25 Failsafe* Rules For Dads Raising Daughters

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Marcus Williams and Joanna Schroeder

Marcus Williams and Joanna Schroeder and friends and colleagues who live in Southern California. Marcus is a father of twin daughters and plays beer league ice hockey. Joanna is a mother of two sons, Senior Editor of The Good Men Project and co-creator of sex and dating blog She Said He Said


  1. This is an awesome list. I’m a father of two little girls and I’m blown away by just how real these items are. Good news I’m certainly doing some of these. Better news, I’m reminded of some things to keep on my radar going forward.

    #18 is something that I’ve found to be magic in bonding with my oldest. As a new Dad I handled her like she was a hand grenade. I was terrified coming home from the hospital. Diaper changes looked like I was an explosive ordinance technician trying not to cut the wrong wire. As time went on I thankfully eased up on all that madness.

    We have a pre-dinner ritual as a way of reconnecting when I’m done with work where we basically chase each other around the house at crazy reckless abandoned speeds and have wrestling matches on a big bed. It’s flat out awesome! It’s a real anchor of reconnecting with us and is a special way to make a new memory every day because no doubt I won’t always be able to toss her in the air and throw pillows around with her. We both laugh so hard while doing it and whatever ills of that day have a funny way of washing away with her giggles. Roughhousing is good!

    Thanks for this list!

  2. Not a parent, so take this for what it is. But there seems to be an awful lot of indulgence, and not a whole lot of reality checks. “Clothing” and “no means no” (of course, this comes after a long list of things you’re not supposed to say no to her for) seem to be the only things that might teach her she’s not the center of the universe and won’t always get what she wants. This list would give me concerns about raising a spoiled princess (or prince if applied to boys).

    • And yet, many of the things on the list aren’t said to boys, because “boys will be boys” is a common way of raising them. I don’t think there’s any indulgence here, it’s about learning empowerment and tempering it with common sense–something this article does very nicely.

  3. These are wonderful, my little girl has always been into pink, my wife isn’t and it has been interesting watching my wife with my daughter’s style choices, mostly my wife cringes, sometimes she gets into it and buys her the pink dress or top.

    I watch my daughter two days a week while my wife works from home. We have tea parties, though the tea tastes like air. My daughter has my attitude and goofyness which makes for interesting times.

    She asked to meditate with her brother recently which was interesting, but it’s something she sees her brother and the rest of us doing, but she’s only three and wants to be like her brother.

    Wonderful article.

  4. Good article but i would not like if my husband tells her about her genitals or any other man telling his dauhter about her genitals or talk about sex to her. sounds so pedo to me and i will not allow that. the rest is a good write up.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      You won’t allow your husband to talk to your daughter about genitals?

      What if she asks him? He says, “I can’t talk to you about that?” or “Ask your mom?” That is going to teach her same.

      Genitals are just body parts at this age. Unless you think your husband can’t be trusted to talk to her about them, but then you’ve got seriously much bigger problems that him just telling her that it’s called a vagina.

    • What? You will not *allow* your husband to talk to your daughter about sex? There are two major problems here:
      1) you appear to believe you somehow have authority to decide all things child-related, and that you can tell your husband what is “allowed”. As a father and a husband I certainly would not accept that attitude. I’m my partners equal and as much a parent as she is. We may disagree and then we talk to either find common ground or agree to disagree. But anything that start with “I will not allow” would be refused.
      2) you appear to believe that women (mothers) are better placed to talk about sex than men, and that only men can be pedophiles. It’s a terrible view of men and mens sexuality. Talking to your children about sex and about bodyparts is not only perfectly natural, it’s every parents responsibility to do so, in a way that make children comfortable with their own body. If your construct a reality where your kids can talk about these things with only women and actively exclude your husband, you run the risk of giving them an unhealthy view of sexuality. Kids are observant – they will sense right away that there’s something going on there with their father, and that whatever it is is *wrong* and “bad*.

      You may have som bad hangups – it sounds like it. Please do no pass them on to your children.

    • I agree. Its one thing to take to the 3 or 4-year-old girl to the bathroom, but there are ways to deal with , that without having to say “vagina”to your daughter. I don’t know why that seems weird to me, maybe some of us were raised differently. I also don’t really think he needs to be talking to her about sex ed or sexuality…

  5. casualconversationalist says:

    I couldn’t even think of a criticism for this if I tried, it’s become one of my favorite articles I’ve read recently. Well done.

  6. I felt a little smug reading this, as I had done most of them without thinking twice about them — though one can’t be good at everything, I learned, I could support her endeavors when her skill or enthusiasm exceded my own for a particular task or adventure.

    Once my daughter asked if I’d rather have had a son. This was a relevant question since she was adopted and, presumably, there might have been a choice. I told her that she was worth 20 boys to me. Now she is married to a great man and I’m looking forward to being a grandfather in a couple months.

    Where once I thougt being a gay dad was exciting and new, now, being a part of the first generation of gay grandparents finds my amazed that there are, in fact, so many of us.

  7. As a 30 year old father of 2 little girls, the one thing I relearn every day is that I have no clue as to what I am doing. I love articles like this that not only give sound counsel but also gives me comfort that there are folks on the other side of the country in the midst of the same battle

  8. Some great tips here! I wholeheartedly agree with tip 13, (about dressing up like a princess)…although one time I needed to answer the door and I’d forgotten to take off the princess tiara! Thankfully the postie understood. I guess he has daughters too!

  9. #18, the accompanying picture is exactly how my dad ended up dislocating my aunt’s arm when they were kids. At the time, my grandparents weren’t well off and a trip to the doctor was out of the question. The injury caused a deep rift between them for years to come and my grandfather took out a mistake made during innocent play on my dad for decades to come. Seems like the editors of the article could use a little more common sense in picking which photos, is all I’m saying.

    • Melissa says:

      Funny you should say that. My mum had hers dislocated by an uncle, me by my dad and the baby of the family by my other sister. It has actually caused many chronic shoulder and arm problems for u the three of us. Funny how we only made that connection this year. I also always cringe when I see parents doing this. Not a judgement just a wince from memories.

  10. Great advice, even if I don’t agree with them all. Nothing is ever 100% one way and zero the other. I appreciate ANYONE sharing what works for them. As an older father to an 8 year old daughter I find raising her the biggest joy in my life and so far so good.

  11. Tom Brechlin says:

    Better tell Oprah that there is no such thing as a “vajayjay” :)

  12. Very helpful tips for me to be a good father for my daughter, thanks.

  13. Wonderful piece. Thank you.

  14. Fantastic piece that’s good for parents raising girls in general!

  15. roy moreno says:

    i am a 30 year old father of 2 girls (8 &9) whom i am raising singlehandley and no matter where our lives take us i know that my life will always be enveloped in theirs. My younger one is not from my blood but she has my last name and i have been there since the moment she was delivered and is my daughter no matter. I aquired full custody2 years back but have always been an active role in their lives. This is by far my greastest reward in life, but the road we took has not been an easy one. I read these lessons in life and i know they will serve us well!! Thank you for your words of wisdom and thank you to all of the other dads out there who continue to prepare our girls to enter the world as smart women who are capable and self reliant because they had strong fathers:}

  16. Excellent list! Just wish we could amend #23 to read “yes means yes” and touch on the idea of enthusiastic consent. We absolutely should be teaching our daughters (and sons) to have a powerful “no” that they aren’t afraid to you, but we should also be helping them learn that not everyone has the power to say “no,” and that we should be aware and cognizant of body language, silence, and other less clear signals of no. Personally, I’m going to try to teach my daughter to ask, “can I hug you/kiss you?” or at least not assume that everyone is okay with close contact. Hopefully, by starting at a young age, she’ll have a good sense of bodily autonomy AND respect for others’ bodies by the time adolescent sexuality rolls around.

  17. I CANNOT stop laughing at the end of #5!!!
    But I’m also thrilled at the point of that one – people think it’s weird that I taught my girls vulva, even though that’s *precisely* what they’re talking about.

  18. I’m 28, and wish desperately that my dad had read this article, or would even read it now. Too many things were “guy” things and I wasn’t allowed to join in. I’m still not. It breaks my heart to see the kind of relationships my friends have with their dads and knowing that I will never have that. It’s never too late to change, but you have to be willing to change.

  19. I thought you said don’t use scare tactics.. “But you never know if you’re going to end up as that one person who won’t be okay.” THAT is what is called a scare tactic. Teach moderation and teach preliminary research. Send them to Erowid. Teach them to ignore peer pressure and do what they want to do. Show them this chart: http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/10/what-does-science-say-about-the-relative-dangers-of-drugs-alcohol-is-by-far-the-no-1-most-dangerous-drug/ – But don’t compare drugs to Russian Roulette. That’s just stupid.

    • Tom Brechlin says:

      Doop, I agree with you. I would say that at least 98% of the adolescents I’ve worked with, that have used heavier drugs, started by using marijuana. Marijuana in and of itself appears to be harmless. Adolescent and now pre-adolescent kids start with an occasional joint but progress to excessive use.

      When people think of drug use, they don’t think as much about alcohol which in reality kills more kids then all other drugs combined. I say this without even looking at the chart. Honest discussion of harms, nothing wrong with it.

      • Yep. Although the gateway theory has been widely discredited. There are too many confounding factors, and it probably has more to do with marijuana’s illegal status than anything else. Nobody blames alcohol or tobacco for being a gateway drug. Or caffeine, or sugar. Correlation =/= causation. Also I would bet that most of the “heavier” drugs you say they progress to fall at the more harmless end of that chart.

        Even with alcohol, the deaths from it have more to do with the culture surrounding it than the drug itself. Given that your kid is going to drink, teach them how to do it responsibly. Abstinence-only education does not work.

  20. A great foundational list for any father who is committed to be the best he can for his daughter (and son). ~ great reference list to keep us all on track. Thank you.

  21. David Tindell says:

    As to discussing drugs with your daughter, or with your son, how about simply saying, “In my opinion you shouldn’t need an artificial stimulant to get high or smooth out the rough edges or whatever else they’re supposedly good for.”

  22. Nice list. I didn’t read it before raising my daughters. Mostly I just used common sense and sensitivity. It worked.


  1. […] 25 Failsafe* Rules For Dads Raising Daughters – article reference in the show.  […]

Speak Your Mind