The late great Kobe Bryant called himself a “girl dad”—a dad of daughters, or a father of mostly girls and no sons. He always believed that raising girls, or just girls in general, are the best—and that he would have five more daughters if he could. And he was right. There is nothing more rewarding than parenting, and raising daughters is one of the most wonderful things a father could experience. This task is understandably daunting, though, as men and women have many differences and every first-time father could use the help. Here are some tips and pointers for becoming the best girl dad you could be.
Don’t shy away from doing feminine things.
It’s understandable if your gut instinct is to let your partner take over the task of looking through baby girl clothes for sale or learning how to do french braids, but it would do you and your daughter a world of good if you were more involved in these things. You might feel like your baby is too young to understand the effort you’re making, but you’re doing this for you and your partner, as well. If your daughter grows up with a father who bonds with her through dress-up and play, she will grow up thinking of you as someone she can connect with through her hobbies.
Don’t enforce gender stereotypes.
At the same time, don’t force your daughter to be someone she’s not or do something she doesn’t want to do. If she’s not into dresses or playing princesses and would rather be the cowboy instead, let her. A big part of parenting is encouraging our kids to find who and what they want to be and guiding them through it, instead of forcing our dreams and desires onto them. Our job is to guide and make sure that they’re safe as they reach for their dreams and become who they really are. We can see this in Kobe Bryant’s parenting—he encouraged his daughter Gianna to get into his career, even though basketball is seen as a more “masculine” sport, but his wife and daughters loved him for it.
Studies show that girls who grow up with present fathers—both physically and emotionally—grow up to be healthier and more well-adjusted adults. Being present is more than just providing for them financially or literally being with them physically. Still, it involves active listening and being involved in their lives, hobbies, and other values and interests. If they grow up without your being emotionally and mentally present, they will see right through it when you spend time with them out of duty. Be a present father in every sense of the word and intentionally build a friendship with them.
Be the first to make the world a less misogynistic place.
Making the world a less misogynistic place means being the first to encourage women’s strengths and celebrate their minds, and it should start at home. If your daughter grows up in an environment where they hear from their fathers that women are terrible drivers or don’t belong in traditionally male spaces like STEM, one of two things can happen: They can internalize this and believe they’re less than, or they can grow up to hate men. So be the first to champion male and female equality in your home and celebrate all the ways your daughter is capable, strong, and every bit as deserving as any boy she grows up with.
The Bottom Line
Being a girl dad can be daunting, but it is also gratifying. So take your cue from Kobe Bryant and be the best girl dad you can be. You can do it!