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What The Best Dads Do To Raise Badass Daughters
[What Dads Do to Empower their Daughters]
If my dad hadn't been so supportive, I probably would have never traveled the world solo at nineteen, let alone founded my own company.
There's plenty of discussion on how to get more women to become leaders, entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists, and I believe fathers play a big part in making that happen.
While the community I grew up in molded young girls into future stay-at-home-moms, my dad was teaching me that the world was my oyster. His parenting has undoubtedly shaped me into the fearless female entrepreneur and rapper that I have become.
Dads (and moms), here's what you can do to help your daughters become badasses, no matter what they want to become:
1. Let them know it's okay to be different
In our social media-driven world,it's extremely hard for people to not care about what others think. I'm not got going to lie: my mom and I haven't always loved my dad wearing all camo, calf-high wool green military socks, and a floppy outdoors hat. But I've come to really respect how he is so unapologetically himself, without worrying what others think. It's kind of the ultimate freedom. Entrepreneurs get a lot of praise after they've become successful, but much of their journey is filled with criticism and people doubting or questioning them, especially when they're trying to do something really different that's never been done before. If you're going to survive the endless roller coaster of entrepreneurship, you can't let this get to you.
Even if your daughter doesn't want to be an entrepreneur, she should know that it's totally fine to be different and do things differently--whether that's how she dresses, thinks, or what makes her happy.
2. Teach self-reliance
My dad has never told me, "Don't worry, a [boy/guy/man] can do that for you." He always supported my independence, telling me that I could accomplish anything I wanted with enough hard work and the right strategy.
Since I was four, he encouraged me to think of ways I could make my own money--whether that was picking walnuts for cash, selling fruit, or some other side hustle. Around that time he helped me open my own bank account and taught me how to save and invest my money. By age five, I had already saved more than a hundred dollars and was buying the toys I wanted with my own money.
3. Sharpen their minds like a sword
For as long as I can remember, time in the car with my biologist dad meant solving math, science, or word problems. Asking questions and thinking about why and how things worked was always encouraged. And he would ask me questions to make me think too, whether we were observing animals in nature or how people make decisions.
Empower your daughters to ask "why" and teach them strong critical thinking skills so they can make better decisions for themselves.
4. Always have their backs
I've been a rule-breaker and rebel since kindergarten. Luckily, the world is now a much friendlier place for girls than it was for my mother or grandmothers, but girls still have lots of things up against them. I constantly got in trouble in elementary school for rejecting gender norms and fighting outdated rules and chauvinistic policies. Thankfully, no matter how many times the Principal would call my house, my dad always had my back.
Merely knowing my dad was there for me--even if the most he could give me was his sympathetic ear--meant a lot. This still gives me the strength to keep hustling and persevering on the toughest days.
5. Praise intelligence and work ethic --rather than looks
Instead of focusing on my appearance, my dad gave me praise for solving hard problems, getting good grades, and learning new things. Instead of saying things like, "You're so pretty," I would hear, him say, "You're so smart; you can do anything" or "I'm so proud of you; you're such a hard worker."
While these are simple little things, dads' comments have a huge impact on daughters' sense of self-worth and how they shape their identities and careers.
6. Encourage risk taking
I am a daredevil because of my dad. Whether I was jumping off the roof with a rope swing or traveling around the world solo as a teenager, he encouraged me to be just as fearless as any boy--if not more so.
I was at one of the lowest and most broke points in my life when I started my company. Pretty much everyone thought I was crazy and reckless; most of them told me to "try to go get a job with Google"--but not my dad.
He reminded me that if I didn't do this now, when would I ever do it? And better yet: if you have nothing, what do you really have to lose?
7. Love them even when they fail.
My dad has often been the first person I called when I'm facing a crisis. I always know that I can tell him anything, and that he will listen to my problems without judging me for my mistakes. He always ends these conversations with, "Okay, I wish you the best of luck, but just know I love you no matter what."
And somehow that always makes daunting challenges and failure a little bit less scary.