The moment a little girl is born, her dad becomes her view of the world of men. As she grows up, she will look to her dad for guidance on how men behave, carry themselves, and react to others and situations.1 While we may not always realize it, our children constantly observe us and learn from our every move—both negatively and positively. As a father, it is your responsibility to raise a daughter who feels that she deserves respect. And doing this comes from how you treat your wife.
My daughter has been enamored with her dad from day one. Although she is still young, her dad has been her source of comfort when she is sad, healing when she falls down, and laughter when she needs a smile. It is no surprise to me that my daughter feels this way. As his wife, I also look to him for those things.
New fathers have a lot of responsibility to raise their children to be good humans. As a new father to a baby girl, that pressure to ensure you and her future spouse loves her can feel insurmountable. The best thing you can do is treat your wife the way you want your daughter to be treated.
How to Treat Your Wife Because Your Daughter is Watching
Respect has many different meanings, especially when it comes to a relationship. If you are constantly belittling your wife, your daughter will see this and think that this is a normal way to be treated by a man. For many, respect can mean helping out with household chores, putting your wife’s needs ahead of your own, and speaking with an even tone during discussions. Being a good listener and communicator is also essential when showing your wife respect.
A simple “good morning, you look beautiful today” can improve your wife’s day. The smile your daughter sees on mom’s face after that simple sentence will introduce the idea that husbands and partners should always be building up their significant other in both big and small ways. And try to focus on more than just the outer appearance. Tell your wife that she did a fantastic job on her recent work assignment. Or randomly tell her what a wonderful mother she is. Instilling confidence in your wife will trickle down to your daughter. She will, in turn, look for a spouse who also gives her this kind of support and adoration.
Create Equal Ground
Your daughter should never feel as though she is less than anyone else. As a husband, you must create a sense of balance in the home. This comes when both partners are treated as equals. Today, families can look very different. There may be two husbands or two wives in the family. Or a husband who stays home with the kids while his spouse goes to work. No matter what your family dynamic looks like, there should never be a time when your daughter sees you barking orders at your spouse, refusing to help because it isn’t “your job,” discussing frustrating monetary issues in front of her, or creating an environment of hostility. When you treat your wife as an equal, your daughter will grow up believing that she is also equal. This will help her find a stable relationship and help her in her career and friendships.
Although she may give you a grossed-out face and say “Ewww” every time you give your wife a smooch, showing this kind of affection is extremely important for kids to see. Displaying affection is an outward way to show love, respect, and support. Hugging your wife when you come home or kissing her goodbye every morning reminds your kids that you love each other fully and support each other no matter what the day holds. Displays of affection can also include holding hands during your evening family walks or cuddling on the couch during family movie night.
Perform Acts of Kindness
Acts of kindness are one of the paramount ways to keep a relationship strong. Promoting acts of kindness in your home will inspire children to do the same in their relationships. See the sink piled with dishes after a long day of work? Do them. Notice your wife may need a bit of a break? Offer to take the kids on a walk so she can get some alone time. Fix the family a special treat after dinner. Suggest taking everyone for ice cream on a Saturday afternoon. Do a chore you know your wife loathes without being asked. All of these little things can shift the energy of a room greatly, and your daughter will take notice.
Know When to Apologize
Being a dad comes with a lot of pressure. No one expects every dad always to be perfect. Sometimes you may raise your voice, get frustrated or angry, or even say something you may regret later. That’s all part of being human. But, instead of forgetting about those mistakes, turn them into teachable moments. Apologize to your wife, explain that you understand what you did wrong, and assure her that you will work not to let it happen again—showing your daughters that even as dads, you are not perfect is an important lesson as well.
To all the dads of daughters: you have an enormous responsibility, which may seem overwhelming at first. But please know that you’re doing a great job. Your role in your wife’s and daughter’s lives is so important!