Parenthood has changed a lot in the last 20 years. Before the early aughts, moms and dads didn’t have to worry about the effect that 24/7 touch screens had on their children, and whether or not all that screen time is damaging their vision. Fast forward to today, and not only are parents having to pry their children from their phones and tablets, but also Silicon Valley parents are increasingly asking their children’s babysitters to sign contracts banning them from using their phones on the job.
Technology isn’t the only thing shaping how we parent. Our understanding and approach to gender is shifting, as well.
Back in the day, it would have been considered normal to buy a doll for your little girl and a set of action figures for your boy. Today, it’s increasingly looking like a parenting faux pas to “box” your children into certain expectations based on their gender, and some parents are even refusing to assign a gender to their child until they come up with one for themselves.
Against the backdrop of all of these changes—and in light of the ever-shifting landscape of parenting in the modern era—one recent post on Reddit has gone viral. One user simply asked women to name “something you wish your father knew about girls when you were growing up.” And the outpouring of responses—many of which we’ve included below—provide some great advice to any father looking to do right by his daughter in today’s world. So read on, be moved—and for more great advice on daddyhood, see these 15 Chores Every Dad Should Have to Do.
Girls Can Like to Play With Trains
“I liked trains. He apparently was really sad when my gender was revealed and I was a girl. He wanted a boy to play trains with and I was the last kid they were going to have. Youngest of three girls. I liked trains. My mom would buy toy trains and train movies for me to play with, and I would play with them for hours, but my dad never saw me playing with them because when he got home from work, all I wanted to do was play with my dad, and he didn’t typically use toys to play with me. He would just teach me cool stuff, or tell me jokes and stories. He played using his voice. If I had known he wanted to play with trains, we would’ve had a blast.”—Avbitten.
How You Treat Women Will Affect How She Expects to Be Treated
“The way you treat your wife or girlfriend can teach how I’m supposed to expect men to treat me,” one user wrote, to which another responded with this stellar comment: “This is why I have changed tactics with my youngest daughter. Instead of being the father that cleaned his gun, or sharpened his knife when the boyfriend came over, I decided that the best way to help my daughter make smarter decisions about boys is to treat her mother with love and respect. Sure, my wife annoys me at times, but I don’t lash out or insult her [and] I have never raised a hand towards her in anger. I raise my voice, but that’s more because I am going deaf and don’t realize that I am raising my voice…We need to teach our daughters how men should be treating women. Not making threats against guys that want to date them. It doesn’t look good for us as fathers and teaches them that violence is an acceptable path.”
Don’t Worry too Much About Embarrassing Them
“My dad was a high school teacher that taught at a really good school. As a teen, I wanted to attend the school my dad taught at but he and my mother insisted I attended a different one that was apparently ‘of a better standard.’ It wasn’t until years later my mother admitted to me that the reason I was put in a different school was because my dad didn’t want me to get teased by other students about him or feel embarrassed by him. I wish my dad knew he could never embarrass me. Love you daddy. R.I.P.”—EsotericGardenia.
Don’t Make Them Feel Ashamed of Their Bodies
“Accept the fact that your daughter will eventually need OBGYN visits [and] birth control, and will participate in dating and sex at some point. You don’t have to be happy about it but please don’t shame me or make me feel ashamed that I enjoy being human. I have to leave the room or wait for dad to leave in order to call my OBGYN office and I’m 23 years old”—nosiriamadreamer.
“My father just avoided the topic, and let my mother do the heavy lifting,” another user responded. “On the flip side, I have a friend who lost her mother when she was 10… She loves telling the story about how she started her period at 11, and accidentally woke her dad up in the middle of the night when it happened. Poor guy was just as lost as she was, but he got in the car and went to a 24 hour pharmacy and bought like every product he thought would be helpful that he could find. She was an emotional mess when he got back (she just wanted her mom) so he then went to the neighbor’s house and woke her up at three am (she was a nurse) and begged her to come over and help. The neighbor sat with my friend for hours, comforting her and giving her information, and then helped her dad with information as well. From that point on he never got weird about it, helped set up appointments with the gynecologist, even took her to get birth control when she was a little older. Now that’s an awesome dad.”
Learn About Hair Care
“When I was little, I remember crying every morning before school because my dad would just take the brush and practically rip my scalp off. All he would say was ‘Sorry I don’t know how to do girl hair,'”—alienflavoredslurpee.
Also, the most upvoted comment on the entire thread was, “Not to use plain rubber bands as hair ties.” It hurts!
“It doesn’t make you look weak to show affection once in a while. My dad hardly ever hugged us or said he loved us,” one user lamented. And if you’re just not a touchy-feely kind of guy, there are other ways to show your daughter you care.
“My dad was a little like this and then one day I realized that although he rarely said it, he wrote it to me a lot. In every book he’s ever given me, [he included a note of] what I needed to do while my parents were out…He once asked me if he had told me ‘I love you’ enough when I was growing up. When I told him, ‘No, but you sure made sure I knew it,’ he cried. He never realized that he’d written it so much. I still have most of the books,” one user wrote.
And for more stories that will warm your heart, check out this Viral Twitter Thread That Reveals the Heartwarming Little Quirks People Adore in Their Loved Ones.
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