12 Mistakes Dads Make With Their Daughters (And How to Fix Them)

Being a dad is joyful torture in some ways. While you get the reward of watching your kids grow up, you also feel their pain each step of the way. Some dads may inadvertently add to that pain, especially when they’re responsible for helping daughters maintain their reputations. Dads don’t always get it right, so what mistakes are we making with our girls?

1. Turning off the Hug Tap

Father and Daughter
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When a daughter passes through puberty, some fathers take this as a cue to be less physically affectionate with their daughters. However, most girls will attest that a loving embrace from their dad, whatever their age, never loses its importance. Although girls may not show the same level of intimacy as before, they always need their dad to cuddle.

2. Not Being There

young family with a sad little boy hugging a teddy bear, and his parents with depressed looks
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There are a lot of sad stories of fathers who were never there, even when they were. Memories of dad being on his computer, phone, or watching a game instead of playing are all some kids have left. Sadly, Woody Allen’s adage that 80% of success is showing up isn’t always true. Moreover, any advice about fatherhood from Woody Allen needs an asterisk.

3. Losing His Temper

Frustrated Dad
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Some fathers bring their childhood trauma into their adult lives, which makes raising a child almost disastrous. Tragic instances of paternal soft abuse could include getting angry with their daughters without communicating why, being physically violent or impatient with household objects, or competing with them to get the last word.

4. Sticking Too Resolutely to Gender Norms

Fisherman's Water: Daughter
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While there are many controversies surrounding the extremes of gender identity, some girls don’t want their fathers to be too binary. Some fathers shun spending time with their daughters because they have less in common with them than they do with a son. Unfortunately, this dichotomy can be even worse when they choose the opposite tack with her brother.

5. Not Making an Effort

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If we go with the 80% success for showing up, what happens with the remaining duty? Many daughters reward their fathers for just trying, even if it means getting it wrong half the time. Making time to talk shows you care, even if they don’t want to. Even in your daughter’s darkest hours, making gestures to signal your love for them is imperative.

6. Not Caring Who Their Daughters Are

No Kids Allowed
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I cannot imagine knowing anything about my children’s lives or their favorite movies, foods, or music. Some dads couldn’t even tell you what degree their daughter studies or even the name of their best friend. There are countless online videos of girls asking their dads simple questions, getting a blank response.

7. Forgetting Birthdays

Kids Birthday Party
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There is little excuse for not remembering your daughter’s birthday, but this still happens to dads who lose focus. Let’s not be too hard on all dads, though — many struggle between feeding their families and remembering everything. However, even the most forgetful father will only do it once, using their transgression as a future reminder of what is important.

8. Mocking Daughters’ Mood Swings

Stressed couples with kids playing
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One thing some fathers get completely wrong is not respecting their little girls’ transition to being grownups. Sometimes, little girls have big girls’ feelings, which can be even more difficult to navigate when their dad still sees them as that little girl.

9. Letting Money Take Over

man with empty wallet no money
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Some career-minded dads believe money is the solution to everything, which is a sad reality for many kids. Trying to buy off your children to keep them on your side may have a profound effect on their psyche as they age. Money cannot lift a child when they feel worthless, and cash will not wipe away tears after bullying. Men who wave dollars at emotional problems are making a huge mistake.

10. Being Misogynistic or Chauvinistic

Portrait of sneaky sly scheming man with beard wearing sweatshirt rubbing palm as having cunning evil idea, devious plan in mind, thinking revenge.
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Depending on context, the fatherly message an impressionable young lady receives can be life-affirming or damaging. Any father who belittles women, regardless of their actions or relationship, is teaching their daughter it’s acceptable. Even if you show your daughter kindness and affection, how she sees you treat other women will stay with her for life.

11. Not Reading the Room

Upset middle-aged couple is arguing at home, frustrated blonde woman covered face with palms and crying, sadness grey-haired mature man on background. Spouses have difficulties, relationship crisis
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There are moments when rough play or teasing is appropriate, and most fathers can tell when their daughter is in the right frame of mind for that. Sometimes, tickling, using nicknames, or discussing inopportune topics may seem fun to a father, but daughters need the most important man in their lives to respect their space.

12. Being Overprotective

Mature man abusing his depressed wife, shouting, humiliating and threatening her, middle aged woman crying on floor at home
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There isn’t a father anywhere who wants to see their daughter hurt, so being suspicious of any boyfriends she brings home may seem normal. However, distrusting all her male partners will only undermine girls’ trust in their fathers, which might drive an even bigger wedge between them. Showing a daughter how a woman should be treated is the best way to keep her out of bad relationships.

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