My daughter is affectionate, loyal, goofy, and as confident as a girl just entering her teen years can be. She’s also precocious, headstrong, and blunt when it comes to sharing her honest opinion. I can’t tell if gentleness and tact was something I failed to instill in her, or if she refuses to use it.
Either way, there’s no getting around her when it comes to opinions and truth. Throughout our relationship, I’ve learned to be a better father while trying to teach her how to be a decent human-being. Each of my children have taught me different lessons, but these are some of the things I wished I’d picked up on just a little sooner.
Not going to lie. My generation was raised to believe that men didn’t cry. To be strong was to be stone, a fatherly machine that worked, provided, offered piggy back rides, and that was it.
Connecting with my daughter as she grew meant that I had to get rid of my fear of showing emotion and to be present for her when she needed me.
Let Her Play
My two oldest are boys. They roughhouse and argue and build things outside. When my little girl was old enough, she naturally wanted to go everywhere they went. I couldn’t explain it, but I had this need to preserve her from harm, and my fear of her getting hurt made me hold her back more than I should’ve. The arguments put a lot of strain on our everyday life, not to mention our relationship.
Once I released those reins and decided to treat her as my child and not just a girl who can’t be allowed to get hurt, the tension disappeared along with it.
Don’t Stop Communicating
Once it stops, it’s an uphill battle to get it going again like any other habit. I’d let it slip as she got older, and she was quick to fill that time and fall out of the habit of telling me things. As she got older and I wanted to chat with her about things, it was no longer easy to strike up a casual conversation.
Strength is More Than Muscle
As I said, my daughter is vocal when it comes to her opinion, and this includes if she’s feeling victimized. Once the conversation came up about the over-sexualization of girls in the media, she was quick to pipe up every time she saw it. She’s fearless when it comes to standing up for herself against anyone that feels she’s nothing more than window dressing.
Think of Them as Children, Not Boys and Girls
It’s simple. Love your children, and get to know them. Don’t put them in a box of what you think they’re capable of or can or can’t do. Let them decide their own passions. My daughter is just as handy with a hammer and saw as her brothers are, and isn’t afraid to wear a dress.
Our children are more than the imaginary concept of colors being gender specific. They’re thoughts, feelings, and souls, and should be nurtured every day to discover exactly what it is that makes their souls sing.