Tips for New Dads With Daughters

baby Oct 31, 2019
Tips for New Dads With Daughters

There’s a unique kind of magic that unfolds when the toughest, strongest dads lay eyes on their newborn daughters for the first time. Even those rugged, macho men can transform into tender-hearted marshmallows, completely captivated and “wrapped around their little fingers.” However, as enchanting as this bond can be, it’s not always a walk in the park for new or first-time dads navigating the world of tea parties, tutus, and temper tantrums.

Contrary to their sons — where the path often seems more straightforward — raising a daughter comes with its unique set of challenges. You see, dads can inadvertently treat their daughters differently than they do their sons. This difference — although usually born out of love or a simple lack of understanding — can potentially brew insecurities, jealousy, or resentment down the line.

The good news is it isn’t always this way with all dads and daughters. You and your own little princess can break the stereotype.

Understanding and acknowledging these differences is the first step to doing so — and we’re here to help you navigate the rest of the journey. Buckle up, new girl dad! Get ready to dust off those old gender stereotypes with our top tips below.

Don’t Be Afraid of Physical and Rough Play

Some people might tell you not to let your daughter play as rough-and-tumble as boys — do not listen to them! It’s true that some girls don’t like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone.

Findings published in the journal “Behavioral Neuroscience” shows that dads tend to engage in physical or rough-and-tumble play with their sons more than they do with their little girls. Avoid falling into this trap of reinforcing the stereotype that girls are delicate creatures who can’t, shouldn’t, or won’t get dirty or roughhouse.

Invite her to play tag, hide-and-seek, or even initiate playful wrestling once she’s older. Let your daughter explore and experience different types of play, whether it’s a tea party with her dolls or running around playing sports.

If you’re too afraid to play a little bit rough with your daughter, you can end up stunting her development and learning. Studies show that rough-and-tumble play helps children develop skills, like bargaining and social signaling, as well as self-control. Moreover, physical play offers health benefits and may even help her learn aggression regulation.

Compliment Beyond Appearance

Always be mindful not to overdo or only ever give compliments about your daughter’s looks — even if in your eyes, she’s the cutest and most beautiful girl ever.

It’s natural to want to tell your daughter how beautiful she is, but remember, she can’t control her looks. At the end of the day, your compliment can seem superficial. Instead, focus on complimenting her about something she has control over.

Examples of these include her intelligence, creativity, kindness, courage, or humor. You can also say something like, “I’m so lucky to be your dad,” or “Your hard work paid off!”

Make it a habit to use encouraging and achievement-related language. You want your daughter to feel good inside — and more importantly, to feel good about talents and abilities, not just her appearance. Remember, when you feel good about yourself, it often shines through outside, but the same can’t be said in reverse.

Avoid “Pinkification”

“Pinkification” is just a word that means putting your daughter in all pink clothes, giving her only pink things, or playing with only “girly” toys. The whole “pink-is-for-girls” and “blue-is-for-boys” stereotype is very outdated — and basically only used in hospitals for quick identification.

Avoid limiting her choices based on gender stereotypes. Girls can — and often do — end up loving other colors! They can like wearing a wide variety of clothes and playing with various games or toys.

Instead of deciding that pink things and girly toys are her thing, ask your daughter. Encourage her to try out different activities and hobbies regardless of whether they are considered traditionally feminine, masculine, or gender-neutral. Let her wear pink if she wants today and blue, purple, or green on another day. Let her play with her dolls or play baseball in equal measure.

The key here is to let your child choose. It’s not about pushing her towards a certain direction, but allowing her to be a unique individual and making her own decisions, starting with small ones like what she would like to wear.

Don’t Limit What She Can Do

At the end of the day this is the key lesson new girl dads should learn — do not limit your daughter on what she can do. We know you have an urge to protect your little princess, but protection doesn’t mean you have to keep her confined in a tower — or to only the things you approve of as safe or traditional for girls.

There are differences between sons and daughters, but how you treat them shouldn’t vary a whole lot, especially when they are still so young.

It’s important to mirror the freedoms and opportunities you’d have given your son to your daughter. This impartiality extends to everything from color preferences and toy selections to participation in various sports and activities.

By not differentiating between sons and daughters, you’re fostering an environment of equality, boosting your child’s self-confidence, and empowering her to explore her interests and potentials without any gender-bound restrictions.

If she wants to play rough, run around, and get down and dirty, then allow her to do that. This helps cultivate a mindset that transcends traditional gender roles and will only help your daughter to grow into a well-rounded individual.

The Secret to Strong Father-Daughter Bonds

Your daughter isn’t as delicate as what others might have led you to believe — unless, of course, she’s still a literal infant. Once she’s older and stronger, she can run around and play with all the boys.

Remember, your role as a new girl dad is instrumental in shaping your daughter’s self-esteem, as well as her perception of the world, herself, and her capabilities.

As much as possible, give your daughter the freedom to explore her potential, regardless of whether what she wants is seen as girly or not. With a tough yet loving father like yourself, you can rest assured that she’ll grow into a strong and amazing individual.

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