Dad’s set the bar for what daughters will expect to get from their future romantic partners and male friendships.
The healthier the relationship is between the two of them the more likely that girl will grow up to have a healthy partnership with positive outcomes for all involved.
Often times it is difficult initially for dads to know what daughters need from them in life. I hope the list below is of help.
There are five things that are needed in that first relationship with a man.
1. Protection. This is the most important thing that men can provide to their kids. By keeping them safe and looking out for them they are helping create a sense of safety for their daughters. This can be anything from holding them securely when they are infants and keeping the dog or cats at a safe distance. Anything that provides a sense of protection and sets healthy boundaries with other kids is important to establish. This helps them learn how to speak up when they are feeling bullied or treated disrespectfully by others. As the daughter grows it can be coaching them in how to speak for themselves as well letting them know they can always come to dad for help.
2. Respect: In this case modeling having respect for women by how the dad treats his spouse and the other women in his life. Our children seldom follow what we say but follow what we model for them. This respect can extend to ways that dad admires the women in his life and finds the things that offer that are different than what men offer as equally valuable and useful. They do not complain about “how women talk too much or want to talk about feelings all the time” but rather might offer that it would be good for men to talk more, especially about what they are feeling. Years ago I worked in a shop and one of the long time welders shared with me that women often make excellent welders in part because of their attention to detail. I recall he had a daughter and I hope he shared that with her.
3. Healthy Touch: In general men are less comfortable with touch and it often gets linked in their minds as being a prelude to sexual. Therefore, men can be more “hands off” with their daughters based on that anxiety. But it is important for daughters to receive healthy touch and holding from their dads from early on. Babies love and need the stimulation of hearing the deeper male voice and experience the more physical ways that dads interact with their kids. Holding, singing to and lovingly gazing upon your daughter when she is an infant helps her develop a sense of being loved and lovable. When this need is met by healthy fathering it is much less likely that she will grow into a young woman who needs the approval of males. She will know that she has nothing to prove in order to be loved.
4. Introduction to the larger world: There is an expression which says, “The first decade of the child’s life belongs to the mother and the second to the father.” It is certainly an exaggeration but holds some truth. It is important for dads to begin to expose their daughter (and sons) to the larger world and help expand the child’s understanding of the world. This can be anything from taking their daughters to their workplace and introducing them to co-workers and what work is being done there. Also listening to what their daughter’s interests are and helping them meet people or take classes in those areas of interest so that they can learn more. Including daughters when you are doing house projects gives them a growing sense of their own abilities and expands what they can see themselves doing in life.
5. Affirmation: It has been said that daughters need to hear these two important affirmations from their fathers: “You are both intelligent and beautiful.” Indeed it is both parents job to mirror back to their children what they see in them as this is how they begin to know who they are. When a father affirms the strengths, abilities and qualities he sees in his daughter he is giving her a great gift of knowing that this important man in her life sees and affirms who she is and will become.