Parenting girls doesn’t always come easily to men. But here are five ways dads can help little girls grow into strong young women.

1. Play with her. Have tea parties. Learn new dance moves. Let her paint your nails. These will all create lifelong memories for you and your daughter.

2. Have “the talk.” Talking about puberty and sex with girls can be hard for dads, but it’s important. Girls whose fathers avoid talking about growing up may think their fathers are uncomfortable. Or the girls may think they shouldn’t talk about it at all, says Catherine Hutter, PhD, a child psychologist with St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

If you’re having a hard time talking about these subjects, Dr. Hutter suggests reading a book about growing up together. Then talk about it.

3. Be a good role model. Set a good example at home so your daughter learns what a healthy relationship looks like.

“Girls learn how to be women by watching their mothers,” Dr. Hutter says. “Girls learn how to be treated in relationships by watching the way their fathers treat their mothers.”

4. Offer praise and lots of love. “Praise your daughter for qualities not always associated with women, like being tough or athletic,” Dr. Hutter says. “Remind her she is strong and independent.”

Need more tips on raising a girl? Call the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Family Resource Center at 314.454.KIDS (5437) and press “5” to have information sent to you.


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