As Dads, Stepdads, Uncles, Grandfathers, etc.—we have a profound influence on our daughters and other girls in our lives. We set the standard for what they expect from boys today and men tomorrow. We can put that influence to work to make their voices heard!!!
Here are a few tips:
Listen to Girls. Focus on what is really important–what your daughters, stepdaughters, and other girls think, believe, feel, dream and do–rather than how they look. Listen closely to what she says and how she says it. Often, that means being quiet and still, and following her lead.
Take Girls Seriously. We have a profound influence on how our daughters view themselves. When we value her true self and take her seriously, we give her confidence to use her voice and her talents in the world.
Encourage Strength and Celebrate Savvy. Help girls learn to recognize, resist and overcome barriers. Genuine support includes helping her develop her strengths to achieve her goals, help other people, and help herself. Strive to help her be Strong, Smart and Bold!
Get Involved in Her School & Activities. Coach, teach, chaperone, carpool, etc. Ask questions and demand equality: Does her school use social justice, media literacy, and body image awareness programs? Does it tolerate racist or sexual harassment of boys or girls? Do more boys take advanced math and science classes and if so, why? Are at least half of student leaders girls? Appalled by the gym his 9-year-old daughter’s team had to use, Texas mortgage officer and volunteer basketball coach Dave Chapman fought to open the modern “boy’s” gym to the girls’ team. He succeeded. You can make a difference!
Work to Make the World Safe & Fair For Girls. This world holds dangers for our daughters, stepdaughters, and other girls. But over-protection doesn’t work, and it tells girls that we don’t trust them! Instead, let’s work with others to demand an end to violence against females, media sexualization of girls, Neanderthal stereotypes of boys, pornography, advertisers making billions feeding on our daughters’ insecurities, and all gender inequity. Use the Young Voices for Justice free ten-page toolkit for parents and teachers put together by awesome girl-powered anti-racist gender justice SPARK Movement, pioneering feminist print magazine and online community made by and for girls New Moon Girls, and the arts-based social justice for kids group Wee The People. It’s full of easy and inexpensive social justice activism you can do with kids under age 13.
Explore the Outside World with Girls. Volunteer with and for girls—everything from marching to mentoring. Talk to your daughter or stepdaughter about your own work, and what drives your passions in the outside world. Participate in April’s Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day and make sure your business does, too. Show her how you manage money. All of these things show her how to use her resources, passion, and power in the world!
Support Positive Alternative Media For Girls. Watch programs that portray smart savvy girls. Bring healthy girl-edited media (like New Moon Girls) into your home. Replace screen time with conversation and activity together. Don’t just condemn what’s bad; support media that support your daughter!
Learn From Other Fathers. Together, we fathers and stepfathers have reams of experience, expertise and encouragement to share – so let’s learn from each other.
Respect Girls and Women. This shows her every day that you love your daughter or stepdaughter for who she is. See her as a whole person, capable of anything. Treat her and those she loves with respect.
© 2017 Joe Kelly. All rights reserved.