Today’s blog is part 2 of the Daddy Girls article that I posted yesterday. For the first part, please go to thedadmanual.com and Click on “Daddy’s Girl”. Many people say that kids are kids. Some specifically say that we should treat all of our children the same. I say, “Yes and no”. I believe that there is a natural “mode” that we are in when dealing with our kids. To this writer, the girl and boy mode are different. There is no less love. However, we must admit that it is different. I think I heard my brothers out there give me an amen.
Boys and girls are developing to be something different. I’m not here to debate over gender issues. I’m here to offer my findings and beliefs in order to be a resource for dads. I will speak conservatively on many issues. If you wish to debate gender issues and another agenda, I’m sure you can find those forums online with ease.
Girls are developing into a different end product than that of a man. Left alone to their own choices there are many behavior differences as well as responses to human interaction. Let me be less clinical. My boys don’t necessarily “want” me mad at them. However, they react to me being upset differently than my daughter, especially when they were young. My boys required a stronger approach when seeking obedience, especially boy number 2. I had to approach my daughter differently. I needed to be more sensitive to my tone, volume, and expression on my face.
One time, I raised my voice to my daughter when she was acting up. When she turned and looked at me, she had crocodile tears. She looked at me like, “you’re my daddy. How could you treat me that way”? I wanted to crawl under a rock. My wife looked at me like “you s.o.b.” That’s right. I was the bad guy. This coming from the woman that could scare the crap out of a young wolverine when she is upset.
I obviously had to have a different game plan. My boys were nothing like that. They had a much thicker emotional skin. I notice similarities with my relatives and friends who have/had girls and boys. The ironic part of this situation was that my daughter was/is a fierce competitor. She was and can be “meaner” than both of the boys. She will take on anyone and anything. She is always ready to fight for what she wants. HOWEVER, daddy is different.
This is nothing new. I’m sure you have heard the story before you haven’t experienced it first hand. So how do you install discipline? How do you teach your values? How do you go about developing this little girl into a self-confident, strong, and smart woman? My suggestion to all the dads out there is to be a rock…an island. It does not budge. I’m not saying to never listen and avoid discussions. I’m not saying to rule with an iron fist. I’m saying that your word must mean something. If you say no…its no. You cannot be swayed by emotions. You don’t have to be loud. You must be solid. This takes some developing. It also takes some ships crashing into shore. However, once established it brings about the confidence that this child will have in you.
Dads that change their minds just because of someone being angry, disagreeing, or they just don’t want to deal with it, may give instant gratification, but does not serve the child well. As a matter of opinion, it means that your word is not worth much or carries little weight. This will hurt you on the bigger issues that they will face later in life. Girls need their dads to be strong and dependable. They need to be able to count on the rock being there. Being easily manipulated does not reinforce your guarantee that you will be there for them. This means lovingly but firmly standing against choices and situations that are not the best for them.
As they grow older and become there own person, there will be some things that will not align with what you think is the perfect plan. This does NOT have to be a contentious situation. They just need to know where the island is. When they know this, it is easier to give more control to them as to how they drive their boat. Self-expression, style, and personality can be a very healthy thing. As a teenager, I never told my daughter how to dress, wear her hair, or how to be respectful. That was done from day one through her early childhood.
Today, she is her own person. She makes her own decisions. It’s not my job to control what she does as an adult. I just need to be the rock. She still turns to me for advice, but I need her to drive her boat. I need her to continue to grow strong. I do this by being there and loving her unconditionally. I want to be the best dad possible.