Raising a Daughter from a Dad’s Point of View

Raising a child is likely the hardest job you will ever do. Parental responsibility is paramount.

Copyright © All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission; Author’s Google profile; Posted June 02, 2011

Father and daughter enjoying good times; photo courtesy Charlotte Smith


Life has a knack for unfolding in its own way, no matter what ambitions or plans we may harbor. That is certainly the way it’s worked out for me. At least it hasn’t been boring. We didn’t have our daughter until we were in our early 40s.

In America, having kids when you’re older has been an escalating trend for the past decade or so. For the most part it has to do with changing cultural norms; with us, it was just the way it worked out. And I think that was a good thing.

Why? Older parents tend to be more mature, more financially stable, and for the most part, have gotten all that craziness out of their systems.

For a dad, at least in my case, raising a daughter is an evolving challenge and mystery. It’s no secret that we don't understand women to begin with; a young one is even more confusing. But I’ve got to admit, that’s part of the fun.

Teach Her the Basics

When she was young I had her doing things that would make most moms cringe, but I felt it was important. Society may be more “gender-equal” in theory than it was, say, in the 60s, but a lot of that is just window dressing in some cases. For example, car mechanics still routinely take advantage of women where they would never risk scamming a man.

So when I did a brake job on my old Chevy step-side truck, she watched while I explained. Changing the radiator and thermostat? Same thing. I don’t expect her to do any of these jobs herself (not that you can with new cars anyway), but I want her to not be taken in when a mechanic wants to sell her a set of muffler bearings for $500.

At age six, she was doing target practice with a BB gun pistol. Yes, under very close supervision. I fully expect her to take out a conceal carry permit when she gets old enough. Hey, this is Texas where the second amendment is still honored. And as the police officer explained to us at the DARE camp graduation, it’s expected of citizens. Police can’t be there to protect you; they are the first responders at best.

She was involved in my wood shop too. Although she learned to make ball point pen bodies on the lathe, she found the most joy in pounding nails into scrap pieces of 2” X 4”s. Home remodeling? She learned to tape and float drywall and paint like a pro.

Protect Her, but not to the Point of Suppressing Her Spirit

Dads will usually be a bit more careful with a daughter during the first six years or so than with a son because, well, the perception is that she’s more fragile. The reality? Humbug. They are equally sturdy. So I let her take a lot more risks at the playground, more so than my wife did, but probably less than if she were a boy.

When she begged me to go down the slide with her or navigate the monkey bars, I always obliged. The younger parents sitting on the benches looked at me like I was a nut-case, but that’s another benefit of being older; I long ago lost the need to look “cool”. Besides, I felt that I was making a connection that would pay off later.

Now that she’s a teenager, you can guess where the focus of protection has shifted. That’s right; boys. It doesn’t help that she’s the prettiest girl in her social circle (no, really!), but she’s also quite the social butterfly and a natural group leader. That part I like; she will be self-reliant.

Pick Your Battles Carefully, Dad

A grouchy child is a thing to contend with; photo courtesy Kelly Smith A headstrong child will always push the envelope and test your patience on a regular basis. I suspect this is more true of an only child. The trick is to step back, take perspective, and choose your battles. It’s not easy and I don’t always get it right. I’m a work in progress myself.

The biggest battle we have on a daily basis is fast food. Since I work from home, flexibility is my middle name and my Toyota Tundra functions as school bus, volleyball shuttle craft, and violin lesson transport, so we stay fairly mobile. She always finds an opportunity to ask for fast food.

My two main objections are low nutritional value and the high cost per serving. But, there are times when I relent. I try to limit it to rewards and times when it really is the only viable alternative.

And the Adventure Continues...

This has been my daughter-raising adventure thus far. There is still a long unexplored road ahead of us, full of bumps and potholes I’m sure, and I’m looking forward to it. Going back to being an older father, I have a different perspective from some of my younger friends.

Their attitude is more of cutting their life into two sections, raising the kids first, and then having plenty of time for fun once they’re out on their own. I had most of my non-kid fun before she was born. Now, I realize that the most important job I’ll ever have is crafting a responsible, self-reliant person. And that’s enough life satisfaction for me.

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