A dad is the first man a daughter loves and her experiences with her Dad are relationship predictors for her years to come. Positive involvement by Dads in their daughter’s lives correlated with a list of positive benefits such as “better peer relationships; fewer behavior problems; higher educational / occupational mobility relative to parents’; capacity for empathy; non-traditional attitudes to earning and childcare; more satisfying adult sexual partnerships; and higher self-esteem, life-satisfaction and ‘locus of control” (Pleck, J.H., & Masciadrelli, B.P. (2004). Paternal Involvement by U.S. residential fathers: levels, sources and consequences. In M.E. Lamb (ed.), The Role of the Father in Child Development (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.)
One way to ensure that our daughters develop a healthy self-esteem is by showing them respect while they are young. If you expect them not interrupt you while you are talking, then set the example and don’t interrupt them while they are speaking. If you want them to believe in themselves, sincerely tell them how wonderful they are and how glad you are that they are in your life.
Another way to show that you value your daughter is by spending time doing what she wants to do. Give her your undivided attention. Just think of all the errands that kids go on with you. Do you think they enjoy waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in a chair twice too big for them while you get your hair cut? Probably not, but any situation can lend itself to quality time spent if you make it educational and fun. You just might get better cooperation from as a result.
At age seven, Karrie is just as at home in her backyard climbing a tree as she is playing in her Barbie doll castle. She has pretended to be a princess since she was old enough to walk in her mother’s oversized high heels. But, her father, John, has a tendency to tease her about being a princess as she primps in front of the mirror or puts on a beauty pageant for anyone who will sit still long enough for her to change into her next costume.
Inwardly, John is thinking his daughter will grow up to be spoiled and think everyone should cater to her. What he may not realize is that his daughter’s self-esteem is fragile and that she truly needs his approval. In pre-adolescent years, girls are forming their opinion of how men are supposed to treat women. The examples dads set and the attention they pay their daughters at this age will go with these little ladies the rest of their lives.
I am thrilled to see that Dad’s involvement has emerged in the current generation. Fathering has taken a huge step forward and the absent fathers typical of my childhood have been replaced by dads who are home a lot more and are spending quality time with their children. Many mothers have become the major bread winner in the household as husbands stay home and care for the kids. Who says men can’t change diapers and give a bottle just as well as a woman? Why shouldn’t women make as much (or more) money than men? Why shouldn’t boys take ballet lessons? What’s wrong with girls playing soldier? This is a healthy shift in cultural trends that I feel certain will bring about an empowered next generation.