We are all a product of the influence other people have had on us throughout our lives. All of the good and all of the bad are, many times, caused by interactions we’ve had, over the course of our lives, with other friends or adults.
Remember those times you would ask about spending the night at a friends’ house or about going over to someone’s house to play? How many times did your parents say, “No. They are a bad influence on you?” If they never said it, they were thinking it!
Your parents knew what their parents knew before them: We are a product of the other people’s influence in our lives.
If that’s the case, we need to realize the impact we can have on the development of the children in their lives. We can never overestimate the impact we have on who our kids grow up to be.
While fathers play a vital role in guiding their sons – after all, boys want to be just like their dads – they have a unique kind of relationship with their daughter. This uniqueness is based on the fact that girls have different needs than boys. Dads of daughters have the opportunity to instill a sense of stability, safety, and resilience in their little girls.
If you’re a dad of a little girl, you are able to teach – through words and behavior – valuable life lessons that will help shape and mold your daughter into an awesome young woman.
So, here are 7 lessons that we should all be teaching the girls in our lives.
You are perfect just the way you are
Let’s be honest. Our society puts a lot of pressure on how girls should act, look, and live their lives. Combine that with the daily use of social media and other online platforms and you have a recipe for serious self-esteem issues.
As dads, in the face of this kind of culture, we need to teach our daughters that that perfection is a fallacy. We can do that by:
- Telling them they’re beautiful for who they are, not because of the outfit they’re wearing
- Letting them know that you are proud to be their daddy because of who they are
- Not comparing them, or yourself, to people you see online. They need to know that they don’t need to be like everyone else.
Show the importance of health and wellness
There are healthy and unhealthy ways to do this. The unhealthy way to teach our daughters about food and wellness is to tell them things like, “That’s going to make you fat… if you eat too much of that, you aren’t going to look like those other skinny kids…” Obviously, we know that saying these things can do damage, but sometimes, in the heat of the moment, dads say stupid stuff.
We’ve all said things we wish we could take back.
So, what’s the number one, best way to teach your daughter about self-care, diet, and wellness? Model a healthy lifestyle at home!
Show them you enjoy eating healthy food. Bring them with you to exercise – not because you want them to look better – but because you want to spend time with them and invite them into your life.
Dedicate time for the family
Most dads are wired to provide for and support their families. They work hard and pride themselves on being able to give their families, especially their kids, a great life.
That’s all good. But, like all good things, it can quickly go south.
At the expense of family time, and even self-care, dads can devote too much time to their jobs.
If this describes you, please don’t feel shame. Just acknowledge the situation and promise yourself that you’ll get better. Block time out in your schedule for family time, to show your daughter that she’s more important than money, the size of your house, or family vacations.
You can do hard things
Jordan Peterson once said, “You don’t protect your children. You expose them to the world as much as you possibly can and you make them strong. That’s the best antidote to their vulnerability.”
Print those words and hang them in your office!
It’s the job of a father, as counter-intuitive as it may feel, to prepare his daughter for life. This means allowing her to fall and get back up, to fail and discuss it afterward, to push through things that are hard.
Why? Because that’s what successful people do. They do hard things. And when they are done with one hard thing, they move on to the next one.
So, dads, this is an important lesson to teach your girls: “You can do hard things.” If you can instill that early on, your daughter will have increased self-confidence, self-motivation, and will persevere when her peers might give up.
Look at things from different angles
Whether it’s true or not, men, more than women, are known for their ability to think objectively and to view situations from different angles. The truth is that this is a trait that can be learned by anyone – regardless of gender.
So, just like you might do for your son, be intentional about teaching your daughters how to think critically about problems. Show them how to remove personal emotion or perspective and view things from other points of view.
When your daughter encounters a problem, there are a couple of ways to help her develop critical-thinking skills:
- Play “devil’s advocate.” Argue for another side and force her to defend a position
- Ask questions like, “Have you thought about it like this?” Show her what it looks like to see a situation from another person’s perspective.
- Be comfortable with conflict. It’s okay to start a conflict on purpose. Do this in an age-appropriate way, of course. But argue with your daughter and make her flex muscles that she may not naturally flex.
Your daughter, who may not like it at the time, will thank you later for teaching her the power of looking at situations from different angles.
Podcast Ep. 171 – 8 Life Lessons Every Dad Should Teach His Daughter
Baby Boomers were famous for being helicopter parents. They were over-involved in every aspect of their children’s lives. You know the type: the ones who yell at umpires at tee-ball games, the ones who will bribe a teacher to give their son a better grade, the ones with “find a friend” connected to their child’s phone (okay, we may all be guilty of that last one).
An important lesson to teach our daughters is self-sufficiency; that they don’t need their parents to step in when they are in trouble; that they can handle and solve problems on their own. There are all sorts of ways to teach this to them. Here are a few:
- Open your daughter a bank account as early as possible. Teach her the value of saving and buying things herself.
- Always make your daughter try to do something before you help her. This may seem small, but, most of the time, she’ll discover that she doesn’t need help.
- Tell your daughter she’s in charge of packing for your family’s upcoming trip. Don’t help her. She’s then stuck with whatever she packed.
It’s important to teach our daughters that they don’t have to rely on a man or anyone else. They are strong and confident enough to compete in this world.
Look for healthy relationships
The reality is that most of what our daughters will learn will be through observation. Most lessons will be caught and not taught.
That means they will watch how we behave and soak in our values each and every day. When it comes to teaching then about healthy relationships, our daughters will learn what they are, and how to look for them, from observation.
Here’s a truth that’s worth writing down: Girls will look for the type of relationships they see modeled at home.
So, be cognizant of how you treat your spouse and how you choose and treat your friends. Because, one day, she will look for spouses and friends based on your example.
There’s something special about a daddy’s relationship with his daughter. You have the opportunity to teach your daughter lessons that will help her for her entire life. Take your job as a father seriously and you won’t regret it!