep away with them. She won’t take her bunny out anymore around other kids because of it. It breaks my heart. They are little for such a short time


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