When you’re the father of a little girl, or a troupe of little girls, people will always be asking you if you want to try for boys as well.
Don’t let them get you down: Dads aren’t just for boys, and you can enjoy raising a girl just as much, if not more.
Still, it can be a bit scary to have a girl on your hands, maybe even a little intimidating if you always imagined you be the father of sons. So, here are some little things to remember.
1. Don’t Be Afraid To Wipe
When the baby lying in front of you is a chubby little baby girl, there are a lot of nooks and crannies to deal with. They all have to be kept clean, so take some time to educate yourself on that. Ask your partner, or your midwife, about anything you aren’t sure about. Make sure you always wipe from front to back (so there’s no poop transferred), and don’t shy away.
2. Teach Her, And Use, The Word Vagina
Sure it’s a lot cuter and more ‘in public’ appropriate to use words like ‘winkie’ or even ‘flower’, but the fact is that your girl (or girls) need to be educated about their genitals. From the point of potty training, teach your girl the word vagina, and explain properly why they need to wipe and keep themselves clean. Studies show that kids who know the correct names for their genitals are more open to talking about something uncomfortable about them.
3. Learn To Do Hair
The amount of your knowledge is going to depend on what your daughter expects from you, but don’t just assume this is “mum’s job”. Some girls are happy with a quick brush and a ponytail, others want clips, plaits and all the works. You don’t have to be an expert, but at least get one simple hairstyle that your girl loves down pat.
4. Tell Her She’s Pretty, And More
It’s great to tell your daughter that she’s pretty, but don’t just tell her that. Yes, tell her she’s gorgeous and beautiful, as well as clever and brave and resourceful and imaginative and strong. Girls are more than just things to look at, and while there’s no point pretending that looks don’t matter (we’re a shallow society), you also can’t let her believe that’s the only thing she should judge herself or others on.
5. Girls Can Learn “Handyman” Skills
There are so many useful skills that a person can learn in a household, but for some reason, some of those skills have been gendered. While girls learn to bake and clean, boys are out learning how to do simple car repairs or change a bike puncture. Don’t let that be the reality in your house. Include your daughter in simple skills like changing a tyre, fixing the toilet or even squashing a bug, and make her more resourceful for the future.
6. You Are Her Male Role Model
Whatever happens during your relationship with your daughter (or daughters), remember that you are going to be one of the strongest male role models in her life. Children are like sponges and your daughter is learning about boys and how it’s appropriate for them to act from you. So be careful what you say around them, and be careful how you act. You could be making more of an impact than you think.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Show Your Sensitive Side
Some girls find their dads inaccessible later in life when it comes to tough topics because they believe their dads won’t understand. If you want to really be there for her, show her from the start that you have a sensitive side as well. Play dress ups with her, attend tea parties, read stories in all the different voices, and have a cry when something sad happens. That’s life.
8. Avoid Getting Caught Up In “Being A Girl”
When it comes down to the wire, girls and boys are not so different. When you become a dad, you’ll realise that there’s not much you can do with a boy that you can’t do with a girl. Many girls love going fishing and camping with their dad, or visiting the hardware store, or helping out with things that you love. You can have all of that while still loving pink and sparkly everywhere. Don’t stress about what it means to be a girl with your daughter, you’ll only limit her. Just go with the flow while she figures it out.
9. Teach Her About Relationships, Using Yours
As well as teaching her about boys, you and your wife are teaching your daughter about relationships. With so many women falling prey to violent and dangerous relationships, it’s so important to make it clear to your daughter what a healthy relationship looks like. Teach her that relationships are about mutual respect and equality by showing that in your own relationship. Remember, kids are sponges!
10. Don’t Tell Her She Can’t
One of the most damaging things that girls hear from those around them is that they can’t do something because they’re a girl. This comes in the same category as terms like “throw like a girl” and “run like a girl”, and it’s absolutely crap. If your daughter can’t do something, it will be because she has tried it and found it beyond her abilities, not because someone has judged her based on her gender or the way that she looks. Encourage your daughter to reach her full potential by telling her that anything is possible, with the right effort.