How Do I Raise My Daughter Right?

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Hi Robin:

Long time listener, first time caller.  Oh wait, perhaps a little early for that comment.  Maybe I’m just being prescient.  God I love that word.  Prescient.

Unfortunately I am not prescient enough to predict how things are going to work out for my two beloved children who are 11 and 8 at the time of this writing.  My youngest, a daughter, is a delightful human being who brightens the day of nearly everyone she encounters.  As a newly single father, I want to keep it this way and offer her the best path forward in life, and most importantly to avoid “Daddy Issues.”

As a successful woman who has lived a colorful life, I welcome your insight into what are some key principles and steps to take to ensure my baby girl matures into a confident, self-assured woman with a strong, healthy and genuine relationship with her father.

Respectfully,

“Keepin her off the pole” in Brooklyn

Dear Pole-itically Correct:

Let’s talk about the most important part of your email first: your premonition that I will soon be on the radio.  As you may know, I will be guesting on 94.3 KNEWS radio on March 26th in Palm Springs.  If you can’t listen live, be sure to catch up via podcast.

I have a very important meeting next week to discuss a possible future on the radio here in Portland and nationally as well, so keep watching this space for updates!  Hopefully I won’t fuck this thing up, because I am getting really close to realizing my dream.

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I’m very flattered by your email because the implication is that I am well-adjusted and without “daddy issues.”  Let’s see: I am vulgar, insecure, impulsive, an attention whore and I married a man almost 20 years older than I am.

You’ve come to the right place!

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I can think of several ways to inoculate your daughter against the Pole-io disease, and in the interests of time I will give you my ideas in bullet point fashion.

  • Never, under ANY circumstances, speak ill of her mom, even if she is the squalid twat you described in our correspondence.
  • Do not make any derogatory comments about your daughter’s appearance, especially her weight.  This can lead to eating disorders that are devastating to the mind and body of your daughter and in purely practical terms, quite expensive.  Therapy (unless you are coming here for it) isn’t cheap, and bulimia can lead to costly dental problems.
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  • Teach her to earn her way.  Whether it’s chores around the house or (obviously when she’s older, this isn’t China) getting an after-school or summer job, teach her the value of hard work.
  • Be an active participant in her life, especially her education.  Identify her strengths and weaknesses and do your damnedest to help her achieve the greatest success she can in school.  Encourage her deeply in all her endeavors.
  • Show up.  Even if it isn’t “your time,” show up for everything when your daughter would expect and want to see you: birthday parties, sporting and school events, etc.  You may only have 50% custody but that doesn’t mean you can’t be there for everything.  You just need to get that restraining order her mom obtained against you dismissed. 🙂
  • Tread lightly when it comes to bringing new women around.  Some men (and women too) parade new “special friends” around their kids way too soon after a divorce and far too early in the new relationship.  What both your kids will take from this is: mom didn’t matter and women are fungible.
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  • Do not put her up on a pedestal.  This can lead to another kind of disaster: creation of a Princess.  More on that in a moment.
  • Be kind, loving and patient with your daughter.  Now is a difficult time for her and I suggest a lot of daddy/daughter time during which you discuss her feelings, and yours, surrounding the divorce and other things that may be going on in her life.
  • Don’t buy her a smart phone.  Dear GodIDon’tBelieveIn I wish I could put that fucking genie back in the bottle.  Believe it or not, girls your daughter’s age are already sending inappropriate texts and photos to boys and learning as a result they are valued first and foremost as sexual objects, not real people.

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(“Dude, check out the tits on this little nub-tease – bitch won’t stop texting me”)

That’s the bullet list, but I am saving the most important advice for last: teach your daughter the vital life lesson that she needs to live her own life and be able to support herself without a man (or woman, if she leans that way).

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Your daughter’s greatest takeaway from your parenting should be that although she is genuinely lovable and worthy of a life partner, she can and should pull her own weight in this world, and she should be capable of being alone.  Breed in your daughter a fierce sense of independence, power and pride, and you will have done a fine job as a father.

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Forgive the polemic (ha!) but I see women all the time who lack these qualities, most often when I visit our golf club in the summer.  They sit by the pool, gossiping about each other and comparing their children’s talents and intelligence.  None of these women have developed anything beyond the confines of the home, and would be left floundering if they divorced.

Except for alimony, of course.  Which is sort of my point: raising a girl to believe she is a princess deserving of prince charming to take care of her will produce an entitlement-minded and spoiled young woman and potential future alimony recipient; something I know you do not want and that the world could certainly use less of these days.

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Strong, self-assured and independent women make better partners and are more likely to have a happy marriage than those who want to be taken care of.*  Raise that wonderful daughter of yours into a woman who can be alone, and she never will be.

If I haven’t answered your question or you’d like more to chew on, I strongly recommend the Book “In Search of Fatherhood,” by Kevin Renner.

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The book explores how to be the best dad you can be, and can be purchased here: In Search of Fatherhood

Gotta run and make things happen.  Keep me posted!

Robin

*opinion, not independently verified via statistics.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Denise Wantland

    OMG!!! LOVE THIS!

  2. Tamsen

    Well said. I would add that when my ex and I met with a therapist to discuss how to co-parent/raise our daughter after our divorce, she told him that, despite all the best intentions of the women’s liberation movement, statistics show that girls need their fathers to actually tell them that they are pretty. Also smart, capable, etc., but yes, they need their fathers to tell they are pretty, strange as that may sound. I think your advice is right on though. THE MOST important thing my mother ever taught me was that she was in an unhappy marriage and couldn’t afford to get out of it, and that I NEEDED to be able to support myself, no matter what.

  3. jeff

    OK, I was never that worried about my daughter ending up on a pole in front of a bunch of leering men, but now that she’s in law school, how do I provide further guidance so she doesn’t end working for James Sokolove or writing a blog?

  4. Liz Wood

    Great stuff! Your honesty makes you credible and your inner compass makes you honest. Robin, just keep following your instincts and you will continue to expand your audience!

Comments are closed.