Women Admit What They Wish Their Fathers Knew When They Were Growing Up
Men can sometimes be completely oblivious when it comes to women - and this doesn't just apply in romance. There's almost nothing as special as a daddy/daughter relationship, but raising girls can be hard if you don't have any experience with it. If all you know is what you learned in school and what it's like to roll with boys, raising a girl can seem like being invaded by an adorable alien species. If you're one of those dads who's feeling nervous or overwhelmed about it - we got your back. Don't panic.
One Reddit User wanted to know: Daughters of Reddit, what is something you wish your father knew about girls when you were growing up?
And it turns out that most of the pieces of advice are pretty simple. Treat girls like they're human beings, learn about female anatomy, and don't be afraid to hop in a picture or two! Take notes, Dads. You're about to get a cheat sheet.
Unwanted attention from grown men doesn't always come from strangers. It comes from "family friends" too.
Pay attention to your friends' behaviors and comments around your kids.
Would A Son Be Easier?
If you spend a good portion of your daughter's childhood talking about how much better and easier a son would be to raise, don't be surprised when your daughter grows up confiding almost exclusively in her mother and never in you.
Show Some Affection
That it doesn't make you look weak to show affection once in a while. My dad hardly ever hugged us or said he loved us.
Be Mindful Of Hormones
When your daughter is going through puberty and starts getting her period, don't write off the things she's going through. There's all sorts of new hormones swirling around in there, and they're gonna affect her mood. She's getting periods, they're probably gonna hurt. Being in pain makes you grumpy, but don't write off every instance of anger or bad temper as being 'because you're on your period'. Maybe her mom doesn't get bad ones, maybe you've never thought about it because your wife is a grown woman who has learned to deal with her periods and the assorted mood swings and pains and moved on; your daughter hasn't yet. Be a little more thoughtful, help teach her ways to manage what she's feeling.
If she's in a lot of pain, and it doesn't change after a while, take her to a doctor. Maybe nothing's wrong and she got shit luck, but she could have endometriosis or cystic ovaries. Stick up for her at the doctor - lots of women have trouble finding doctors who will listen to them about their pain, and it's very hard to advocate for yourself when you're only 14 and throwing up from pain.
Don't be scared of having your picture taken, if your daughter wants to take pictures of you, or especially with you, let them. My dad died when I was 13 years old and then I realized that all of his hiding from the camera meant I was left with only a handful of photos and he wasn't in any of our home videos. You don't realize how important they can be until you aren't able to make new ones
Let Girls Be Stupid
Dads: let your daughters learn freedom. Let them explore the world and make an effort to be interested in their interests no matter how weird or dumb you think they might be. Let your kids be kids and do dumb things sometimes. Also, always let your daughter know that you have her back. Whatever stupid decision she makes, trouble she runs into, dumb man she dates or gets involved with - you've got her and you'll be there for her when things fall apart. My dad was so good about that.
Her Body Is Not A Talking Point
Don't comment on their bodies, period. Especially when they are going through puberty.
To add to this, don't make your daughter feel bad for going through puberty. My dad made me feel so humiliated when I first started my periods. He also made me feel like going through all of the natural changes of puberty, like growing breasts was something that should only be for adults and somehow I was growing up way before I should have.
I'm not sure how to explain it, but I felt incredibly uncomfortable about growing because my dad made it seem like it was a bad thing.
To me, I'd rather have had a dad who was there, than a dad who was successful and a workaholic.
When your dad is gone, you remember the silly little things: the bedtime stories he told you, playing with you on the beach, having ice cream together.
Be a father who is present in your daughter's life. Play with her when she's small. Tell her stories. When she's older, listen to her. Take an interest in her interests even if they sound silly. Take an interest in her life in general.
That's all anyone can ask.
That it's okay to cry. My dad didn't know how to handle my sisters or I when we cried; many times, he just left the room. I grew up with such shame about crying that I still struggle with letting myself cry. I don't even know what that means. I've never had the experience of just letting it all out or having a good cry because my dad, as a traditional Russian man, had a difficult time expressing emotions fully. But, he was overall a very loving father. He did express emotion and didn't overtly shame us for our feelings, he just seemed uncomfortable around them and I picked up on it.
Men, it's okay to feel! Not feeling, or holding back expression, causes so much internal dysfunction.
Release The Masculinity
Embrace that your daughter is a girl, and that she will most likely enjoy "girly" things. Don't try to force her to play sports or be a "tomboy." Let go of your masculinity for like two seconds and enjoy a tea party.
We're Not Made Of Glass
Don't treat us with kid-gloves. We need to get hurt, bumps, brusies, broken bones. We aren't made of glass. We need friends who are willing to beat the hell out of us, and we need to learn to fight back, just like all kids do. Don't coddle and baby us like we are these weak delicate flowers who need a hermetically-sealed environment to keep us pristine.
Enroll your daughter in a GOOD self-defense or martial arts class. Push us, demand we learn how to defend ourselves. Teach us to not be reliant on men to protect us. Give us the tools and confidence to be independent and the skills to fight back if we need to.
It's Not That Funny
That not every instance of anger or sadness on my part was because "it must be that time of the month." My dad is a great guy all around, but used to bring that up (even jokingly) waaaay too often.
My dad is awesome.
I remember him telling me once that "the best thing a father can do for his daughter is love and respect her mother."
We watch the way that you treat our mothers and interpret that as the way that a relationship should be. Think about the example you're setting.
That we take everything he says to heart and he has to be kind. His words can leave deep wounds that stay with her for a lifetime.
When you do something wrong, apologize. Don't just try to ignore what we just fought about and try to be our friend 15 minutes later. When you try to ignore our problem, it hurts us. It makes us angry. We won't want to be friends.
My friends and I have almost all had this issue with our dads. The worst thing, though, is when you try to have someone else apologize fix things for you. My dad has asked me to be this middleman for my younger sister, my friend has been asked by her dad, and some others have mentioned their dad sending in their mom. It doesn't make things better, and a lot of the time, makes that middleman lose respect for you.
Respect us as people and apologize to us.
Solo Bonding Time
That it is best to have a personal bond with your father, a hobby or activity that's the two of you -no matter how small, and not him just be there when the whole family is together.
When our outdoor cats would get ticks I quickly alerted my father and we removed them. For him a chore and for me the one thing that was us doing something together.
Don't just assume your daughter won't be interested in your activities because they aren't stereo-typically girly or because once as a small child, she didn't want to do it. Not wanting to go hiking or fishing when I was 5 years old doesn't mean I never ever want to do it. Keep trying to get your kids involved in your life and don't just give up. You're teaching them not to share things about themselves and losing the chance to bond over something you love.
Learn About Menstruation
The only thing I guess he could have done better was been more knowledgeable about what he called "female issues." He didn't really understand periods & cramps or anything associated with menstruation or female development. When he was growing up, he was never taught about them and men didn't need to learn. It was just "icky" to him.
Not The Enemy
Treating every boy interested in your daughter as your enemy does both of you a disservice.
My dad was very over-protective. Any time a boy had a crush on me, he would be immediately added to my dad's shitlist. Even if he was perfectly kind and respectful.
After a certain point, I just stopped listening to my dad's complaints. In my eyes, he had lost the right to give input about my relationships.
Unfortunately, when I was 17 I became entangled in an abusive relationship.
My dad hated the guy. But since he also hated every one of my previous suitors, I didn't interpret his concerns as legitimate.
On top of that: since he was so busy trying to prevent me from having relationships, he never talked to me about what a healthy relationship looks like.
Being Present v. Being Involved
That it's great you're extending the offer to spend time together, but when you invite your kid to the garage to help with something, actually have them help with something.
For context, my dad would be working on his boat engine or something, and he'd say come help me with this, and then I'd sit on a bucket for 20 minutes watching him in silence, and finally wander off out of boredom. Looking back, it's great he wanted to spend time with me and I appreciate that, but being present and being involved are two different things.