Raising a daughter can get a tad bit scary, especially for first-time and single parents. In this highly sexualized society, parents are challenged to raise strong and smart women who can celebrate their femininity at the same time. We want to teach them to honor themselves, to feel confident about their bodies, and to be wise when it comes to the practical things in life. Here’s what I learned from other parents who have raised their own healthy and well-adjusted daughters:
Compliment her on her looks, but tell her other good things about herself too
The Good Men Project encourages you to tell your daughter that she’s beautiful, while making her feel that other aspects of herself are important, too. Praise her for the qualities you want to develop in her – her creativity, intelligence, patience, kindness, and more. This will teach her that while her looks matter, what’s inside people counts for a lot too.
Take her out on Daddy Dates
Blogger Dennis Sy narrates about how he has established “Daddy Dates” with his four- and six-year-old daughters. Sy shares that daughters need to know how valuable they are, and parents can do this in many creative ways. Dating your daughter shows her that she a priority in your life. Make her feel special by going to a place she would like and resisting the urge to check your business phone every five minutes. Dating daddy sets her standards for the kind of man she would date in the future – a man who loves her, respects her, and treats her the way you treat her.
Let her make mistakes, but be there to guide her
It’s tempting to cloister and overly protect daddy’s princess, but you should also allow her to grow up and explore the world on her own. Don’t be afraid of allowing her to test her abilities and smarts in major decisions. There will come a time in your daughter’s life that daddy’s opinion matters, but is not necessarily the way she would go. Give her advice, praise her when she succeeds, be there for her when she fails, and always push her on.
Treat other women respectfully
This tip is for all the dads out there. How you treat other women will have a lasting impact on your daughter. Be mindful of how you talk about other women (including her mother) and respond to them as this will help shape your daughter’s own identity as a woman. How you view other women will reflect on how she views herself too. I think this powerful quote from the Art of Manliness sums it all up for all the men out there: “Every time you choose to view pornography, attend a strip club, solicit a prostitute, or in any other way, treat a woman like a piece of flesh rather than a person, remember one thing: That girl is some man’s daughter.”
Teach her how to handle money
Teaching kids to be contented is perhaps one of the hardest things to do, especially when you’re out shopping. Avoid buying them everything they want; instead, help them appreciate the value of delayed gratification. For example, you can reward them when they exhibit good behavior or when they help around the house. You can also help them save up, so they can learn the value of money. Instill generosity rather than selfishness. My dad, who was always big on volunteer work, used to involve us in his advocacy projects, teaching us early on about the intrinsic merits of being more generous to others.
Are there any other parenting tips you’d like to add? Sound off in the comments.