When men become fathers, they usually know they’re going to play a big role in shaping a child’s personality. What dads may not anticipate, though, is how their kids — especially daughters — will change them. I have learnt that having girls puts a guy in touch with his feminine side in a big way. Men like me who have daughters, are much more likely to let go of gendered expectations.
I did not know that one day I would love going to a hair salon or even dream of owning one. That I would get into a shop and not look at boys wear but straight at girls dresses. To appreciate manicure, pedicure and know more than 10 different hair styles for girls. But then came the lovely daughters of Bhebe and being surrounded by them and their mother, I have had no choice but to discover the feminist in me. I am not telling anyone how to be a man. I’m telling a father to a daughter or daughters how to be an example to your daughter/s.
Being a father to lovely girls gave me a lot of opinions on what it means to be a man. Being a man isn’t anger, it’s not yelling, it’s not violence, it’s not fighting, it’s not impatience, it’s not acting before thinking. Being a man is making right decisions, it’s doing the right thing, it’s treating people well despite how they treat you, it’s fully assessing a situation, it’s understanding through perception, it’s remaining calm, and it’s doing all these things in the face of adversity. I’m not perfect; I make mistakes. But I do my best to be a good man, because my daughters need that. They must know what a good man is, so that in what will feel like a few short years, when boys are falling over themselves to talk to them, they will know what is good in a man.
I have come to learn that there is a difference in girls and women, between those who have had loving, healthy relationships with their Daddies, and those who, unfortunately, haven’t. I spent a lot of time with my girls, reading, playing, talking, teaching, ridding bicycles, shopping, doing homework… everything. My prayer is that when these girls grow up they will be happy and successful, and full of confidence. I will look back and know I did at least one thing right – love them as I do.
Men are utterly necessary to a daughter’s development. Forget the bravado you hear about women not needing a man to raise a child. A man is a daughter’s first love, and the first man to approve of her “just because”. Do it right, and you will be the at the top of the list of people she will never want to disappoint or embarrass. You are the standard by which all other men in her life will be measured. Set the bar high. Love her “just because”. Protect her at any cost. Treat her mother right, regardless of whether she does all things the way you want or not, whether you are in love with her or not. The way you treat the other women in your life influences how your daughter will expect to be treated later. Hug your daughter often. SAY the words “I love you” whenever you see her.
I think that one of the gifts of having a daughters is that men learn that a woman can be many things and have many facets. Some wise one said, “Nothing turns a man into a feminist faster than having a daughter.” Very, very true.