In a superficial society that promotes self-doubt, rejects self-love, and sexualizes women, influential father figures are more important now than ever before. A good father-daughter relationship will mold the little girl into the superwoman she strives to become. I sometimes hear those who identify as men in this generation say things like, “ I don’t want to have a daughter because I don’t want to deal with their craziness and emotional turbulence” or “I want to raise a son so I can teach him how to be ‘a man’”. Some men feel their ‘manhood’ is threatened by being surrounded by women, and that their testosterone is somehow infringed upon because they don’t have male counterparts to engage with. Having a daughter can actually teach men how to be more tolerant, how to communicate their emotions, how to inhabit caring traits, and how to love unconditionally. Not to say that fathers of sons cannot pick up on all these qualities or don’t already possess them; just saying that women have a way to bring out the best in men in certain cases.
In the world we live in, we teach men to hide their feelings, to be the ‘manliest’ man possible or they will be thought of as ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ or something else along the binary spectrum they don’t wish to identify with. As a daughter of a father, here are five things I wish my father knew as he raised me:
1. Show my mom how much you love her every day.
Seeing how you treat my mom is a reflection on how I expect men to treat women. If all I see is arguments, resentment, ignorance, narrow-mindedness, and hostility, this is the ground I am going to base all of my relationships on (regardless of whether I recognize it or not). If you’re doing it right, I will want to marry someone like you one day.
2. Treat me like I am a princess.
On a personal note, my dad is one of those fathers who call their daughter ‘princess’. If you’re going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk. I am not a princess because I may find my prince one day; I am a princess because my father is the king and treats me like royalty. If you treat me well, then one day I will look for a guy that treats me the same and I will settle for nothing less.
3. Be there for me.
Proximity does not equate to presence. My father lived in the same house as my family our entire lives, but I felt that he was never there other than to scold me when things went awry. Being there for your daughter’s recitals, awards, competitions, games, ceremonies, etc. is a huge part of where she gets her self-esteem. Accepting an award doesn’t have the same glorifying effect if your father isn’t there to cheer you on and show you how proud he is. Not only that, but being there goes far beyond physical presence. Being this also includes listening to me when I am being emotional. Let me vent. Let me tell you how I am feeling, and why I am feeling this way. Simply listening can go a long way.
4. Accept me.
All parents have this perfect vision of how they want their kids to grow up, what they want them to be good at, what hobbies they pick up, etc. But if your daughter separates from that traditional path you envisioned, love her anyways. Respect her decision to be different. Love her for who she is, not what she accomplishes or the talents she picks up. Having an open mind has a huge impact on raising a like-minded, accepting daughter that will be valued by everyone she meets. This is especially important in today’s society where people need to learn how to be more accepting of people’s differences in such a diverse world.
5. Teach me how to do a real push up.
Don’t teach me ‘girly’ things just because I am a girl. Teach me how to fight with toy swords, shoot air soft guns, go fishing, play sports, build houses, put together a computer, learn the mechanics of a car, etc. Raising a daughter with these diverse set of skills will allow her to become independent much faster than most other girls of this generation. Teach her that she doesn’t need a man’s help if her car breaks down on the side of the road, or need assistance when she has to lift something really heavy. A girl who has ‘non-traditional’ characteristics and skills places her on a pedestal where she will rise above the rest. Teach her that when people say, “you throw like a girl,” it should be taken as a compliment.
6. Date me.
The best ways to make memories with a daughter is to date her. Show her how to have fun and experiment with new things so she can have a steady grip on determining what she likes. This also shows her how a partner should treat a woman, regardless of whom that partner is. Show her what it is like to intentionally respect and care for her.
7. Forgive me.
No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and you cannot control what decisions other people decide to make but you can control how you react to them. We are all doing our best in life and understanding that people mess up will help your daughter become the best person she can be by learning from her mistakes.
Behind every great daughter should be a wonderful father who taught her how to be amazing. A daughter needs her father in her life as the one man who never hurts her. Fathers should act as the rock of support and the greatest, most understanding security outlet she has. A daughter needs her father to be involved in every stage of her life to grow up a confident woman. So for all the dads out there, or soon-to-be fathers, take this post into strong consideration from a daughter with a father who lacked these things.