Your words are powerful. They create the world your kids inhabit to a large degree. Obviously they aren’t the only factor, but they are a large contributing factor to determining how our daughters view themselves and their place in the world.
Here are 3 things dads say to their daughters that we need to rethink.
1. Don’t be so bossy!
Bossy is rarely a word used for boys. For a variety of reasons, it’s a term we use for girls (and sometimes even women) when they are being assertive. But the unintended (or intended) consequence is our girls learn that it’s not their place to say what they think. Instead, let’s work to build our girls’ confidence to share their opinions, even as we emphasize the importance of respecting others who disagree with them.
2. You’re putting on weight.
This is a weird place for dads. Of course we care about our daughters’ health and we want them to thrive physically. As a dad, that means you have to have conversations with your kids about healthy eating habits, exercise, and body image. So all that is fair game. The trick is to learn to do that in a way that emphasizes health over body shape. Already our girls deal with the burden of cultural beauty standards that are impossible for most humans to attain without digital manipulation. Don’t add to that by criticizing her weight. Ensure she’s making generally healthy choices for herself and praise or challenge her for those choices.
3. Do you like that boy?
Again, it’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t ever ask her this question. But don’t obsess over it. The things dads say to their daughters will play a significant role in how they see themselves.We’ve all talked to that dad who is telling you about his daughter’s “boyfriend” in preschool. Some dads (and moms) make it a constant point of reference to the extent that when their daughter is single, it seems as though something is wrong. This is incredibly unhealthy and creates a significant amount of pressure for these young women to “need” a relationship. We need to help our daughters see themselves as whole people apart from a romantic relationship. If she can’t be OK without a boyfriend, she’ll never be OK with one.
In the end, the things dads say to their daughters will play a significant role in how they see themselves. Let’s choose our words wisely.
Sound off: Are there any things dads say to their daughters that you wish they would stop?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “When do you feel most confident?”