Guidelines and Strategies for Men and Fathers
1. Develop a historical perspective on the politics of the control of women’s bodies.
2. Work toward and speak out for women’s rights: to fair pay, to safety, to respect, and to control of their bodies.
3. Demonstrate a respect for women as they age, in order to work against the cultural glorification of youth and a tightly controlled ideal body type. (Why is it only men should become distinguished as they age, while women become wrinkled and need face lifts?)
4. Learn to and practice nourishing women’s spirits, so they won’t feel an empty hunger for beauty and for unhealthy amounts of food.
5. Educate your children about the existence, the experience, and the ugliness of prejudice and oppression- whether it is directed against people of color or people who are overweight.
6. Devote yourself to raising non-sex-stereotyped children by modeling and living gender quality at home.
7. Demonstrate respect for all people.
8. Remain close to and supportive of your daughters as they experiment and struggle with body image, grooming and cosmetic issues, flirtatiousness and sexuality, etc,
9. Talk to your sons about the way body shape and sexuality (for both boys and girls) are manipulated by the media and the struggle their sisters or girlfriends have in trying to conform or not to conform.
10. Model patience, compassion, tenderness, fallibility, and most importantly, the capacity and desire to listen.
From National Eating Disorders Association, www.NationalEatingDisorders.org
Ten Tips for Dads of Daughters
1. Listen to your daughter
2. Help make the world better for your daughter
3. Encourage your daughter’s strengths and celebrate her savvy
4. Discourage your daughter from dieting
5. Respect how your daughter is truly unique
6. Play with your daughter
7. Get involved in your daughter’s school
8. Get involved in your daughter’s activities
9. Take your daughter to work with you
10. Become a member of Dads and Daughters
1. Listen to your daughter: Focus on what is important, what your daughter thinks, believes, feels, dreams, and does, rather than how she looks. You have a profound influence on how your daughter views herself. When you value your daughter for her true self, you give her confidence to use her talents in the world.
2. Help make the world better for your daughter: The world does hold dangers for your daughters, but over-protection doesn’t work, and it tells your daughter that you don’t trust her and her abilities. You need to work with other parents to demand an end to violence against females, media sexualization of girls, advertisers using anorexic-looking models, pornography, and all “boys are more important that girls” attitudes. Initiatives like Dads and Daugthers campaigns will help you do it.
3. Encourage your daughter’s strengths and celebrate her savvy: Help your daughter learn to recognize, resist, and overcome barriers. Help her develop her strengths to achieve her goals. Help her be what Girls Incorporated calls “Strong, Smart, and Bold!”
4. Discourage your daughter from dieting: Growing girls need to eat healthy and often. Dieting increases the risk of eating disorders. Advertisers spend billions to convince your daughter she doesn’t look “right.” Don’t buy into it.
5. Respect how your daughter is truly unique: See your daughter as a whole person, capable of anything- and make sure she knows that’s how you see her. Your daughter is likely to choose a life partner who acts like you and has your values. Treat her and those she loves with respect. That will help your daughter choose someone who respects and nourishes her long after she’s left your home.
6. Play with your daughter: Play catch, tag, jump rope, basketball, frisbee, hockey, soctter, volleyball, or just take walks… anything you can think of. Help her learn all the great things her body can do. Physically active girls are less likely to get pregnant, drop out of school, or put up with an abusive partner. Studies show that the most physically active girls have fathers who are active with them. Being physically active is with her is a great investment.
7. Get involved in your daughter’s school: Volunteer, chaperone, read to her class. Ask the administration tough questions lie, “Does the school have and use an eating disorder prevention or body image awareness program? Does it tolerate sexual harassment of boys or girls? Do more boys take advanced math and science classes and if sho, why? Are at least half of the student leaders females?”
8. Get involved in your daughter’s activities: Volunteer to drive, coach, direct a play, teach a class- anything! Deman equality. Texas mortgage officer and volunteer basketball coach Dave Chapman was so appalled by the gym his 9-year old daughter’s team had to use, he fought to open the modern day “boys” gym to the girls team. Dads do make a difference!
9. Take your daughter to work with you: Participate in every April’s official Take Your Daughter To Work Day and make sure your business participates. She her how you pay the bills and manage money. Your daughter will have a job someday, so you need to introduce her to the world of work and finances.
10. Become a member of Dads and Daughters: Join other frathers who share your commitment to daughters by becoming a member of (or renewing your membership in) Dads and Daughters. Encourage other fathers to join too. To learn more about the nonprofit Dads and Daughters, please visit www.dadsanddaughters.org.