Becoming a new parent is a huge milestone in any person’s life. For dads, becoming a father may not have been something they felt ready for, no matter how excited they may be about their baby. And for dads of daughters, the prospect of raising a little girl may seem slightly terrifying. But the role of a father in a daughter’s life is incredibly important.
Fathers affect the lives of their daughters well into adulthood.1 Dads can raise their daughters’ chances of succeeding in college, careers, and romantic relationships. And while parenting may not come naturally to some mothers or fathers, most moms have someone they can turn to for advice about raising kids. On the other hand, Dads don’t always have that reassuring friend to guide them.
We reached out to two “girl dad” veterans to get the scoop on what they learned in their journey of raising girls! Hopefully, their experience and advice can enlighten the girl dads of today!
What I Learned Being a Girl Dad
Tom is a dad of two grown girls who are now mamas of their own kiddos. Steve is a proud papa of three young women successfully launched into the world. Here are the lessons they learned along the way:
What are some things you learned by being a “girl dad”?
Tom: I learned that most girls are sensitive about your admiration of them. They want to please you, yet they don’t want to lose their independence. It’s a very strange balancing act while they’re growing up.
Steve: I learned girls are more sensitive and have tender hearts. You must have patience, love, and be a good listener.
What are some things you learned by being a parent in general?
Tom: Being a parent is extremely hard. No course can tell you how to react in all conditions or cases of raising a child.
Steve: It’s not about me anymore. You learn to put your children ahead of your own needs and wants.
What was your biggest fear in raising girls?
Tom: My biggest fear in raising girls was not living up to what I expected from them. I was a pretty strict dad, but I knew they were always watching to see if I was what I preached to them.
Steve: I feared they would stray from their upbringing and make bad choices.
What did you look forward to raising girls?
Tom: I most looked forward to teaching my girls some guy things. But I was proud of the activities they were involved in, from soccer to dancing to cheerleading to writing. I was proud of their appreciation of music and fishing and their love of the outdoors.
Steve: Just the opportunity to raise them and embrace the time with them. When they’re small, they’re so precious. Time goes by so fast.
What were some important lessons you wanted to make sure your girls learned?
Tom: The most important lesson I wanted them to learn was integrity. I expect hard work and accountability for their actions, no matter the cost. I wanted them to understand the importance of faith in their life and hoped their mother and I could be examples for them.
Steve: Love God, respect family, friends, and all people. Always stand for your rights and beliefs. Help others in need.
Do you think you would have parented differently by having a boy?
Tom: I believe I would have been quite different parenting a boy. My dad was a good example. What I feared most from my dad was his disappointment.
Steve: I probably would have been less sensitive and used more tough love. Tough love on girls doesn’t pan out smoothly.
What was something that surprised you about raising girls?
Tom: Everything surprised me in raising girls; the good and the not-so-good!
Steve: Nothing specific. But each of our daughters was very different. But their differences blend wonderfully in the family element.
What is some advice you would give to other girl dads?
Tom: My advice to other girl dads is it’s easier to have a son as a partner or a buddy. But your girls are your heart, and they always will be.
Steve: Make time for your girls. Savor your moments and time while raising them. It goes by so fast.
It’s true that a father indeed holds his daughter’s hand for a short while, but he holds her heart forever. A girl’s first love is her father, so dads out there, we hope these answers from girl dads prepared you for your little girl. And to other girl dads, let us know what advice you would give.