Full disclosure, here is a bit about me:
· I am 33 years old.
· Married for soon to be six years.
· I am a first time father of a little girl.
· Not much scares me outside of clowns (not really I just think they’re creepy).
· Raising a little girl SCARES me to death.
· I don’t have all the answers, let alone the bulk of them.
· I am a bit of a feminist.
· I chose a profession, Early Childhood Education, that is roughly 97% female and I have funny and horrific stories to boot.
· I was blessed with a very understanding and supportive wife.
It’s not that telling a girl she’s pretty or beautiful is bad. It’s not. Trust me; if you don’t say this to your significant other they will remind you that you didn’t. It just doesn’t need to be the only kind of compliment your daughter gets. She needs to understand that appearance isn’t the only thing that matters. Compliment her intelligence, resourcefulness, imagination, hard work, and strength. I compliment her when she outsmarts or outthinks me. Trust me; kids will do this to you every now and then. Don’t pretend that her looks will never matter, but teach her not to judge herself or let herself be judged only on looks.
I am happy to fix things, but if she notices something is broken and automatically says, “Daddy fix”, I reply with, “Mommy and/or Daddy can/will fix that”. If Mommy fixed her broken night light or fixed a toy by replacing the batteries I let our daughter know.
3. I feel fat.
Let’s be honest, body image is an issue that both males and females go through. Our current society however, is more critical on female’s age, weight, and appearance. When we are full or overindulge in front of our daughter, we never say, “Gosh, I feel fat after that meal,” or “These clothes make me look/feel fat,” even if we think/feel that way. We try to be very aware of our own self-esteem and self-confidence and try not letting that be a negative influence on our daughter. Our problem should not be hers.
Your daughter will pick up on generalizations you make about women, whether positive or negative. Intentionally or not, you shape her identity about what it is to be a woman and how to expect to be treated for being one. Say positive things about women without pedestalizing. If you can’t be nice, at least be respectful and steer clear of the derogatory terms, and other words that may put down her entire gender. “All this goes double for talking about her mother.” -Williams and Schroeder
While it felt a little emasculating at first, when my daughter handed me two baby dolls and said, “Daddy nurse… its yummy, yummy right”. While I sat ‘crisscross applesauce’ on the floor in my Steelers t-shirt and ripped jeans, I realized it wasn’t because she was trying to take my “Man Card” or emasculate me, she wanted to me to take part in one of the most loving experiences between her and my wife, breastfeeding.
Williams and Schroeder said, “You’ll miss it when you can’t”. I honestly tear up thinking about this. Don’t skimp on those tender moments. Children are only small for a very short period of time so remember, what works for me may not work for you, but keep trying. Don’t be afraid to try new things.