Sharing Your Daughter's Passions
Society tends to define young girls by their activities, such as: She is an equestrian, a softball player, or a gymnast. You should make sure your daughter has something positive in her life by which her friends and community can define her. Ask her what her passion is and help her explore it more deeply. Often that passion revolves around a sport she is drawn to. You can use this activity to teach her more self-control and patience.
A study of 140 eighth-grade students, published in 2006 by USA Weekend Magazine, found that self-disciplined kids outperformed their less-disciplined peers not only in their grades but also on their standardized achievement test scores. Self-discipline is best taught by your example.
You model self-discipline by the way you act, and you foster your daughter's self-discipline and control by her involvement in something that demands:
Practicing a skill for a long time, such as playing golf or tennis
Working on a long-range project, such as building a piece of furniture
Investing much of her time and money in something, such as starting a collection
You can also watch what natural athletic talent your daughter may have and build on the passion she feels for the sport. You can coach her, or by following your own passion, guide your girl into rooting for your favorite teams, or get her to imitate your own sports prowess. She may end up loving something you excelled in or take the sport to a whole new level. You should always include both your boys and girls in the sports training you provide and the sports equipment you install in your backyard. In fact, you should make no distinction between how much time you devote to your son's little league games and your daughter's track meets. Also give your daughter more “masculine” presents, such as a baseball mitt or a chemistry set.
You can teach your daughter many valuable life lessons through sports. For example, how not to take tryouts too seriously, how to be a good winner and a good loser, and how to throw herself into a pursuit she loves just for the sake of it. Hobbies can also bind fathers and daughters.
Most of all, share an interest that allows you and your daughter to keep up with each other and with your lives over time. There is always an occasion to talk during a fishing trip — at least during the drive to the lake and back home — or a camping excursion. Traveling together, by bike, boat, car, on foot, or via “arm-chair” can also nurture your father-daughter connection. During those travels, you and your girl will have many chances to solve problems. You can teach your daughter how to create something out of nothing, or how to make the best out of any situation, no matter how bad. One example is calling a flat tire an opportunity for adventure. Documenting your travels and putting them on a CD, rehashing your trips and creating a blog, or videotaping your visits to the zoo or the planetarium will give her many precious memories.
Spending an evening with you gazing at the stars will nurture your girl's sense of awe. As you explain your view of the universe, and your hopes and dreams for her, she will feel free to tell you of her hopes and dreams while developing an allegiance to something greater: humankind's universal striving to be the best. Things worth doing and realizing one's dreams can take a lot of time and work, but each step along the way, you can help your daughter soar.