My daughter and my partner have an amazing relationship. And, because I am a grown-ass, mature woman, I'm obviously not envious. At all. Not even a little bit. Contrary to what others think about father-daughter dates, I find absolutely nothing wrong with some one-on-one time for dads and their little girls. But there are definitely some things dad shouldn't when they're hanging out with their daughters, and those things are very simple and basic. It's easy to forget that, in this country at least, men aren't raised to be nurturers. As a result, many of them don't really know how to be good fathers. Instead, the society we live in raises the majority of men to be borderline toxic and, well, that could be problematic when it comes to family and relationships.
My partner and our daughter go out together all the time. He will take her to random trips to the supermarket, to get his car serviced, and for walks and bike rides in the park. They spend a good amount of time together and I really love their relationship. It's amazing to watch any father and his daughter enjoy each other's company, and watching my partner with our daughter is even more incredible. Since I often work in the evenings, much of the afternoon and night parenting responsibilities are left to my partner, so our daughter is used to him bathing her and putting her to sleep.
When fathers spend time with their daughters, they are teaching their daughters that paternal involvement is typical and not, in fact, odd. Fathers can have a great influence the lives of their daughters, to be sure, but they should not do the following when spending time together:
Don't Comment On Her Appearance Only
Dads can totally tell their daughters how beautiful they are. They are more than welcome to compliment their clothes and hair. But the compliments should not start or end there. There are so many other ways to praise a girl. Dads can, and should, comment on their daughter's strength and creativity, talk about their sense of humor and they wittiness, and remind them that they're strong and smart. Dads can tell their daughter how proud they are of the type of person they are becoming. Compliment your daughter in her entirety, and not just on her appearance.
Don't Just Do Stereotypically "Girl" Activities
Dad should take their daughters anywhere their daughter wants to go, but they should also encourage a wide range of activities. My husband takes our daughter camping, go-kart riding, hiking, and rock climbing. They do an array of activities and typically stay away from anything hyper-feminine. But if a daughter wants to play makeover, the dad should totally say "yes."
Don't Comment On Someone Else's Appearance
When hanging out with their daughters, dads should not make negative or positive comments on someone else's appearance. In fact, regardless of who you're spending time with, you don't need to be commenting on someone else's looks.
I once heard a man tell his daughter that if she wants to look like the other girls at the playground, she'd have to work harder and start playing a sport. I'm sure that kind of talk between parents and children is more commonplace than it should be, so a reminder to cut it out doesn't hurt.
Don't Teach Her To Keep Secrets
Dads, please don't do the whole "just don't tell mom" thing. It's not cute, it was never cute, and it undermines your partner's parental authority. Plus,even jokingly telling your kid to keep a secret from the other parent sets a dangerous precedent of lying and distrust.
Don't Speak Negatively About The Other Parent
I get it, sometimes it's tempting to make a joke and say something like, "Oh, you know how your mother is," and then share that laugh with your kid. But speaking in a negative way about the other parent can really harm the relationship that parent has with their child. Instead, dads should be praising their partners, proudly.
Don't Always Say Yes
I get it, dads want to be cool. They want to be the nice guy, the "whatever you want, honey" kind of parent. But, guess what? Moms can't and shouldn't always be the "bad guy." There needs to be "bad guy" equality. So, when dads hang out with their daughters, the same rules of parenting that are set in the house should still apply. Say "no" when you think you should and stop trying to be the "cool dad."
Don't Take Full Control
Let your daughter take control of your time together. Don't do everything for her, let her plan the day for you. Don't try to monitor her every more and protect her from getting hurt at the playground. Give her as much freedom as you would your son, and avoid treating her like a delicate flower.
Don't Be Toxic
Finally, don't show off your toxic masculinity. Don't tell her what a "real man" does unless you mean to say that a real man cooks and cleans and shows human emotion and respects the people around him. Don't tell her all men are trash and that she isn't allowed to date until she's 40. Instead, teach her about kindness and show her there are positive ways to express emotions.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.