7 Tips for Dads of Daughters
If you’re a father or a stepfather, I’m going to ask you to do one thing today. One. This one thing is for the little girl in your life. Whether she’s a baby, is “toddlering” around the house, navigating middle school, working on a college degree, or has started a family of her own: It doesn’t matter. She’ll always be your little girl.
You know the saying: A son is a son ‘til he gets a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life.
I recently read something by Mat Johnson that was so profound it froze me in my tracks. I had to sit down and let it sink in. (Full Disclosure: I was already seated. But the rest is absolutely accurate.) Mat is a professor and prize-winning author of fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels. He is also the father of two little girls. Here’s what he said that hit me like a ton of bricks:
A man’s daughter is his heart. Just with feet, walking out in the world.
That’s powerful stuff. I don’t know how much Mat is into family research, but in just 14 words, he encapsulated decades of studies on the impact a father has on his daughter’s life. It’s worth breaking down and looking a little deeper.
A Man’s Daughter Is His Heart…
I’m about to share a bunch o’ findings from a bunch o’ research. (I’ll link to it at the end for your perusal.)
First, understand that you’re always directly or indirectly impacting your daughter. She’s watching, listening, and taking mental notes. (Like, how does Dad treat Mom, me, and other women?) Remember: It’s not about just being around. The goal is to actively engage with your daughter from birth onward.
Daughters who have a dynamic, secure, warm, comfortable, conversational, and loving relationship with their father gain all sorts of advantages they carry throughout their lives. Your life is molding hers.
…Just With Feet, Walking Out In This World.
What dad doesn’t want these things for their daughter?
Actively engaged fathers help their daughters become more:
- Intellectually developed – from IQ to better grades in school.
- Confident and assertive. (And more likely to feel better about themselves.)
- Likely to pursue higher education.
- Likely to have higher career achievement & have a higher-paying job.
- Likely to experience better emotional & mental health.
- Likely to have healthy romantic relationships up to, and including, marriage.
⇨ Your Relationship With (Your Wife) And Daughter Also Provides A Critical Buffer ⇦
Daughters with actively involved fathers are less likely to:
- Develop eating disorders and a poor self-image.
- Engage in “delinquent” behavior as an adolescent.
- Become pregnant as a teenager.
- Experience dating violence or be coerced into sex.
- Be resilient and navigate obstacles & stressful situations.
How do you get started? According to research, technically, it begins with being present and involved in your daughter’s birth. (You’re probably past that.) Check out these pointers on being a great girl dad for an infant or toddler.
Keep these general principles in mind:
- Listen to girls. What are your daughter’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings and dreams? Don’t just focus on how she looks. Make sure she knows she’s beautiful and valuable on the inside, too.
- Encourage her strength and celebrate her savvy. Help your daughter learn to recognize, resist and overcome barriers. Help her develop her strengths to achieve her goals.
- Respect her uniqueness. Urge her to love her body and discourage dieting. Make sure your daughter knows that you love her for who she is. See her as a whole person capable of doing anything. Treat her and those she loves with respect.
- Get physically active with her. Play catch, tag, jump rope, basketball or go for walks. Studies show that physically active girls have fathers who are active with them.
- Involve yourself in your daughter’s activities. Volunteer to drive, coach or host.
- Talk to other fathers. There’s a lot you can learn from each other.
- Help make the world better for girls. One time, while I was walking through the mall with my teenage daughter, I made a point of watching the eyes of the people we passed. It was disturbing. This world holds dangers for our daughters. Overprotection doesn’t work. Make sure your daughter is over-prepared to navigate the world.
So, what’s the one practical thing you’re going to do today to work on bonding and building up your daughter? Even if you don’t live with your daughter, you still make a difference.
Dads, we can’t do it all in one day, but we can do that one thing today, then one other thing tomorrow. Our daughters need us for the rest of their lives.
- American Psychological Association: Father-Daughter Physical Activity Programs
- Direct and Indirect Effects of Father-Daughter Relationship on Adolescent Girls’ Psychological Outcomes: The Role of Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction – ScienceDirect
- Father Involvement, Dating Violence, and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among a National Sample of Adolescent Females
- The Influence of a Father on a Daughter’s College Decision
- Talking to Daddy’s Little Girl About Sex: Daughters’ Reports of Sexual Communication and Support From Fathers
- How Dads Affect Their Daughters Into Adulthood | Institute for Family Studies
- Strengthening Father-Daughter Relationships
How To Be The Best Dad For Your Daughter – First Things First
5 Steps I Took to Be a Better Dad – First Things First
What All Daughters Need to Hear From Their Dad – First Things First
7 Ways to Embrace Being a #girldad – First Things First
The Encouraging Science of Fatherhood and the ‘Father Effect’
The Father-Daughter Relationship: How He Affects Her Life
hi, am a father to 8 girls and i need more knowledge on how to properly raise my daughters.
Would be humbly honored to support you
What do you need help with? Maybe I can help.
Yea just want to say I have a 3 month old daughter my 2nd but first kid thats in my life I made some bad choices when I was younger that caused my first one not to be in my life I regret that everyday,but now I believe I have another chance at this n I’m just looking n reading up on things on how to be a good father n be involved in my child life. Thank you