She may be Daddy’s little girl now, but if you do your job right, you’ll raise her to be an independent young woman — one who knows right from wrong and how to stick to the values you taught her. Perhaps no greater test of those values comes when she starts dating. Dr. Linda Nielsen, professor of adolescent and educational psychology at Wake Forest University and author of the book “Between Fathers & Daughters: Enriching and Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship,” says fathers have more important lessons to offer their daughters than they might realize. And when it comes to men, Nielsen recommends teaching your daughter to make wise choices and get the best out of her relationships with men by teaching her these five things:
- Anger and Assertiveness Teach your daughter that it’s a good thing for her to express her anger and to be assertive about her opinions and her needs. It may sound counter intuitive to a peaceful household, but let your daughter practice on you while she is growing up. Don’t withdraw from her when she is upset. By encouraging her to express herself you will enhance her future relationships with the men in her life.
- Be Herself Teach your daughter to remain true to what she values. Show appreciation for her talents and interests and she will be less likely to try to change who she is to win a man’s love or approval in future.
- Communication Teach your daughter to communicate directly with the men in her life. Share this lesson by not allowing her to communicate with you through her mother or others in the family. Her brother, her boyfriend and her boss will thank you later.
- Money Teach your daughter how to become financially self-reliant so she grows up without believing that a man–her father, a boyfriend or a husband–is the key to avoiding financial hardships or increasing her financial status. Teach her a simple equation: Good Grades + Educational Interests = Higher Earning Potential. Not needing a man for monetary reasons will allow her the freedom and confidence to make wiser choices about relationships–choices based on love rather than on a man’s money or status.
- Myths and misconceptions Teach her to let go of the myths and misconceptions she has about men. Don’t let negative stereotypes limit your relationship. Talk with her about these sexist myths and misconceptions. For example, show her that men are willing to talk about personal issues, men can be empathetic and nurturing, men can communicate well and men do love their children just as much as women.