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Parenthood looks different for everyone. Raising a confident daughter can be difficult, especially when your daughter is navigating puberty and all of the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that come with it.
And, as daughters, we can have many fathers in our lives- from the single dad, the soon-to-be dad, the LGBTQ+ parent, the adoptive dad, the stay-at-home dad, to the father figure.
This Father’s Day, we wanted to reflect on our experiences and relationships with our dads, to help fathers and daughters learn how to build a supportive, loving relationship and bond.
And, if you’re a dad out there, maybe we can help you find some comfort in knowing we’re all just trying to figure out this parenting & family thing together.
Ways to set her bar high for future relationships
For some of us, our fathers are the first male role models in our lives. And, like all of us, dads hold experiences from their own lives that affect how they parent. Even the context in which dads parent- single dads , LGBTQ+ parents, stay-at-home dads-feeds into a father-daughter relationship.
Empathy, patience, and a desire to show up for each other will be crucial as your relationship develops. Just think (and it may sound obvious): how a father treats his daughters & women around him can set a standard for how his daughter expects to be treated by men.
With that in mind, let’s talk dating. Dating is an important part of learning about who you are, and what you value in a partner and relationship. But, we’ve all seen the movies with overprotective dads threatening a daughter’s partner. While well-intentioned, this approach can undermine the work that you’ve done to show your daughter that you trust the choices she makes. As you watch your daughter date & grow, trust that she will come to you for help if she needs it (or, make it clear that you will help if and when she asks for it).
How else can fathers provide daughters with resources that support positive and healthy relationships and friendships? Therapy! Therapy, if the resources are available, can be a key support system for parents and children everywhere. There may be some topics that we are uncomfortable talking with our fathers about. But, when fathers make an effort to get us the support that we need (even if it’s not them), our relationships ultimately become stronger.
We love a feminist dad. Here’s how to become one.
Today, fathers play a critical role in challenging the status quo of gender inequality. This can feel like an insurmountable task, but let’s start small. Try not to use the pet name “princess” with your daughter. suggests that, from a young age, children see princesses as perfectionists who are submissive to authority figures. The effects can counteract the hard work fathers & daughters do together to empower women to stand up for who they are and who they strive to be.
A tougher topic: Dads, teach your daughters that she has power over her body and at a young age. Think of another TV and movie cliche-the father telling their daughter that she can’t date until she’s thirty. Whether or not the father is joking, this can discourage us daughters from confiding in our dads, or asking questions about our relationships, bodies, and sexuality. Fathers: ask your daughter about her date. Learn what she is excited about, what she is nervous about. Be a resource, or point her to one if you can’t answer a question. In short: empower her to learn about herself, her body, and her relationships!
Dads, another small thing to do: show your daughters female role models who excel in male-dominated fields. And, make a point to learn more about women leaders around the world for yourself! The more we see people who look like us, the more we believe in what we are capable of.
This also means embracing how we, as women, express ourselves. Whether it’s more masculine, more feminine, or anywhere on the spectrum, growing up means expressing ourselves and discovering who we are. Having a father who is not only comfortable with, but embraces, that expression can be life-changing.
Hold space for conversations around puberty
Don’t check out during . Puberty is a tough topic to discuss between a father and his daughter. But, as hard as it feels to talk about it, the changes that a daughter is experiencing are even harder. Puberty is a formative experience, physically and emotionally. Dads: help us with the emotional stuff. We need you!
Some tips for the dads out there:
1. Have the information accessible
Read , read books, read books! It’s cliche, but worth remembering: books help us all learn about each others’ experiences, and how to see those experiences in ourselves. And, more practically, there are many experts and authors out there who know way more than you. Use those books as resources, and a way to facilitate an open conversation!
2. Answer all of her !
Awkward? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely. The changes that we endure during puberty are scary and weird. We don’t always understand what’s going on, so dads: don’t make your daughter feel ashamed or uncomfortable for being curious about her body. Recognize that you are not an expert, but you are here to help with resources she can read or watch to better explain puberty.
3. Don’t force the conversation
Let your daughter get there on her own time. It doesn’t have to be a big, sit-down, serious conversation. Instead, maybe leave a about periods in her room and encourage her to read it. This can help open up a dialogue and form a more comfortable conversation.
Not only is your daughter physically changing as she gets older, but she’s also enduring a lot of emotional changes. Offer her support, acknowledge her feelings, and make sure she knows she is not alone.
5. Offer her a woman figure.
Sometimes, it’s most helpful to talk to someone who has been through what we are experiencing. This may mean finding a female figure to introduce your daughter to. It’s important for daughters to know what other support she has out there.
6. Don’t call it her “time of the month”
It’s humiliating. That’s all. Encourage her to understand her body & cycle fully-our ovulation tests can help with just that.
It is hard, as a father, to know what your growing daughter needs to feel supported. This is especially true with topics like puberty and sexuality. Take the pressure off yourself to be perfect, and instead be there for her. Always. If any about pregnancy or ovulation come up, send her our way. Our goal at is to provide women with resources and information they need throughout any stage of life.
Originally published at https://www.heymirza.com on November 13, 2020.