The relationship between a father and daughter is like nothing else. As a dad, you have a unique responsibility to shape how your little girl sees herself and how she approaches her future when it comes to relationships, careers, and goals.
So, while your first instinct might be to protect your daughter at all cost, the best thing you can do is to teach her. Guide her. Parent her in a way that will let her be strong and independent.
Parenting doesn’t stop when your “little girl” is grown, either. You can strengthen your relationship with your daughter even when she’s an adult.
Unfortunately, dads have gotten somewhat of a negative reputation when it comes to parenting daughters. In movies and on television, they’re often portrayed as “backburner” parents, only stepping in when necessary. That doesn’t have to be – and shouldn’t be – the kind of relationship you have with your daughter.
But, with all of that responsibility, how can you make sure you’re the best father possible for your daughter? What can you do to parent them the “right” way? Let’s cover a few helpful tips you can use along your parenting journey.
Be Open to Learning
It’s no secret that girls are going to go through different things than boys. As a father, that might not always be easy to handle simply because you don’t have a reference point. Unfortunately, that creates a lot of stigma around things like:
- Menstruation issues and the effects of puberty
- Female health
- Sexual health
- Self-image/body issues
The best thing you can do, as a father? Drop those stigmas. Fight back against them for the sake of your daughter’s well-being. Educate yourself on some of the things girls go through, so you can be prepared to work through those conversations comfortably. That might include your daughter getting her first period or having trouble with a boy at school. She might even be struggling with her self-image, thanks in part to the selfie culture we’re living in and the need for digital connectivity.
By familiarizing yourself and getting comfortable with some of those things, you’ll be able to help your daughter through them at every stage of her life.
Teach Her New Things
In addition to being a great listener, you should also strive to be her best teacher. She’ll be influenced by others her entire life. You need to provide a grounded foundation for her to build from so she doesn’t give in to negative influences when they come along. Every day doesn’t need to include some big, profound lesson. Think of things you enjoyed as a child and pass them on. Need some ideas to get started? Try the following:
- Playing a sport
- Learning a musical instrument
- Reading classic novels or poetry
It’s also a good idea to pay attention to your daughter’s natural interests. Does she seem to gravitate toward certain things? Use those as opportunities to teach her or learn right along with her. Doing so will show her it’s never too late to learn new things, and trying something new can be extremely rewarding.
Those sit-down conversations should happen from time to time but try to avoid turning everything into a long lecture. Instead, share your own stories. Talk about things you’ve gone through and lessons you’ve learned. Sharing things about yourself to teach a lesson will break down walls between the two of you and strengthen communication. It will build trust between the two of you for a lifetime.
Be There for the Big Moments
Raising your daughter well means being there for the “small stuff” every single day. But, as a father, it’s just as important to support her throughout the milestones of her life. That includes everything from the day she graduates high school to walking her down the aisle at her wedding.
Of course, celebrating the milestones doesn’t mean you have to stop offering your advice or encouragement. If you have a close relationship with your daughter, she might come to you as an adult for support when she has a big decision to make. As a father, it can be hard to talk to your daughter about getting married, but walking her through the pros and cons of elopement versus a traditional wedding might be something you’ll have to tackle.
You might also have to help her decide if a job transition is right for her, or if moving to a different city is the best thing. While you can’t make her decisions for her, you can enjoy her milestones while offering support the whole time.
As you can see, the role and duties of fatherhood never stop. Simply being able to have an adult conversation with your daughter is a milestone all on its own. Don’t take it for granted, and make sure you’re there for your daughter as a grown woman the same way you were when she was learning to walk. The steps forward might be different, but she will still need your help to keep from stumbling.