Dadvocate: a dad of a daughter who believes without question that she is the leader we've all been waiting for.
You have an amazing daughter. You can’t believe how lucky you are to be her dad. You want to make sure that she has everything she needs to be happy, safe, and fulfilled in her life. You are a Dadvocate and these are the 25 things you are doing as her papa to help your daughter become a total badass:
- Take her emotions seriously
Our girls have big feelings. You know that these feelings don’t make her weak. You recognize her as an emotional superhero able to take on the world with her trusty sidekicks - empathy and compassion. Because of this, you don’t fear or mock or try to shut down her tears. You witness them. You allow them to happen. You remind her that all of her feelings are okay and then, you help her learn how to move through them so that she can continue to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
- Celebrate her effort instead of praising her qualities
You know that phrases like “Great work!” is more effective than “You’re so talented!” any day. This is because you want to encourage her to embrace growth and learning. You don’t want her to feel trapped into a fixed mindset that she can’t escape from. You want her to fall in love with hard work. You want her to know that she can take on any challenge like a boss.
- Teach her about money
Let’s be honest with each other for a minute. Money is very powerful. Sure, it’s not the only source of power in our society, but it’s a big one. As a dad of daughters, you know that women earn and invest less of it than men do. When you teach your daughter the power of money - for good, not for evil - you are setting her up for a life with more freedom of choice.
- Model the kind of guy you want her to hang out with
Who knows what kind of folks your daughter will fall in love with. No matter her sexual preference, it is crucial that she learn to have positive relationships with men and boys. As a Dadvocate, you teach her how to hang out with “the good guys” by being one yourself.
- Respect her boundaries
You want your daughter to trust the power of her own “no.” When she asks you to stop tickling her, you stop. When she asks you to stop teasing her, you stop. When she declares “I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” you move on to the next topic. Sure, she has to follow your rules, but you also make sure to reinforce that her body and feelings belong to her.
- Encourage her to set boundaries
You respect her boundaries so much that you teach her to continue to set them in healthy ways. You remind her that she has the right to tell people what she wants and what she doesn’t want. You take her to a Kidpower workshop to practice these skills. You celebrate her for having the courage to love herself fiercely.
- Believe her no matter what
When her boundaries are crossed by someone in a way that upsets her, you want to hear about it. You want to hear about it every time. You tell her, “I believe you. Thank you for telling me.” You are there to help her.
- Listen to her stories without giving her advice
Sometimes she doesn’t need help. Sometimes, she is just in a grumpy mood and needs to get her feelings out. You know this so you listen. Just listen. You don’t feel like you always have to solve the problem. You understand that, simply by listening, you are accessing the awesome power of empathy. You know that your empathy is so much more powerful that your advice.
- Let her speak for herself
She’s a kid. She is learning to communicate more clearly each day. She doesn’t always get the words right. The words don’t always come out as quickly or efficiently as they could. That doesn’t bother you. You are patient and don’t correct her. You understand that, the more she practices speaking for herself, the stronger her voice will be.
- Help her only with her permission
She is not only learning how to speak for herself, she is learning how to solve her own problems. If she is struggling to reach the milk on the top shelf of the refrigerator, you know not to automatically grab it for her. You wait. You love to discover how she might do it on her own. You might ask “How can I help you?” and see what happens next.
- Educate yourself about misogyny
You understand that misogyny is a hatred and discrimination against women and girls that has woven its way into the institutional fabric of our society. You see misogyny in the media you consume. You hear it in the stories of some of your male friends. You feel it in our current political landscape. If you are raising a daughter of color, you know that misogyny is even more insipid. Every once in awhile, you turn to sites like Everyday Feminism to fill in the blanks of your knowledge.
- Recognize where you have privilege
Your male privilege may be a tough thing for you to embrace. You may be a black man, a gay man, an immigrant, a trans man, or someone else grappling with your own forms of oppression. But despite that, you know, as a someone going through the world as a man, you are carrying a certain level of privilege that your daughter does not have. You know that you are allowed to take up more space in most situations without being called “bossy,” “hysterical” or “a bitch.”
- Stand up to injustice
You believe in the fair treatment of all people and are hurt by all acts of injustice. You do what you can to resist, stand up, and speak out. You involve your daughter in acts of social justice - acts like donating money to your favorite cause, volunteering in your community, and attending marches and rallies.
- Show up
Of course you are busy. We all are. But you know how important it is to show up for her as much as you can. You show up for the big things and the little things because you know that they are all big things to her. You prioritize your time and make the impossible happen.
- Take an active interest in the stuff she likes
You’re excited to coach her soccer team because you played soccer as a kid and know how important team sports are to her development. But when she decides she is done with soccer and moves on to ballet, you go with the flow. You’ve never danced ballet in your life but you sign up to stage manage her ballet recital. You want her to know that you care about what she cares about.
- Share your interests with her
She may seem too young to care about your collection of vintage Jazz LPs or brewing kombucha. But you know that your relationship with your daughter is a two-way street. You want her to get to know you as much as you are getting to know her. You share your passions with her in developmentally appropriate ways because you know how meaningful it is for her to see what lights you up.
- Love her unconditionally
This goes without saying. No matter what she loves, what she can do, or what kind of father's day gifts she gets you, you love her to the moon and back. And you tell her so, everyday.
- Encourage her mistakes
You know how much the pressure to be perfect can hold girls back from doing cool stuff. Because of this, you give her all the room she needs to make mistakes. You deal with the mess because you want her to feel comfortable learning and growing from each and every mistake. You let her know that it’s okay to try things that are hard and you encourage her to shake it off and try again.
- Share your mistakes
She needs to know how wonderfully imperfect you are too. You come home from work on a random Tuesday and share a mistake you made that day. You let her know how you felt when you made it. You share with her what you learned from that mistake. You know that this vulnerability connects you. You know that it gives her permission to be as resilient as she is.
- Have positive relationships with strong women
You are proud of the badass women in your life. Her mom, your mom. Your sister, your boss, your best friend. You cultivate relationships with these women that are based in open communication and mutual respect. You find every opportunity for your daughter to be around these women.
- Educate yourself about her body
You are grateful for how much these badass women can teach your daughter about being a woman. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t shy away from “the girl stuff” yourself. As she grows, your daughter is going to have a lot of questions about her body - how it’s changing and why. You don’t close your eyes and pray that she asks her mother. You welcome each opportunity to share your wisdom with her too. When she is able to have a normal conversation with you about the very normal things that are happening to her body, then she feels...well...normal.
- Celebrate what her body can do
As girls develop into women, they have to navigate too many messages about how their bodies look. They wonder if they are thin enough or pretty enough. You know all of that is a load of bull. You counteract those messages with celebrations of what she can do with that miraculous body of hers. You compliment how fast she can run, how graceful she can twirl, how high she can jump.
- Teach her about boys - the good, bad and the ugly
You are so tired of that played out stereotype of that dad who greets the boys with a shotgun and a get-your-hands-off-my-daughter attitude. Not only is it boring, you know that it’s also demeaning to your daughter. This stereotype suggests that she is not able to take care of herself in her own relationships. So instead of aggressively keeping the boys away from her, you teach your daughter what you know about boys. What they might want. How they might treat her. How to discern between good and not-so-good intentions. You give her these tools so that she can use them to make her own choices.
- Keep the dad jokes coming
She may roll her eyes at your incessant love of puns, but you don’t let that stop you. You know how important humor and silliness is for building trust between you and your daughter. Laughter relaxes us, eases our stress, allows us to connect. You know that you don’t have to land the perfect joke. You just have to be willing to not take yourself too seriously.
- Buy this shirt
You’re a Dadvocate. Go ahead and declare it to the world.