20 Rules for Dads of Daughters (…and Sons)

I have read list like these numerous times before but the one I read over at Life to Her Years was excellent. As a Dad, I got to thinking about all the things I am just expected to know – whether I really know them or not and I realized that there is really no reason why my daughter should not know these things too! So the following is my take on the list. Some of these might seem quite elementary, but nonetheless, can still have a profound impact on our children’s lives- and yes, I know the title says daughters but most of this is applicable to sons as well. The bottom line is, these are things we Dads should want to do with and for our children in hopes that they will grow up to be well rounded men and women – and calling them “rules” just drives home the point about how serious these things are. In no particular order…

1. Teach her how to pump gas.

A skill that clearly the majority of the people at the Costco gas station have yet to master – don’t let her be one of them!

2. Teach her how to shoot a gun.

If done right, developing a healthy fear and respect for a weapon can oddly enough foster a sense of preservation of life and an abhorrence to violence.

3. Practice defensive driving techniques.

“You have to drive for other people” especially in Southern California. Anything that will lessen the risk of an accident is worth it.

4. Art of negotiation.

“Take it or leave it” should become part of her everyday vocabulary. It won’t seem like a good idea from ages 4-18 but will pay dividends when she becomes an adult.

5. Foster spirituality.

Whether YOU are spiritual or not, fostering spirituality will help her overcome a myriad of life experiences where your love and spirituality  will sometimes be the only thing that gets her through.

6. Acting on conscience.

She may know the difference between right and wrong (thanks to you) but does she know what actions to take when confronted with those situations. Teaching her to stand up for herself and others makes her just that much more of a leader.

7. Appreciation for eclectic foods.

A diverse palate can develop into a passion for world cultures and an appreciation of the culinary arts – Iron Chef, here we come!

8. Teach her how to play chess.

Her confidence and ability to strategize will grow in every game you play. And talk about an incredible bonding experience that she will treasure forever.

9. Computer trouble shooting.

Chances are her grasp of technology and its utility vast exceed your own when you were her age. Teaching her the skills to solve even the basic of computing issues will give her the foundation she needs to create her own “genius bar”.

10. Playing golf.

A NY Times article exposes why golf is the top sport amongst business executives and influential people and it turns out that there are a lot of similarities between the sport and being successful. Teach her the value of the sport so she can close those multi-million dollar deals between the 17th and the 18th holes.

11. Appreciation for science.

According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) there are certain socio-economic reason why women do not pursue the sciences in this country. Fostering an appreciation for the sciences will help break that cycle and expose her to a world that statistically she may never know. 

12. Another language.

Studies show that there are tremendous intellectual, as well as cultural benefits when children learn another language. In most modern countries, the population is at least bilingual so when she learns another language, she becomes part of the global community. And no, Dothraki or Elvish do not count even if there are online translators!

13. Proper use of the homophones they’re, there and their.

It is often said that it’s never too late to make a first impression however, that is not always true when it comes to writing . It is possible that WHAT we write can be the first and only impression we get to make on others. The improper use of homophones can lead to undesirable assumptions about her besides just driving me crazy!

14. Penmanship.

Piggybacking off of #13, the art of actually writing down a coherent thought is dwindling – and fast. Whether it is texting, tweeting or putting OMG after every sentence, language in general is suffering. Encourage her to write you notes, create cards or even a short story – help preserve the memory of what is was like to actually have something written down on paper.

15. Appreciation for the oldies.

You listen to the music you had when you were growing up“. Listening to what you define as oldies, although in my opinion it cannot be considered an oldie unless it’s a minimum of 30 years old, can do more than foster an appreciation for music or genres that no longer exist. Oldies invoke memories, and assuming those memories are at least PG-rated, you two can bond – and you might just create a new fan!

16. Differences between a flat head, Phillips screw driver and an Allen wrench.

A simple distinction but one that will enable her to fix almost anything she encounters – and she’ll be a wiz at assembling IKEA furniture!

17. Value of diversity.

It’s sad to say it but, by the time your little one is an adult, she may still be a minority in her profession. She will need to learn how to deal with the pressures that a situation like that can present but, she will also need to know the benefits of diversity and how that makes everyone more productive.

18. Sense of family history.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – Santayana. She is going to find out sooner or later – and she needs to know the good, the bad and the ugly. Understanding her family history is a powerful force and can help her undue cycles of negativity and benefit from the sacrifices of those who blazed a trail for her.

19. A sense of direction.

Not in a philosophical sense but in a spatial sense. With Garmin and navigation systems, we have become all too reliant on that monotone (in my case British accent) voice directing our every turn – making us turn the wrong way into oncoming traffic on a recently built road – or is that just me? Teaching her how to determine  where north, south, east and west are will help ensure that she’ll never need to ask for directions if driving alone and thus making her more resourceful.

20. A true sense of beauty.

It may sound a tad sexist but, amongst all the things we dad’s worry and think about, perhaps one of our biggest challenges and indeed biggest battles, is against the multi-billion dollar makeup and women’s clothing industry. This industry has had years of experience and plenty of influence defining what beauty “should” mean to our daughters. It is up to us Dads to help our daughters understand, that while there is nothing wrong with makeup and clothing, those things do not define who they are – or give them self-worth. It is up to us to instill in our daughters that they are beautiful inside and out – just the way they are!

So there you have it! What would you add to this list? Is there anything you would take issue with? Let me know!

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2 thoughts on “20 Rules for Dads of Daughters (…and Sons)

  1. Good list! I would also add teaching them about opportunity cost and the value of a dollar. Even at an early age, kids totally get the difference between being able to buy 4 tootsie pops vs one bag of m&ms or spending $20 on 4 happy meals when u could buy 40lbs of bananas. Helping them figure out how to best use their resources is an important life skill. This also helps hone their decision-making ability which is equally important.

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