Dads often serve as the first male role models for their daughters, shaping a girl’s worldview of how men interact with those around them, how they process (or don’t process) their emotional selves, and how they show what they truly value. The things fathers do with their daughters are important, of course, but what’s arguably just as important are the things they say. We asked around and gathered 13 things every daughter should hear from her dad. Keep reading to see them all.

1. You can grow up to be anything you want to be.
Despite all of the progress that has been made in breaking down social and economic barriers for women around the world, studies show that gender roles persist and continue to be established at a very early age for both girls and boys. Fathers can help to combat the straitjacketing effect of gender roles on girls by reminding our daughters that they can grow up to become whatever they set their minds on, even President of the United States.

2. It's okay to ask for help.
Studies have shown that most men don't want to or don't know how to ask for help because they've been taught it's a sign of weakness to need assistance. But, if you show that you aren't afraid to reach out for advice, knowledge or guidance, you'll be able to teach your daughter how to do the same.

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photo: Kipp Jarecke-Cheng

3. Your mother/father is my best friend.
Modeling a strong and positive relationship with your spouse directly affects the kinds of relationships that children pursue with their friends and peers now as well as later in life. Daughters with fathers who respect and cherish their spouses will mirror that behavior in the relationships that they have in their childhood and beyond.

4. Do what makes you happy.
Your daughter will see you go to work every day, follow your hobbies and passions. It's important that she knows life isn't just about how much money you make or how many winning teams you're on, but if you're happy while it's happening.

photo: iStock

5. I'm here for you, always.
Kids need to know that they can count on you, even when they're teenagers. You want your daughter to ask you about boys and other grown-up stuff because you've been there.

6. I’m sad.
Don’t be afraid to let your daughter know when you’re feeling down. Studies have shown a direct correlation between a parent’s ability to express emotion and a child’s social competence. A parent’s expression of positive emotion toward his child is generally associated with better social development for the child. Conversely, a parent’s negative emotional expression and poor social development can adversely impact the emotional and social development of a child.

7. Let me tell you a secret.
Share a secret with your daughter. She’ll appreciate your candor and vulnerability. And maybe she’ll share a secret of her own with you.

8. Let’s play football.
As adults, we sometimes forget that play is an essential part of childhood. For dads, we can sometimes feel more comfortable rough-housing with our sons, but our daughters want to get in on the action, too. For fathers of daughters, there’s no reason why we can’t toss a football with our daughters.

9. Do you want ice cream for dinner?
Sometimes having ice cream for dinner is the right answer to any question.

10. What do you think?
When you ask your daughter for advice, you show that her opinion matters and that you respect her. Plus, you might be surprised by her answers and be able to look at a problem with a fresh perspective. 

11. I’m so grateful that I get to be your dad.
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to forget to express gratitude. Letting our daughters know how lucky and proud we are to be their dad can remind them that we are there for them and that we don’t take our role for granted.

12. What do you want to do?
Ask your daughter what she wants to do on a father-daughter date. There are plenty of ideas to choose from

13. I love you.
Tell your daughter that you love her every day. Tell her multiple times a day. Tell her even when she thinks it’s corny. Tell her because you do.

 

— Kipp Jarecke-Cheng

 

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