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Posted by ― Josiah, father to an 11-year-old daughter, Father, husband, nonprofit professional, eclectic reader and writer. josiahbrown.org on November 02, 2016
“Little girls can be as gross, dirty and tough as any boy has ever been.”
Lots of women proudly identify as “boy moms,” but less often do you hear about a “girl dad.”
Girl dads are the fathers of daughters ― the ones who are pros at doing hair in front of the mirror, or taking the extra seat at stuffed animal tea parties. Of course there’s no one way to be a girl (or a dad); a girl dad may spend just as much time talking dinosaurs as princesses.
But no matter what, there’s just something special about the bond between a father and a daughter. We asked 13 dads of girls to tell us the best part about parenting daughters.
Here’s what they said:
I’m a stay-at-home dad, so I spend nearly every waking moment with my daughter and I get to see every facet of her personality.
I have never been a stereotypical “guy.” I used to play with stuffed animals and a Little Tikes kitchen instead of cars and I’ve always preferred the arts over sports. It’s nice that I am able to bond with someone who is as emotional and empathetic as I am and to nurture her toward expressing her feelings and passions rather than hiding them away.
We live in a society that tells both boys and girls that they can be whoever and whatever they want, but I think that we mean different things when we address the different sexes. We encourage boys to be the heroes and we expect girls to be the princesses who need to be rescued.
One of my favorite things about having a daughter is my responsibility to teach her that she can do anything as good as—or probably better than—a boy. She’s still a bit too young to know what she really wants to do with her life, but I hope that I can inspire her to chase her dream with hard work and determination.
― Austin, father to a 3-1/2-year-old daughter
Just listening to their ideas for the future. It is amazing how much you can learn from your daughters if you are just willing to sit and listen. They will tell you how they are going to build a rocket ship to go live in outer space, they will tell you how they will make sure people know girls can like blue and boys can like pink, and they will tell you that they love to snuggle when they are feeling sad.
We also like moving “girls” and boys” signs in stores that try to sell toys specifically to boys or to girls because that’s just nonsense.
― Mike, father to a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old daughter, Puzzling Posts
― Sam, father to 23-month-old twin girls
The best part of being a dad to girls is smashing stereotypes about what it means to be a man. I want them to see me doing their hair, cooking, cleaning, giving them baths, attending doctor appointments, and reading to them so they’ll always know these aren’t “mom tasks.” I also want to teach them that they can do whatever a man can do. Am I a feminist dad? Damn right I am, and I’m proud of it.
My daughters have… taught me to be soft and not so serious all the time. Taught me about tea parties, word games and that I have a knack for silly character voices. Taught me to love from my toes and with all that I have. Taught me how to trust first and have faith in people. Taught me that little girls can be as gross, dirty and tough as any boy has ever been, likely worse. Taught me that holding hands in the car can mean more than anything I could ever think to say. Taught me to be kind even when I don’t want to be. Taught me that even though the world isn’t fair, that I should try to be. Taught me to love those different than me, without seeing the different. Taught me that cuddles before bedtime is mandatory to get good sleep. Cookies and a glass of milk help a lot too. Taught me that I am capable of more than I thought I was. Taught me how to be a man, a father, and a better husband.
― Timothy, father to a 9-year-old and a 20-year-old daughter
Seeing her develop independence and helping her find and shape that. I’ll admit I was far more interested in raising a strong girl than a boy, though in retrospect it wouldn’t really matter. But it’s what I love most. I feel an immense urge to protect her, but I’m happiest when I’m helping her protect herself.
― Chris Rugen, father of an 8-year-old daughter
The best part is not feeling any limitations. Want to have a tea party? Awesome. Reenact Wrestlemania V? Oooooh yaaaaa! Dancing to T-Swift or teaching them about football, it’s all on the table and so much fun. I doubt most dads with sons feel the same freedom, it’s too bad.
―Spencer, father to a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old daughter, Fight For Your Right To Potty
Gosh, where to start. Just one part? Big picture, the chance to raise and put into the world a pair of strong, bright, thoughtful, curious, creative and confident women. Selfishly, being the dad of daughters has made me an infinitely better man. My eyes have been opened to the injustices and inequalities in the world, and I want nothing more than to be a part of the solution to those problems.
― Jeff, father to a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old daughter, Out With The Kids
The thing I love most about being a dad to my soon to be 2-year-old girl is that we can be 100% silly together. We both make each other laugh. This either means that she’s extremely mature or I’m extremely immature. I’ll accept either.
― La Guardia, father to a 2-year-old girl (and one on the way!),LaGuardiaCross.com
Eating dinner on a dining room table that’s 95% filled with at least a dozen ongoing craft and science projects. Also, hugs. Lots of great hugs.
― Jeff, father to an 8-year-old and 11-year-old daughter
I was never a “man’s man” by any means, whatever that means, but my three daughters have taught me that sensitivity and compassion are qualities to be desired. I’ve never met anybody as thoughtful and caring as my girls, and in a hyper-masculine society, those traits aren’t always valued. They’ve got me wrapped around their little fingers, and I love every minute of it.
― Stephen, father to 4-year-old, 6-year-old and 9-month old daughter
Having to reevaluate the ways, subtle and overt, that society, including myself, push girls and women into different boxes. It’s one thing to stand up and declare yourself a feminist, it’s another to be in a position to see the effects of a society that pushes women away in ways it doesn’t do to men because you have a person in your life you want to give unlimited opportunity to.
My daughter is amazing. She loves dresses and she loves climbing things and getting dirty. She loves science and she loves pink. And I want her to be able to continue to love those things without fear she’s doing it wrong. So that’s both amazing, being there to help her fight to be herself and at times, disheartening. But, I can’t imagine it any other way.
― Devon, father to a 4-year-old daughter
It’s hard to identify one specific “best part” of being a dad to a daughter ― both because there are multiple fulfilling aspects and because many of those same rewards apply also to being the father of a son! Our bond isn’t stronger than that with my son (or than my wife’s relationship with each of our children). But there is a distinctive responsibility and pleasure that comes with being a dad who tries ― however fitfully ― to model for our daughter (and son) how to be a strong yet sensitive, upstanding yet good-humored member of our family and community. Whether the issue is peer pressure or health/body image, kindness or hard work, my hope is that our daughter will develop a sturdy balance that will allow her to thrive as a good person, healthy and happy.