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Real Dad Power: Raising Gender Fair and All-Around Good Kids

June 18, 2010 – 6:49 AM

By Katie Culver

O.K. Dad’s, what can you do to insure that you are raising strong, fair-minded children? I just recently re-read the book “Raising Boys” and it occurred to me just how important a father is in raising children—NOT that I didn’t think Dads were important before. But it absolutely reinforced the critical role you fulfill in shaping the development of your kids. Here are some things to keep in mind as you raise your “mini-me’s”:

1.      Spend time ENGAGING with your kids; don’t just watch TV with them or watch them play. Talk to your sons and daughters; ask questions; demonstrate interest in them (and stop checking your Blackberry!).

2.      Regarding the preceding suggestion, it is especially important to show interest in your daughters. The engagement and interaction you demonstrate will make her feel valued and build her confidence. Furthermore, your relationship with your daughter will serve as an example; it will establish standards by which she will measure her future male relationships. Now that’s important!

3.       As for your sons (and of course daughters too): allow them to develop an emotional side. Don’t ever diminish their feelings or constantly insist they be tough. There is a time for both girls and boys to be encouraged to be “tough.” However, learning to express and communicate feelings is vital to emotional health and can be particularly difficult for boys.

4.       Play sports with your daughters as well as your sons! Girls need to develop athletic skills early. Your encouragement will send the message that sport are important for girls, too.

5.      Take both daughters and sons to see women’s sporting events. I can’t help but mention this again. Attending sporting events is a fun way to spend time with Dad. Broadening the gender lines lets your biggest fans know that women’s sports are important enough for you to watch!

6.        Avoid perpetuating stereotypes. Girls do not have to be dainty and delicate; they might not like to be called “Princess” (you do want them to be the hero of their own story, right?) And boys can play dress-up or in the kitchen and cuddle.

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