Father’s play a significant part in the way their daughter shows strength, self-worth, confidence and their future ambitions. The example you set now will determine whether your daughter believes she can be powerful, strong and succeed in anything she puts her mind to.
Teaching this starts in the home, from a young age and continues through out her life until she reaches adulthood. In a society that still makes it hard for women to feel confident, seen and heard, you can help make a difference by what you model and teach your daughter through out her life.
1. Use your words to build her confidence
Did you know that majority of girls aged eight to seventeen are insecure and unsure of themselves? As a father, the words you speak to your daughter have an impact on her self-worth and confidence. When you speak to her, use positive and encouraging words and remind her of all the great qualities she has and the value she brings to the world.
2. Encourage her to take safe calculated risks
Help her to make decisions and work some things out for herself. Encourage her to take calculated risks to help her move out of her comfort zone and conquer things she puts her mind to, when she didn’t think it was possible. For example, taking part in a play at school or succeeding in riding her bike down that really steep hill she was scared of trying.
3. Be egalitarian in the home
We speak often about being a role model in the home. Children are constantly watching what you’re doing and in turn will subconsciously take this on as they grow up. If you want to raise your daughter to seek equality in life, then you need to practise what you preach, this can include taking on equal share of household duties, as an example. Research by The University of British Columbia found that households that have mothers and fathers who share the duties like cooking and doing the laundry demonstrate to their children that roles don’t have to be gendered. In turn, the research finds that this has a direct impact on a girl’s ambitions.
4. Have open dialogue
Discussing important topics of conversation open and honestly tells your daughter her voice is heard and that she has a right to her own opinions and beliefs. You teach her a valuable lesson that you’re entitled to speak your mind and an opinion is just as valued as any other.
5. Break down gender stereotypes
One way you can do this is to expose her to typically male-dominated activities and jobs. Ensure she is aware that she can do any activity she likes or grow up to work in any field, regardless of whether it has traditionally been considered ‘for males’. This helps to break down gender stereotypes and allows her to strive for anything she’d like to pursue. According to research by Dr. Nilanjana Dasgupta, a professor of psychological and brain science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, says its crucial for fathers to talk to their daughters about work and engage in traditionally ‘male’ activities. This can include playing coding games together, building things, playing sports like rugby and AFL, fixing cars, home repairs or going fishing.
6. Make it known it’s not her job to look pretty and you love her for who she is, not because of how she looks
Dressing up in different outfits, trying out new hairstyles and putting on make-up is fun, and many girls love to do these things. But as she grows, let her know that she shouldn’t feel obligated to do this, especially to please others. Remember to focus on other attributes that showcase her value, from her intelligence, her creativity, inner-strength, resiliency, compassion and humour. Her value does not reside in how she looks!
Be curious with your daughter and always listen to her, dig deeper to understand her thoughts and beliefs. Listen – even when you’re afraid to hear what she might tell you. Continually look for ways to connect with her and empower her to be ambitious and move out of her comfort zone. Ask questions and remember you don’t always have to provide solutions – being a listening ear is sometimes all she needs.