Thursday, November 19, 2015

What To Teach Your Daughters

For those of you new to the blog, I started a category called Dads with Daughters. My initial intent was to share a little information with other dads outs there who may be wondering what it's like to raise a daughter. Raising a son may seem more natural since us dads were also little boys at one time, but raising a daughter isn't too terribly different. I guess I can't technically speak with authority on that since I only have let's just call it a justifiable assumption.

On this post, I am going to break away from the unique skills dads with daughters pick up, like braiding hair or playing with Barbies, and take a look at a few things that are "gender neutral." Without further ado, here are a few of my favorite activities my daughters and I enjoy:

Tree Climbing
This past weekend while my girls and I were sitting around the house trying to be lazy (another thing I taught them), my wife said we should go outside and do something. Since we were being lazy, nothing exciting sprang to mind. Then she said, "Go outside and climb a tree or something." Well, being a former tree man myself, my ears perked did the girls'.

Withing a few minutes, the girls and I were out in the back yard ready to climb. In our current society of bike helmets and car seats, I didn't want to risk letting the neighbors see my girls free climbing our trees like I did as a kid. Fortunately, I remembered how to tie a Swiss saddle from my adventures at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in my younger years. That's good since my climbing saddle is way to big for them. Needless to say, they had a blast and were even asking to climb a tree again the very next day.

The takeaway from this is that is was great daddy-daughter bonding. We got some fresh air and exercise. They both built up a little more trust in their old man since I had them on belay the whole time. (We'll work on climbing knots and climbing next time.) No matter what they learned from it, we all had fun.

I guess I should come up with another name for this, but we just started calling it fighting and it stuck. Between my years in various forms of martial arts and my Marine Corps training, I have a number of things I plan to teach my girls over the years. Teaching my older daughter Ziva to punch was actually to get her to stop hitting others. She went through a brief stage where she used hitting to express her anger, disagreement or even boredom.

I sat her down and said I was going to give her an opportunity to punch whenever she wanted to, but there were ground rules. She could only hit me. It would only happen when we had a planned "training session." She would always wear the appropriate training gear. She got so good so fast (and started punching so hard) that she got a pair of pink boxing gloves for Christmas that year.

The takeaway on this is fun, exercise and self control. As a dad, I can honestly say I love that she enjoys it because it will be that much easier to transition her into martial arts and self defense in the future. The better she know how to protect herself, the less time I'll have to spend cleaning a shotgun on the front porch when she starts dating in 30 or 40 years.

[Sidenote: For those of you wanting to train your kids how to punch, I strongly suggest you always remain in a kneeling position. A solid back punch always feels better to the face than the groin.]

I have loved fishing since I was a young boy. For some reason, fishing was always a guy thing for me. Not that there aren't a ton of women out there who would out-fish me any day of the week...I just happened to have always gone fishing with the guys. I was thrilled to introduce fishing to my wife about 10 years ago. I thought it was a long shot, but she ended up loving it. (She's also one of those women who will out-fish me every time.)

A couple of years ago, I got to introduce my love of fishing to my girls. Ziva wasn't too thrilled with the idea, but my younger daughter Siri absolutely loved it. It probably didn't hurt that she landed a 4 pound Largemouth Bass on her fourth cast. (Since my wife will probably point this out in the comments section, I'll get it out of the way now: I helped Siri with the first three casts that produced nothing. Sarah helped her with the fourth and landed the Bass.)

The takeaway on this is that my girls aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and I'm more likely to get out fishing more often...something I haven't done with any regularity in years lately. I suppose it will also help should they find themselves lost in the wilderness and have to fish a river to survive. (Note to self: Teach the girls survival skills too.)

Writing a blog is about as gender neutral as you can get. I pretty much just put this in here because both my girls (and my wife for that matter) enjoy blogging. Their idea of writing a blog may be a little different than mine, but it's fun to see we have a common interest. Truth be told, their blogs would probably get more subscribers than I'm not going to publish them anytime soon.

Of all the things I teach my daughters, one of the most important things I can teach them is respect. Those of you with kids know that kids magically overhear EVERYTHING. They hear you when you argue. They hear you when you step on a lego in the kitchen and blurt out a word you probably shouldn't. They most certainly hear you when you're talking about some big surprise that might happen the next day.

The takeaway (or maybe I should say giveaway??) is that a real dad will teach his daughters about respect. They see the way you treat your wife (their mother) and it teaches them, good or bad, how a woman is supposed to be treated. Show them how you love and respect your wife by the way you treat her. (Preferably even when the kids aren't in earshot.) This will teach them to find a man of their own, in 30-40 years, that treats them with respect. If they happen to guess wrong once or twice, make sure you've also been training them mixed martial arts from the time they're four years old....just in case. Until next time....