Dads, daughters and self-esteem

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I have been sitting by the phone but William still hasn’t rung me asking for advice yet. If he did ring, what advice would I give him on how to raise a princess?

To their dads, all little girls are princesses. But even if they are destined for a life of pampered royalty, wise dads need to give their girls resilience and assertiveness. The best defence a girl can take into life is a healthy esteem and so this should be a priority for fathers. This might be a bit of an over-simplification but, in broad brushstrokes, a girl looks to her mum to find out how to be a woman. Her mother is her role model. But she looks to her dad to see what sort of woman she is becoming.

A father’s reaction to a girl powerfully influences the impression she has of herself. That is why it desperately important that dads learn to transmit the messages, “You are intelligent. I trust you to make good decisions. You deserve the best.” If she gets these messages, then they will shape her view of herself. If she fails to hear them, she may doubt these things about herself for the rest of her life, or she may seek to hear words like these from some other male – perhaps some young stud who knows how to say things like this just to get what he wants. Early sexual promiscuity among teenage girls has been strongly linked to a poor relationship with fathers, and maybe this is why.

How do you give your daughter these messages? You could actually try saying it in words. Yes, it is possible. Move your jaw while flapping your tongue and making a noise in your throat, and you will get the hang of it, though I do realise it is very hard to move into this positive complimentary stuff if we have been stuck in gripe or tease mode for a while. Equally important is the way you smile at her – let her see your pride in she will feel proud all her life.

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About Author

John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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