The nurse came out of the labour-room and announced, “It’s a girl” – a champagne-opening moment for you. That’s right! Being a new dad especially to a girl child is like a reward of several unexpressed emotions. And when the nurse places the new-born little princess into your arms, you realise that you’ve started establishing a unique bond with her, without even having an umbilical cord connection with her.
It has been shown that dads respond differently to daughters than they do to sons and tend to be more attentive to their toddler girls’ needs than to their toddler sons’. That’s why it is popularly said that ‘the baby girl has her dad wrapped around her finger’
It is a spontaneous change, but to be the best man in your daughter’s life, it would take time and effort to strengthen your bond with her while she is a still a mewling little baby.
Things you can do to strengthen your bond with her while she is a still a little baby, because it will make her know that you are always there for her.
- Respond to her cries quickly
- Show her your sensitive side by singing to her to sleep or being her favourite story teller.
- Don’t be afraid of wiping her private parts
- Do up the little one’s hair
- Run up the aisles
- Play with her
- Wrestle if you need
Fathering a daughter may make you more aware and more sympathetic to challenges faced by woman and the differences in the traditional gender ideology. This change may even bring about a change in your perception and your behaviour towards all women starting with your daughter and the mother of your child.
You will become a patient listener: With the baby girl in your arms, your oxytocin hormone levels are high. And this intense moment of skin-to-skin contact will make you spend more time interacting with her (in her language) and trying to understand her emotions deeply. However, this moment is not short-lived. As she grows up to become your young teenage daughter, instead of imposing your decisions upon her and scolding her for small mistakes, it is always better to hear her out, understand her and guide her. You have to learn to be a practiced and patient listener. If you listen to her carefully, respect her problems and talk things out, she will always feel comfortable to come back to you with her problems.
You will be careful with words: According to Emma Citron, clinical psychologist from Oxford University, “when a man becomes a father to a girl, he learns much more about what it means to be a woman”.* Moreover, growing up girls look up to their fathers, as how men should behave in their relationships. Therefore, you should always be respectful and careful when you are talking about your wife, sister, or any other woman who may be close to you. If you are in a habit of speaking about them in a disrespectful or sexist manner, you know that your daughter is right there listening to you. Use language that encourages and empowers women. Let your daughter know that you think girls are just as smart, cool and capable as men are. And that you think she’s also good the way she is.
Daughters will look to you for emotional support: As girls grow up, it’s the mother, who often tend to engage into personal conversations with her daughter, showing interest in her interest and offering support and encouragement from time-to-time. In such a setting, dads often take a backseat. That’s because, realistically, there are few things about being a girl that fathers do not completely understand – like getting periods or changing sizes of bra or experiencing harassment. Create a relationship where she will not hesitate to discuss these intricate issues. Try to understand that your girl would expect positive feedback, emotional support and encouragement from you too. Let her know that you are proud of her (actions) and that you have taken her feelings quite seriously. What’s more important is that, when a father whole-heartedly supports her daughter, she will develop a strong self-esteem and a positive self-image.
Be Her Superhero
With your little girl in your arms, you will not have to think twice about the bedtime snuggles or big hugs. As she slowly translates into a young lady, it will not be unusual for you to feel a little ashamed about her changing body, and suddenly your tight hugs might turn into pats on her back or little peck on her cheeks. But all you need to remember is to hold on to your doting father tag by being her best playmate, praising her for her bravery, beauty, intelligence, creativity and sense of humour and spending quality time with her. Let her know you love her and you’ll always have her back till the last day of your life.
These little things would make her boast always about the ultimate superhero that her dad has been for her.