- Diaper, feed, bathe, dress and read to her.
- Don’t insist she play with so-called girls’ or boys’ toys.
Toddler to preteen years
- Do silly things with her. Have tea parties, play Barbies.
- Introduce her to sports, even male-dominated ones.
- Get involved in her school activities, field trips, sports teams and projects.
- Work together around the house. Teach her how to make and fix things.
- Don’t make gender comparisons that imply that femininity is somehow inferior, such as “You’re as strong as a boy.”
The teen years
- Be a role model. The qualities you embody will influence your daughter’s future relationships with men.
- Discuss and come to an agreement with your partner about tough topics like sex, extreme dress, drugs and risk taking, then be prepared to talk with your daughter when these issues come up. The goal is to help her learn to make good decisions and to say no … and not just because daddy said so.
- Don’t focus only on her looks; pay attention to what your daughter says, thinks, feels and dreams. On the other hand, her appearance is one aspect of her whole person, so don’t be afraid to tell her she looks pretty.
- Don’t encourage dieting. Instead, promote healthy eating and exercise.
Finally, both parents should remember that a man’s most crucial ally is his daughter’s mother. “I am blessed with a wife who supports my having a strong relationship with my daughters in both obvious and subtle ways,” says Richard Rhodes. “She keeps encouraging me to find my own way with them, one that is different from hers.”