I’ve been a Dad four times over now, but I never really believed that line by Gary Allen until I had my little girl. Little girls turn Daddies to mush. My little Emma can get away with a lot of things the boys never could. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that’s the way it is.
There’s a wonderful book by H. Norman Wright called “Always Daddy’s Girl” that chronicles the special bond between a father and daughter. So many girls and women today suffer or flourish in life-long relationships because of the influence or lack of influence of their fathers.
The fun, but sometimes scary thing about raising a daughter is that every Dad has the opportunity and responsibility to show her what a “real man” is and give her confidence to face the world with happiness and strength.
The truth of the matter is that Dads aren’t always the kind to sit down, sip tea with Teddy bears and teach with words, but the following 10 things are ways Dads can make the message sink in. I’ll try to keep the mushy stuff to a minimum.
Every Dad should teach his daughter…
1. How to change a tire and change the oil: Teach them self-reliance, even with things that society generally says are “men’s jobs.” Teach them how to count on themselves and know that they have the power to be successful and confident. Teach her to be tough when she needs to be and to be able to care for herself and others.
2. That it’s OK to wear pink: The other side of the coin is that every girl has some wonderful feminine qualities. Wearing a dress is just as valuable as wearing the pants. Society has made such a strong push toward conquering a “man’s world” that it has, in some instances devalued the natural, gentle and nurturing qualities and power of woman and mothers. Honor and respect the sacred and exclusive calling of motherhood.
3. You are Beautiful no matter what: Beauty is more than physical, but I have never met a girl that did not love to hear that they are beautiful. The world can be cruel. When zits start to dot the landscape of her face or she gains a few pounds, she always needs to hear her Daddy tell her she is beautiful.
4. You are more than beautiful: Teach her that she is not an object, she is your daughter! Show her how men should treat women by your example. The media objectifies woman more now than ever before and Dads are the greatest force against the barrage of body messages sent at our daughters. Make sure you’re not only complementing her physical beauty, but her mind, her kindness and her beautiful character. Show her that you value these traits in the women in your life, especially her mother.
[Tweet “You are more than beautiful”]
5. How to open her mouth: Strength and assertiveness are not masculine or feminine, it has to do with character. Help her learn to say “no” to people and to stand up for things even when it is not comfortable or popular.
6. How to keep her mouth shut: Gossip and back biting are common, especially in today’s technological society. We live in a culture that glorifies “mean girls” in media. Bullies don’t have to be two hundred pound brutes any longer, with facebook and other social media. All it takes is cruel words, gossip and rumors. Teach her to treat others with kindness and to seek to add value to others rather than take away.
7. Use good judgment but don’t be judgmental: There is a strong sentiment coursing through society that says that we shouldn’t judge. Everywhere we look, if someone expresses an opposing viewpoint, people scream, “Don’t judge me!” This is utter non-sense, of course. After all, we want our kids to have “good judgment” to make decisions that will place them on a path to happiness and success. However, society often criticizes those who choose not to participate in things that they feel are immoral or that simply do not lead to happiness, and label them “judgmental.” Expressing opposition or asserting a standard, has nothing to do with condemning the individual that subscribes to a different belief or practice than you. However, it has everything to do with setting appropriate boundaries that guide our lives toward joyful living. For instance, if my daughter is asked by a friend to attend a party where there will be underage drinking and promiscuity, and she says to her friend, “Not a chance and I don’t think you should go either,” Her friend may feel that she is being judgmental. But really, she is just showing good judgment.
[Tweet ““Our friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”(Edna Buchanan) “]
I once saw a quote that said, “Our friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”(Edna Buchanan) Countless leaders throughout the world have talked about how we become the average of the top 5 to 10 people we spend our time with. Teach them to be kind and loving to others, no matter what, but that kindness does not require that we follow friends off a cliff of destruction. Teach our children to have “good judgment” in whom they spend their time with and how they spend that time. Teach them to invite friends to use the same “good judgment.” This will have a powerful impact on the cycles of growth in their life.
8. What a “real man” and relationship look like: When your daughter gets to the dreaded dating age she should always know how a man should treat her. I’m not talking about the spoiled little girl that expects that everyone call her a princess and buy her things. I’m talking about expecting respect and courtesy. I’ve found in my research and in my personal practice as a counselor that the best way to teach your daughter that she is worthy of kindness and respect and should not settle for the opposite, is to model it by how you, as a father, treat their mother and people in general. A girl that has become accustom to yelling, name calling, and, heaven forbid, verbal, emotional or physical abuse from their father, views that as normal in their relationships as they grow and mature. Some even associate it with what love looks like in their mind. Fathers can have a significant effect on preventing generational cycles of abuse and promoting their daughters relationship and marital happiness by showing her a standard of self control and kindness.
9. To manage her money: Girls are historically more right brain learners. They lean toward creative ventures and arts. Sometimes, simply due to this disposition, parents and the whole learning system let financial education fall through the cracks more readily with our daughters. In a previous post I wrote on this same topic, I had left this point out of my list of things to teach our daughters. Many of the comments were devoted to adding “money management” to the list of the most important things we need to teach our daughters. This is a little thing that can have a huge impact on all areas of her life.
10. That I love her… Always: I love you when you’re smiling. I love you when you cry. I love you when you spill your sippy cup on the couch. I love you when give me that homemade Father’s Day card of scribbled hearts. I love you when you tell me “no” and turn on the silent treatment. I even love you when you stop thinking Dad’s quite so cool. I love you when you go to prom and when you come home late. I love you when you wreck the car. I love you when you cry again as you leave our home, never to live there again. I love you when you find “the one,” even though he’ll never quite measure up. I love you when you don’t invite us over quite as often because you’re busy with your own family. I love you… Always! Never forget it and always show it.
So, be the “real man” in your daughter’s life that will give her trust and confidence in her future and the capability to face it.
Question: What are some things that you feel every Dad should teach their daughter?
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If you liked this post, take a look at “10 Things I Need To Teach My Kids Before They Leave Home” or “The 3 Part Formula for Connecting without Any Words” or “13 Dad Truths.”
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