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Stop Assuming Dads With Daughters Must Be Disappointed

Mar 1 2016
Having four girls is not a punchline.

When my mom gets asked about our family, she’ll say she has “four grown children.” She omits the fact that all four of those children are daughters.

“I’m just tired of it,” she said. “The dismayed facial expressions, the pity for your dad. I’d rather just not go down that path.”

Fathers of daughters—even one, but especially three, four, or more—know this reaction all too well. Corey Widmer, pastor of Third Church in Richmond, Virginia, is the father to four young girls. He noticed that “90 percent of the time, when I tell people I have four girls, the reaction is negative. If it is positive, it’s usually because they came from a family of all girls.”

We assume, on some level, that having so many daughters must be a disappointment for dads. Ask nearly any of these fathers, though, and it’s far from the truth.

Of course there’s a natural attachment and special intimacy between parents and kids of the same sex: mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. Bonding already doesn’t come as naturally to men—who lack the biology, birth experience, and breastfeeding that naturally attach moms to their offspring—so relating to a child of the opposite sex may be an extra hurdle for dads and daughters.

Still, we’ve taken the worst exaggerated characterization of a father-daughter relationship and accepted it as a laughable norm. Our remarks to dads of daughters communicate that girls are catty and dramatic; that dads can’t share experiences or hobbies with us; and that we should feel bad that none of his kids had been born male. This message, and its discredit for women’s value, should trouble us as people and as Christians, who affirm the equal worth in women and men.

“It comes across in playful stereotypes like girls are higher maintenance, girls take more emotional energy, girls spend more time in the bathroom,” Widmer says. “But deep down, there’s a more nefarious mythology underneath it. That there’s actually something unappealing about having girls and raising girls, and that if you could choose, obviously everyone would choose boys.”

It’s 2016. We know that girls are fully capable of learning and enjoying activities once thought to be exclusively male. For decades, girls have played sports, competed, and excelled in athletics. They hunt, they fish, they drink, they debate. They graduate from college at higher rates than males, lead companies, and even run for president.

Related Topics:Fatherhood; Gender; Parenting
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Stop Assuming Dads With Daughters Must Be Disappointed