My husband and I are fortunate enough to be parents to three wild and wooly little girls.
And ever since the night our first daughter came into the world, ever since my husband looked into her tiny newborn face and delicately held her little body, he’s been a natural. He’s been the fixer of boo-boos, the horsey to ride on, the maker of the best cheese-and-carb infused dinners. And the most patient, loving Dad a little girl could ever ask for.
I asked him what kind of advice he would impart to other new and soon-to-be Dads.
Here are a few pearls of wisdom:
Don’t be afraid of wiping.
When you’ve got a chubby little baby girl, you’ll encounter multiple folds and nooks and crannies. They all must come clean. So get in there and wipe thoroughly. And always wipe from front to back to avoid transferring poop. (Seriously. The things you never thought you’d have to consider…)
Get used to using the words vagina, vulva, etc.
If you have more than one girl, you’ll especially need to be comfortable with this one. During the potty-training years, you’re likely going to have to explain the importance of wiping properly. Using vague terms or euphemisms for what they have to wipe just doesn’t go over well. And although you may prefer something as pretty as ‘flower’, studies are showing that kids who use correct terms and are open to talking about their bodies are more likely to talk about something uncomfortable happening to them.
You need to do hair.
Some little girls are cool with you running a brush through their hair quickly. Others want clips and ponytails and elaborate braids (thank you, Elsa and Anna). It really is easier for everyone – and will avoid a lot of tears – if you learn to do it.
Tights and swim class do not mix.
My husband learned this the hard way. Swimming lessons are loads of fun. Trying to get wet, shivery little toddler legs into tights while standing up and not touching the disgusting community pool change room floor? Not so much. Avoid this at all costs.
Wear her as a baby, sing to her, read stories with all the voices.
Show her your sensitive side. When I was pregnant, I remember my husband declaring that he wasn’t going to read books out loud because he felt silly. That lasted about three seconds. One of my favourite memories is hearing him singing nursery rhymes to my daughter through the monitor one night.
Being a girl will mean whatever your daughter wants it to.
Our first daughter loved all things pink and sequiny as a toddler and preschooler. Then she got into toy cars, sports, camping, pirates and dinosaurs. It changes daily. Throw a crown and a wand into the house on any given day and she’s all about being a princess again. Our second absolutely loves dresses and nail polish. And my husband is completely okay with that. He can still relate to her and play with her and enjoy her every minute. So if you think your life is going to be all ‘girly stuff’ – you may find it’s not. Your daughters will determine for themselves what being a girl is to them. And you’ll be as proud as a peacock no matter what.
They’re learning about boys from you.
Kids are little sponges. The things you say, the way you treat their Mom, the way you talk about bodies. They take it all in. Be careful about what you say around them. Your relationship is helping her learn how to create a loving, caring relationship with a male.
“There’s not much that you can’t do with a girl that you could with a boy.”
This is one of my favourite pieces of wisdom from my husband. When he was asked “Don’t you want to try for a boy?” more than he could count, he shut it all down with that one, simple line. And it’s so true. My daughters love to go camping with him. They love running up and down the aisles of Home Depot. They play at the park in the dirt. They wrestle. They’ve gone to hockey games together. They think farting is the height of hilarity. At the same time, my husband has learned to love Disney movies and paint nails and make crafts adorned with glitter and sparkles.
The Dad-and-daughter relationship you’re about to embark on is a special one. You’ve got a little sidekick to share everything with for the rest of your life. Can’t get much better than that!