How To Raise The Perfect Daughter

As Light as Air

The answer to the question in the headline is written in invisible ink, right next to how to be a perfect father, the answer to how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop and the answer to the classic blunder ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia.’

My daughter sent me a top secret note that says, “Dad, I love you, but I think we need to know everything about each other. So u write questions for me and I’ll write questions for u.

What Questions Did She Ask?

Don’t bother asking because I am not going to tell you. It might be surprising to some of you, but I play my cards close to the vest and some things aren’t ever shared.

Truthfully it is not important what she asked to anyone but her family, but it caught my eye for a variety of reasons.

This dark haired beauty of mine is almost nine years old and far too sharp for her own good. I love that about her. I love her inquisitive nature and a million other things about her which is why I often ask myself what I can do to raise the perfect daughter because she deserves it.

She deserves a great dad and I am doing my best to be that for her, but sometimes it is frustrating because I feel like I fall short.

I Wonder About Parents Who Never Question Their Parenting Skills/Choices

I am a good father. I know that and I am willing to say I am better than most, but that doesn’t mean I never wonder if I am making mistakes. It would be foolish to not wonder about the choices and decisions I have made. It would be foolish not to ask if I could have done things better.

And it is foolish to spend too much time worrying about what has happened because it is done. I have made mistakes and I’ll make some more, but I’ll make good decisions too and that is just how life goes.

But life goes in a million different directions and some of the things my girl is going to have to deal with will happen no matter what I do.

Women and girls make me crazy sometimes because y’all (I am in Texas) do a mighty good job of beating each other up. I know a million different stories about mean girls, mean moms and mean women from all of the women in my life.

So I wonder about what I can do to help my daughter navigate this kind of crap safely.

Be A Kid

I work hard to help her be a kid. I don’t go crazy about princesses and I don’t care if she likes to play princess or watch those Disney movies. Maybe if that was her sole aspiration I would feel differently.

I talk with her about life. I listen and I remind her that her value is tied up in things that have nothing to do with looks, but society is sending other messages. Girls are and their big sisters are sending other messages.

Women in the mall tell her how pretty her hair is and how cute her shoes/dress is.

Is that wrong/bad?

Nah, I doubt it, but I wonder and worry a bit about things.

She loves to play soccer and I am grateful. Sports will help build her confidence and activity will help her in a million other ways.

But it is hard sometimes.

Daughters Are Different

Daughters are different from sons, not better or worse, just different.

I know what it means to be a boy because I was one. Some might even say I still am. 😉

But girls, well you guys just look at the world a bit differently and though I might say it is screwy and twisted I love you all anyway.

And my daughter, well, that is a different sort of love. A father’s love where I just try to figure out what I can do to help her live the kind of life she wants to live while making sure she learns to be responsible and accountable.

I Don’t Have The Answer

I don’t have the answer, but I am working on it. Call me goofy, but I keep hearing Superchicken saying “you know the job was dangerous when you took it.”

Well, that is true but it is a lot of fun too.

What do you think?

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  1. Sue Neal April 5, 2013 at 9:44 am

    You listen – that makes you a great Dad in my book. Your daughter’s a lucky girl 🙂


  2. Josette Plank April 5, 2013 at 1:20 am

    Great post!

    I have 14yo and 11yo daughters. And I agree with Betsy: as un-feminisit and stereotypical and condescending as this sounds, every girl likes to be Dad’s Girl and feel like she has a number one protector, even when she is fully capable of protecting herself.

    My dad passed away 12 years ago, and even though I’m a wife and mother and general bad ass, that unconditional father’s love and feeling of being safe in that love is something no one else can replace.

    • Jack April 5, 2013 at 5:24 am

      Hi Josette,

      A bunch of my female friends have said the same thing about the role their fathers played in their lives which is good I suppose because I love being that person for my daughter.

      I want her to grow up to be independent and capable of doing anything and everything, but I won’t complain if she always sees herself as Daddy’s girl.

  3. Jeff Stephens April 4, 2013 at 3:37 am

    Great post. I’m right there with you! I have two daughters and constantly find myself feeling similar to what you said. I think, am I doing everything I can to enable them going forward in life. I know they are going to encounter bad situations, spiteful girls, boy drama, etc. I’m trying to shelter as much as I can yet get them ready for when it happens. It’s life, we can’t shield them…and shouldn’t shield them from the reality of it. Thanks for the post and keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Jack April 5, 2013 at 4:38 am

      Hi Jeff,

      It is hard to see them go through some things when you know from the start that things are probably going to get a bit ugly, but they have to do it or they don’t learn.

      I suppose we could say the same about parenting. Some things have to be experienced or you don’t learn how to help your kids through them.

  4. Jason April 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Sup Jack. I was one of four boys. My education in raising a daughter amounts to JACK SQUAT. Yet, here I am. 2/3 of mine are girls at 7YO and 6MO. Yes, we’re officially leaving the seat down. Just yesterday my ‘Lil Miss started crying,….for no reason. The Wife looks up from consoling her and says, “Welcome to having a girl.” I’m pulling up the boot straps, ‘cuz I love her, she’s mine, and I love her. ‘Nuff said. The rest follows what you’ve said. Loads of talks, encouraging thought, and so forth. Great post.

    The Cheeky Daddy

    • Jack April 5, 2013 at 4:34 am

      Hi Jason,

      Six and Seven Months? Should I send you a cup of coffee to help keep you awake, because it sounds like your hands are full.

      Daughters are wonderful, so are sons, I love them both, but daughters are bit different and that is ok.

  5. Fay April 3, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I’m a mother and a daughter. If you care enough to be a good father and admit that you’ve made mistakes I would say you’re on the right track. Don’t think mothers understand their girls better than dads, at some point all girls are a mystery. You just gotta shower them with love and pray that they’ll make it through happy and healthy.

  6. Carolyn April 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Hey Jack, I’m surprised you didn’t ask me to be a guest author on this topic, as I have three perfect daughters! Well, maybe not perfect…

    I respectfully disagree with jetts31. The most important thing is love. When children know they are loved unconditionally they will be okay. Nothing is more important.

    • Jack April 5, 2013 at 4:26 am

      Hi Carolyn,

      Three perfect daughters for three perfect sons, wasn’t that a movie or something. 😉

      Love is huge because that is where that sense of knowing you have support comes from. Support and love are huge, just critical.

  7. April 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I think I have the perfect daughter and as much as I’d like to take full credit for that, I can’t. I completely agree that boys and girls have a different mindset.

  8. jetts31 April 3, 2013 at 9:33 am

    The first step in parenting is confidence. Confidence knowing that right or wrong, you’re doing the best that you can. I don’t have all the answers, I know I could have done things differently or better than I might have handled them at the time, but I am confident that what I did, I did with the best of intentions and with the love a Dad feels for his kids.
    No book, instructional video, or blog post about “How to Be a Good Parent” can teach you confidence and none need tell you that you’re doing a good job, because you will have already known you were.

    • Jack April 5, 2013 at 4:20 am

      We are in complete agreement about confidence in knowing that you are doing your best. There is no doubt that sometimes we are going to make mistakes. There is no manual or guide that provides a map that you can rely upon for every situation.

      When I think about my childhood, my friends and the world in general I feel pretty good. It is because it proves that children grow up and do ok in a million different situations.

      People are resilient and when we use common sense and do our best to give the kids a foundation of love and support good things usually happen.

  9. Hajra April 3, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I don’t have kids. But I try my best to be a good daughter. I know being perfect is not possible but I try. Recently, when my dad was sick; all four of his children (three daughters, one son) managed to be right there for him. My eldest sister lives in the USA and she came, even if it meant flying for over 18 hours. When all of us were there for him; he said this “Ï know I must have done something right; why else would you all come running like that”. It felt nice.

    Just be there for her. That’s all we daughters really want. And maybe ice cream too.

    • Jack April 5, 2013 at 4:10 am

      Hi Hajra,

      When all four children come to help parents know they did something right. That is a beautiful thing.

      Your comment about ice cream made me laugh, my daughter might say something like that, but she probably would have used chocolate. 😉

  10. Christie April 3, 2013 at 6:06 am

    are you interested in writing a post with your POV as a dad who blogs to a new website that launched a series for Dads? If so, send me an email. There may be money in it. Not sure. You’d be great.

  11. Judy Lee Dunn April 3, 2013 at 6:00 am

    What can we do? As a new parent, I sat by my daughter’s crib as she slept and said, over and over again, “You are smart. You are creative. You will not marry until you are 30.”(That last one is because I had married very young and had to give up some of my dreams.) I thought, heck, if a mom listening to Bach when her child is still in the womb might help her become musically inclined, I can give this hypnotism thing a try. I think that as parents, we try to support our kids in every way possible. But I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

    I also think that society still tries to put girls in a box. For girls, being pretty is still valued more than being smart. I would love to see that change, but it takes a whole society, not just the parents because by the time a kid gets beyond, say, the age of five, she is greatly influenced by the media, her peers and pop culture.

    Oh, and I just had to say: There IS an answer to how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. My friend figured it out when she was 9 and wrote to the company. I don’t remember what her answer was, but they sent her a case of Tootsie Pops. They now get those letters routinely from kids and all they get is a “Clean Stick Award.” A bit of trivia for you on a Wednesday morning. : )

    • Jack April 4, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Judy,

      I talked to my kids in utero and while they are asleep too. I figure it makes sense for the same reason you did. Certainly doesn’t hurt to try.

      It does feel like we place an enormous amount of pressure on girls in so many ways that are different from boys. They get their share of pressure, but it is different. How much of that is my perception and how much is real is hard to quantify.

      But I figure I’ll do my best to work to make things better for my kids and then hope that some of it gets through.

      I like that story about your friend. I never did write or call the Tootsie Pop People. However I did call Quaker Oats to ask them to tell me about the Quaker on the box and they hung up on me.

  12. Christie April 3, 2013 at 3:32 am

    You are a good father. Glad you know it.

  13. Betsy Cross April 3, 2013 at 3:06 am

    What was the question???
    My only insight is, as a father, your most important task (daily) is to tell your daughter how beautiful she is and how much you love her no matter what… that she doesn’t NEED to find boys to tell her…cause she’ll already know. Do that and she’ll navigate the rest of life well. 🙂

  14. Stan Faryna April 3, 2013 at 2:32 am

    “…but I keep hearing Superchicken saying “you know the job was dangerous when you took it.”

    I lolled for real. And loudly.

    I always wanted a daughter, but a daughter wasn’t in my stars.

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