Becoming a parent is a steep learning curve, becoming a dad to girls is even steeper.
Here's a list of seven things about girls to tell the dad in their life:
1. Never blame hormones on mood swings (although it's probably true)
Growing up is hard enough. Growing up a girl can be a minefield of hormonal outbursts. The growth of hair, the unexplainable mood swings and getting your period is really embarrassing, scary to navigate and overwhelming. The last thing a girl needs is to feel like their body is betraying them and by blaming hormones you, inadvertently blame them, for something that is out of their control. They don't need more shame at this stage of their life, they need love, support and for you to understand what their body is going through. Do some research about menstruation. You owe it them to learn, even if they never want to talk to you about it.
2. Not all girls like pink and cartwheels
Of course, there are girls (and boys) who love pink and dancing and unicorns and butterflies. You get my drift. But there are also many girls who couldn't care less about those things and definitely don't like wearing pink. Ask them what they're into, don't assume. You'd be surprised how many girls would be far happier kicking a football or climbing a tree, so it's up to you to create opportunities for them try everything.
3. They want to spend time with you
You could be excused for thinking your daughter is sometimes a mystery to you. Don't worry she's a mystery to her mum too. But you know what? She would be totally thrilled to spend one-on-one time with you doing things that you enjoy. Take her fishing or to the footy or the art gallery or to see a show. Grab a meal, get a milkshake, go for a bushwalk or ride your bikes to the playground. Paint a picture together or throw a Frisbee. Just hang out together.
4. They can pick a dud a mile off
You need to understand that girls can spot a fool a mile off. When you make a mistake, don't try to cover it up, just own up to it. There's no point blaming others for your mistakes. Girls are good for keeping you committed to your goals and making sure you follow through with your promises. Don't let them down, you'll never hear the end of it.
5. Don't let them manipulate you
The way you interact with your daughter is setting them up for all their future relationships with men. Letting them 'wrap you around their little finger' is not setting them up for positive interactions with other men. Instead of relying on crocodile tears or cutesy behavior to get their own way, encourage them to ask for what they want with confidence. And if they do make mistakes and get in trouble, speak with them about how they could make better choices. They look to you to guide them in male behavior, it's a big responsibility to show them how awesome and caring men should be.
6. The silent treatment won't work
Most girls, not all of them, need to hear validation. They also want to talk about what's going in their lives and how they're feeling about it. So, cut the small talk and have a conversation with your girls. Build them up and make them feel heard. Show them how real men are respectful and caring. Show them how real men listen, value and act on what women have to say. Silence isn't manly, it's lazy.
7. Girls can do anything
You need to know that girls see examples everyday that make them question their equality and safety in this world. It's up to you to counteract that. If you see something in the community that puts your daughter at a disadvantage then speak up. Encourage them to give everything a shot and tell them they can be anything they want. And while you're teaching them to be tough, ambitious and brave, don't forget to also show them that men are gentle and kind.