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We have three daughters, and my husband jokes that none of them can marry until they’re 40. But let them get on his nerves with their estrogen-fueled drama, and he says he can’t wait until they’re old enough to marry off.

Age milestones can be tricky business, because depending on the gender, double standards can make a parent look like a hypocrite. My brother, who was three years older, was able to go out after dark and run around with his big-head boys at 10 years old. So when I turned a whole decade old, I thought I could do it too. Alice Russell would not have it. We’d argue, but she’d always win.

“But Byron got to do it! Why can’t I??”

“Because you’re a girl and Byron’s a boy.”

Besides stating the obvious, my mother’s reply had more to do with keeping me from being “fast,” which I didn’t get at the time, because at 10, I had no concept of sex. I thought babies came out of your belly button like how Robin Williams’ did the television show “Mork & Mindy”. What I didn’t get was that my mother was taught that girls running around at night get pregnant. Boys running around at night play basketball, football, and get girls pregnant.

So now that I’m a mom, I think I’ll try not to be such a hypocrite.

Here are some gender-neutral rules that will apply to all three girls and the boy.



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