As Marisol Santiago wrote, “a girl’s first true love is her father.” A father has the power to make his daughter kind, smart, confident, and courageous. The following are 4 ways a dad can raise strong daughters.
Dad sets the example of the love that she will seek for the rest of her life. He can help her or he can defeat her. A truly great father can make his daughter so much stronger than she could have been alone.
4 ways a dad can raise strong daughters
Here’s how to do it:
1. Mop the floor from time to time
Wash the dishes. Change a diaper. Cook a healthy and delicious meal. Women who work full time still tend to do more housework than their husbands. Unfortunately, this is true even if they work longer hours and earn more money than their partner. As a result, ambitious women (women like your daughter will one day become) are doing too much. They are stressed, exhausted. It is up to you to change this for your daughter. Your daughter is setting expectations for her future husband, and she’s doing it by looking at you. Show her that the man she is marrying should help with the housework, and that he will not be less masculine for doing so. This will give you the freedom to pursue a career one day without guilt or unrealistic expectations.
2. Be yourself
Lead by example and own your identity with pride. Dare to be different from your friends and family. Encourage others to do the same. Show her that she should hug the person that she is. Teach her that you will love and accept her regardless of her personal choices. By simply being yourself and accepting others to do the same, you are making it safe for her to forge her own path. Go for what you really want in life, and be proud that she’s watching you do it.
You are showing him how to go after his own dreams one day. You are teaching him to do this, even if his ambitions are different from yours. You are also teaching her that people who have different goals and personalities can love and respect each other. All are valuable in their individuality. This idea will open your eyes and give you an expansive world view. This is how you raise a leader.
3. Treat your mother, and all women, with respect
This is easy and obvious if you are married to the mother of your children. It becomes much more difficult if she is a woman from your past that you prefer to leave there. Your daughter’s mother can be manipulative, malicious, dishonest, insane, or even hateful. None of this changes her role in your daughter’s life.
She is forming an image in her mind of how a man is supposed to treat a woman. Like it or not, you and his mother are the people he looks for the most as examples. If you treat your daughter’s mother with contempt and disrespect, you are showing your daughter that this is an acceptable way for a man to treat her one day.
This doesn’t just apply to the way you interact with her directly. Saying nasty things behind their backs also teaches your daughter not to count on the courtesy and respect of the men in her life. Don’t give your ex-wife the treatment she feels she has earned. Give your daughter the role model she deserves.
4. Tell her that she is beautiful and, most importantly, that she is kind, smart and funny.
Many well-meaning dads avoid the idea of complimenting their daughters on their physical beauty. They worry that doing so will foster only a focus on physical praise. While this practice is sound in theory, it does not represent the world we live in. Unfortunately, your daughter is bombarded by messages about physical beauty every day.
She needs to believe that she is beautiful, and she needs to know what appreciation of her beauty should be like. This is in your hands, more than anyone else. A girl who doesn’t think she is beautiful may despair for attention and validation. A girl who does not know how her beauty should be appreciated may mistake a plea for a compliment. Make sure your daughter knows that she is beautiful. Make sure she also knows that physical beauty is one of the least important things a woman has to offer. It complements its internal qualities twice as often as external ones.
Like her dad, give her the support she needs to be a woman in a world where femininity itself is so complicated and challenging. You have a unique role in his life and a special power to shape who he becomes.