I have a confession. When I was pregnant with my second child and I found out it was a girl, I was a bit nervous. Growing up I was a bit of a tomboy, so when I had a son everything seemed so simple. But, between my boyish ways and the complex relationship I have with my own mom, having a girl made me scared.
Thankfully, the fear passed and my little girl is one of my greatest joys. She reminds me of myself in so many ways, and her tough but sweet demeanor lets me know that she will always be compassionate and a fighter. I love that about her.
One of the best things about having a girl, though, is watching her bond with her father. My father didn’t play a significant role in my life as a child, and even when he was there, he really wasn’t. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I married a good guy who takes the time to make sure his presence is felt in the lives of his children. It’s amazing to watch and it warms my heart in such an incredible way.
Although my daughter is only 2, I can begin to see how she interacts with her father. She expects a lot from him, and I know he will deliver. As she grows up and their bond deepens, I know there are invaluable lessons she will gather from her father. Through the love they share and the experiences they have together, I know he will find ways to teach her critical life lessons she will carry with her always.
Here are a few lessons I know my daughter will learn, and I believe every dad should teach his little girl.
Know Your Worth. Whenever you walk through life believing that you are worth less than you really are, you struggle with reaching your true potential. This applies to friendships, romantic relationships, and even professional decisions. Dads should teach their girls that they have value, and they should never compromise when it comes to what they know they are worth.
Be Yourself. Trying to be someone you are not never works out well. When a girl is young, she looks to her father for approval. She wants to know if he thinks she’s smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, and so much more. When a dad teaches her daughter that she is always enough just by being herself. It sets the stage for a lifetime of confidence and success.
Never Dim Your Light. Girls are often taught to dim their light so someone else can shine (and that someone else is often a man). Dads have to teach their girls that they should never dim their light for anyone—male or female. Fathers should show their daughters how to embrace all their strengths and shine brightly, never fearing that they will lose anyone who matters because their light is too bright.
Don’t Ever Be Afraid to Say “No.” Any good dad teaches his daughter that no means no, and she should never, ever be afraid to say it. No matter where she goes, or what she does, she should always feel like she has the option to say “no” – to anyone.
Demand Respect. Girls have to learn at an early age that they will always be treated the way they allow people to treat them. A dad has to show his little girl what self-respect means, as well as what it means to expect respect from anyone in her life. Without respect, she has to know that there is no foundation for a healthy relationship, romantic or otherwise.
Do What YOU Want. There are so many societal expectations about what a girl should do, or what she can be. Men have to show their girls that they have to do what they want to do, even if society expects otherwise. From an engineer to a dancer to professional athlete—a girl can do it all. What a difference it makes if her dad is the first person that sends her that message.
Dig Deep. Life will be tough, and there will be pain, so dads should teach their girls that having moments of pain and weakness does not make you weak. Girls can learn from heir dads about how strong they really are. When the man you admire most teaches you how to dig deep and find your inner strength, you can conquer any fears you have.
Martine Foreman is a freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, speaker and coach. To follow her journey as a busy mom, wife and honest chick from Brooklyn, NY (now living in the burbs), check out her personal blog, CandidBelle.