With a daughter of my own, there are so many things I hope to teach her. How to be independent (though she needs no help in that arena, already), how to use her voice and how to be confident, to name a few. However, I also know that teaching all of those things isn't just my responsibility. Sometimes, her dad will be able to reach her better than I can. Sometimes, she will listen more to him and follow his example. Sometimes, doing the teaching will simply fall on him. There are many things dads can teach their daughters and while I may feel left out, because she listens to him when he's teaching her the same thing I had tried to or wanted to, I'd rather her learn it from him than not learn it at all.
Moms are a very important part of their daughters lives, don't get me wrong. I don't think that highlighting the importance of one parent, regardless of gender, negates the importance of the other. I'm definitely not suggesting that daughters without fathers suffer in some way, as I know plenty of fatherless women who thrive in all areas of their lives. I just also realize that when two parents are active in a child's life, each parent has something important to offer. I absolutely don't think that there are certain lessons only a dad can teach, because kids with single mothers or two mothers or kids who have tragically lost their fathers early in their lives, can still learn the same values and important lessons that other kids get the opportunity to learn form their own dads. The important, life-shaping lessons we learn are not gender specific.
For my daughter, I'm here to help with certain things and my fiancé is here to help with others. My partner and I have found a "groove," so-to-speak, and are playing to our strengths while simultaneously assisting one another in our weaknesses, so that our daughter constantly benefits. There's some overlap, to be sure, and I know that my partner's gender doesn't make him more qualified to teach my daughter anything that I aim to teach her. I just know that if we teach these lessons, together, our daughter will be better for it.
How Men Should Treat Women
Children learn most from observing, so how a dad interacts with others, especially women, will be a template for what his daughter assumes is appropriate when others, eventually, interact with her. Dads, you will be her example of how a man should treat a woman and, most likely, she will look for a man like you when she is older. How a man treats all the women in and around his life, whether she is his partner or a random woman on the street, will have an impact on his daughter and how she perceives herself, as a woman, in the world.
Men Are Capable Of Understanding Women's Bodies And Experirences
You don't have to be a woman to know, understand and respect women, their bodies and their experiences. Dad can instill this undeniable fact by being just as involved in any reproductive conversations, or "princess playtime" or whatever society has arbitrarily decided is "just for women." He can get tampons when the house needs them. He can put on dresses and makeup for a tea party. He can be an involved parent, and not keep himself from certain activities just because he identifies as a man. I mean, conforming to gender stereotypes and what you believe to be expected by you, from society, is never a valid reason not to spend time and play with and nurture and educate your kid.
A Person's Capabilities Have Nothing To Do With Gender
Obviously, a mother could teach this lesson just as easily as a father. However, working to combat and break down gender stereotypes should be the work of both parents, regardless of gender, and dad can take up this mantel, too. He can throw a ball with his daughter and remind her that, "throwing like a girl," is a freakin' awesome thing. He can look to his partner to do something that he can't, because she has strengths that he doesn't possess. Showing weakness is just as powerful as showing strength, especially when you're a dad and society wants you to perpetuate constant toughness.
Men Suffer From Gender Stereotypes, Too
Feminism is something men need, too, and that lesson can be one that dad can pass down to his daughter. Gender inequality hurts men, too. Gender inequality tells men that they can't be responsible for their actions or their feelings or their emotions. In fact, gender inequality tells men that they shouldn't have emotions at all. Gender inequality paints dads as incapable morons, when any parent knows that they can take care of a kid just as well as a mother can.
Men Are Just As Emotional As Women
Dad can teach his daughter that emotions aren't bad, emotions aren't something to "hide," emotions aren't something to stifle and that they're not meant to be experienced by one specific gender. If something happens that warrants a cry, he won't hesitate. If he is excited, he won't stifle it to appear "tough." The notion that men (and, sadly, even little boys) are either not emotional or shouldn't "act" emotional, is so hurtful.
Men Are Just As Caring And Intuitive About Relationships And Other People's Needs, As Women
The whole "men are so oblivious when it comes to women," narrative is played out, in my humble opinion. Men can be caring and intuitive, just like women. Men are capable of realizing that women are just human beings and, as such, have very normal, human feelings and needs and thoughts. Being compassionate towards women, and cognizant of a woman's needs, isn't rocket science, and a dad is going to remind his daughter that any man can act decent towards and around a woman, by doing so himself.
Men Are Parents, Not Babysitters...
Sadly, and even in 2016, women are still considered to be the primary parent, while dad ids a secondary "helper" of sorts. Yeah, no. Dads aren't babysitters. Dads aren't a "second set of hands" when mom gets tired or needs a "break" or requires some assistance. Dads are capable of parenting. They know, or can learn, how to put on diapers and feed their baby and dress them and put them to bed, just like a mother. Women aren't born with the innate knowledge necessary to take care of children; they learn, just like men, and a dad can teach his daughter that men can care for children just as adequately as women can, by taking care of his daughter the way her mother does.
...And Men Don't Have To Work Outside The Home To Be Fulfilled
Gender stereotypes insist that women stay home and take care of the kids, while men go outside of the house and provide for their family financially. Well, times are changing, folks. Today, 70% of women with children work outside of the home. In fact, many working mothers are the sole breadwinner for their family, which means that more and more dads are staying at home to take care of the kids. There's nothing wrong with this dynamic, if it works for the families that use it, and a dad can show his daughter that the '50s, and it's sexist stereotypes, are over.