I have four children. My oldest is a boy, followed by three daughters. For years I would joke with my oldest daughter about how she couldn’t date until she was 40. I’d also make comments about how I needed to buy a shotgun so I could clean it if she ever brought a boy home. One day, as I smugly made one of my jokes, she commented: “Dad, you never say stuff like that to (my son). Why do you talk like you have to protect me? Do you think I’m weak? Do you not trust me?”
As dads, we often see our role as protecting our daughters. That’s not bad. In fact, that’s important and necessary. The problem is, it isn’t enough. There are many other reasons why daughters need their fathers. A father’s role in his daughter’s life needs to move beyond simply protecting his daughter into helping her learn to become all she can be as a person. Here are five things your daughter secretly wants you to fight for—five things that’ll change her life.
1. Her EqualityA father’s role in his daughter’s life is to champion her so she can become the woman she is capable of being.
It’s no longer considered appropriate to refer to women as “the weaker sex” (thank goodness). However, we dads frequently still treat our daughters that way (see my example above). We’re much more likely to encourage our sons to take risks and to put themselves out there. Meanwhile, we’re inclined to coddle our daughters. But our daughters are just as capable of facing challenges and learning from them, and they need us to allow them to do that. A father’s role in his daughter’s life is to champion her so she can become the woman she is capable of being.
2. Her Interests
Surprisingly, many dads find it appropriate to remove themselves from their daughter’s sphere of interest when what she likes isn’t in their wheelhouse. They don’t understand it, so they don’t get involved. Tragically, this attitude can communicate to your daughter that what she cares about isn’t valuable to you. If you want your daughter to grow in confidence in herself and to believe that what she cares about matters, then you need to demonstrate that it does by engaging with her in her activities. You need to fight for her ability to pursue what she loves while you cheer her on from the sidelines (or bleachers, or auditorium, or wherever).
3. Her Body
Too many people think it’s appropriate to comment on women’s bodies as though their bodies are up for public scrutiny. Ask any young woman and she’s certainly had complete strangers make remarks about her appearance. Sadly, this happens even more with family members who feel as though they get to comment on weight, attractiveness, and even girls’ physical development. A father’s role in his daughter’s life is to help her understand that her body is her business (which might mean telling your relatives to knock it off).
4. Her Respect
It’s easy for dads to demean their daughters, often without understanding what we’re doing. It’s the side comments about drama queens, the rolling of the eyes when our daughters are emotional, the joking about “that time of the month.” All these types of comments trivialize the very real challenges our daughters face. We need to fight for our daughters to be respected and to respect themselves. A father’s role in his daughter’s life is to model the respect for our daughters we know they deserve. Likewise, we need to do all we can to ensure that she respects herself.
5. Her Role Models
There’s no shortage of amazing women who are doing and have done amazing things. However, we dads don’t often do a good job highlighting those stories. Your daughter needs you to fight for her to have easy access to strong female role models. Read her books and watch movies with strong female characters. Get her around women who are doing amazing things. Don’t assume it’s someone else’s job to introduce your daughter to strong women. Fight for her to have access to female role models. You might be surprised what you learn along the way, too.
Sound off: What do you think your daughter needs you to fight for?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your daughter and tell her how proud you are of her. Then ask her if there are ever times when she questions that.