Dads Raising Daughters: On Teaching Girls They Are Smart And Beautiful

You may have noticed here at The Frisky we pull a lot of stuff out of our ass. 5 Things You Can Lie To Your Therapist About! 7 Ways To Wear Roadkill This Season! 13 Ways To Orgasm Using Pinterest! But a serious subject calls for Serious Journalism. And for some Serious Journalism this Father’s Day, I lazily emailed all the men I know who have  young daughters and asked them for advice on raising healthy, happy girls as a modern-day dad.

For this first installment of Dads Raising Daughters, I turned to Tony, the father of three girls under the age of nine; Adam, the father of two daughters under the age of four; Jim, the father of a nine-year-old girl; Joe (AKA Frisky commenter _JSW_), the father of two girls under the age of twelve; and Jesse, the father of three girls under eight. Over the next several days, I’ll be sharing with you some of their fab (and adorable) advice.

First up, how to teach your girl she is smart and beautiful.

Dads today know its not just enough to read the bedtime stories, make the PB&J sandwiches, or pay the bills. Fatherhood is also about instilling in your daughter the idea that she is smart, kind, beautiful, funny, and all the other wonderful things their dads see that they are. Adam shared a really adorable story about his daughter, M., coming home from ballet and and telling her parents, ‘N and S called me a piggy today in ballet class.’  “Her little lip started to curl … which just about makes your heart fall out and die,” he recalled. Adam and his wife told their daughter to tell the girls they were being mean and if they persisted, tell the teacher or move to a different seat. “I had an ignorant male epiphany about just how awful women can be to one another, and how all the stories all my girl friends over the years, and my wife had told me about frenemies and catty behavior came crashing in to reality,” he wrote. “M. is one of the sweetest most empathetic children I have ever met, to the point it is worrisome at times… for these little girls to single her out made me want to die and punch something at the same time.  And it is a mere glimpse in to the string of behavior she’ll have for the rest of her life.”

Tony says he praises his daughter when he helps her with homework and when she takes initiative to figure out a problem herself. He also understands that telling his girls they are beautiful is important (and he’s “not above doing their  hair when their mother is tired”!). Tony explains, “When my daughters look nice, I tell them they do.” He also discusses the media’s portrayal of women and girls — in an age appropriate way — and “I always tell her ‘You are great the way you are.'”

Joe said that he’d rather have his daughters realize on their own that they are smart, rather than just tell them it is so. “I don’t so much teach my daughters they are smart as I give them opportunities to realize that they are –puzzles, games, books, questions,” he wrote. Joe also said that he has complimented his daughters’ appearance, but he realizes there are better words for a girl to hear from her dad: “Far more often than I tell them they are beautiful, I tell them I love them.”

But my favorite quote from a dad on this subject was Jim, who put it most succinctly and, in my opinion, the most perfect way:

“I do tell my daughter that she’s smart as well as beautiful, in part because I want her to grow up understanding that these things are not incompatible. But mostly because it’s true.”


Stay tuned the rest of the week for more Dads Raising Daughters advice!

Contact the author of this post at [email protected] Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.