While both parents are important to their children, fathers have a very real impact on not only the way their daughters view men as a whole, but also the way that they view the world. As a father, it’s important that you take an active role in your daughter’s life and provide her with the affection and affirmations she needs to grow into a confident, secure adult. These ten tips can help you build up your daughter’s self-esteem while strengthening your relationship as a whole.
Throw Away Gender Stereotypes – Your daughter needs to know that she can be anything she wants to be, as long as she’s determined to succeed and makes an effort to do so. That means that she needs to know that she’s just as capable of being an astronaut as a wife and mother, and that she’s not hemmed in by her gender. Throw away societal gender roles and spend time playing catch or tinkering with cars, if that’s what she’s into. Don’t tell your daughter that a particular activity is “just for boys” and focus on encouraging her interests.
Show Respect for Women – More than respecting her, your daughter should be able to see you openly appreciating and respecting women as a whole. Refrain from making gender-based quips, even in jest. She’ll only learn that she’s part of a group that you think of as incapable or ineffectual, and somehow inherently inferior to her male peers.
Spend Quality Time Together – It’s important that you spend quality time with your daughter, doing something she likes to do, forging a bond and making memories of a functioning, close relationship. Sometimes all your daughter needs is your attention, so be sure that you’re not depriving her of that fulfillment.
Maintain an Open Line of Communication – It’s much easier to keep lines of communication open when your daughter is a child, as the experiences of growing up and becoming a teenage girl are something that even the most involved father has difficulty identifying with. Just be there for your daughter, listen to her when she speaks and make sure she knows that there’s nothing she can’t discuss with you.
Share Your Expertise – Teaching your daughter new skills not only gives her practical knowledge that will prove useful later in life, it also provides you with the chance to spend time together and gives her the sense of accomplishment that comes along with knowing that she’s mastered something new.
Praise Her Efforts and Accomplishments – Telling your daughter that she’s pretty lets her know that you value her looks, but it’s also important to make a point of praising her accomplishments and efforts. The lion’s share of her self-esteem should come from the confidence that she’s capable of taking effective action, not just looking pretty.
Pay Attention – Look at your daughter when you’re talking, set aside the smartphone and turn off the television. Let her know that you’re interested in what she has to say, and that she’s more important than the email you’re sending or the show you’re watching.
Love Her Unconditionally – Knowing that her father loves her unconditionally and that your love isn’t contingent upon meeting your approval gives your daughter the confidence and security of knowing that she has a strong support system, regardless of what happens.
Encourage Her to Make an Effort – Telling your daughter that you believe in her, that she should take a proactive role in her own life and that she needs to take reasonable risks in order to achieve her goals not only provides her with the encouragement she needs to step out on her own, but also lets her know that you have faith in her ability to succeed. Encourage your daughter to chase her dreams, work towards her goals and make an effort to accomplish the things that are important to her.
Model Good Self-Esteem – Fathers need to model strong self-esteem just as much as mothers do. Your children, regardless of gender, will take cues from the behavior they observe in you regarding how to react to certain situations, how to think and how to feel. Hearing you criticize yourself harshly will cause your daughter to look at herself in the same light, potentially damaging her self-esteem and skewing her perceptions of herself.