Eating Disorders: 10 Tips for Dads of Daughters

Focus on what is really important that my daughter thinks, feels, and does, rather than how she looks. Tips for Dads to understand and respect their daughters body image.1. Listen to girls. I focus on what is really important--what my daughter thinks, believes, feels, dreams and does --rather than how she looks. I have a profound influence on how my daughter views herself. When I value my daughter for her true self, I give her confidence to use her talents in the world.

2. Encourage my daughter's strength and celebrate her savvy. I help her learn to recognize, resist and overcome barriers. I help her develop her strengths to achieve her goals, help other people and help herself. I help her be what Girls Incorporated calls Strong, Smart and Bold!

3. Respect her uniqueness, Urge her to love her body and who she is. I tell and show my daughter that I love her for who she is and see her as a whole person, capable of anything. My daughter is likely to choose a life partner who acts like me and has my values. So, I treat her and those she loves with respect. Remember 1) growing girls need to eat often and healthy; 2) fad dieting doesn't work, and 3) she has her body for what it can do, not how it looks. Advertisers spend billions to convince my daughter she doesn't look "right." I won't buy into it.

4. Get her playing sports and being physically active. Start young to play catch, tag, jump rope, basketball, Frisbee, hockey, soccer, or just take walks.... you name it! I help her learn the great things her body can do. Physically active girls are less likely to get pregnant, drop out of school, or put up with abuse. The most physically active girls have fathers who are active with them!

5. Get involved in my daughter's school. I volunteer, chaperone, read to her class. I ask questions, like: Does her school use media literacy and body image awareness programs? Does it tolerate sexual harassment of boys or girls? Do more boys take advanced math and science classes and if so, why? (California teacher Doug Kirkpatrick's girl students didn't seem interested in science, so he changed his methods and their participation soared!) Are at least half the student leaders girls?

6. Get involved in my daughter's activities. I volunteer to drive, coach, direct a play, teach a class - anything! I demand equality. Texas mortgage officer and volunteer basketball coach Dave Chapman was so appalled by the gym his 9-year-old daughter's team had to use, he fought to open the modern "boy's" gym to the girls' team. He succeeded. Dads make a difference!

7. Help make the world better for girls. This world holds dangers for our daughters. But over-protection doesn't work, and it tells my daughter that I don't trust her! Instead, I work with other parents to demand an end to violence against females, media sexualization of girls, pornography, advertisers making billions feeding on our daughters' insecurities, and all "boys are better than girls" attitudes.

8. Take my daughter to work with me. I participate in April's Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work® Day and make sure my business participates. I show her how I pay bills and manage money. My daughter will have a job and pay rent some day, so I will introduce her to the world of work and finances!

9. Support positive alternative media for girls. Our family watches programs family that portray smart savvy girls. We get healthy girl-edited magazines like New Moon and visit online girl-run "'zines" and websites. I won't just condemn what's bad; I'll also support and use media that support my daughter!

10. Learn from other fathers. Together, we fathers have reams of experience, expertise and encouragement to share  - so let's learn from each other. I use tools like the newsletter Daughters: For Parents of Girls ( I put my influence to work  - for example, Dads and Daughters protests have stopped negative ads. It works when we work together!

next: How Many Children Have Eating Disorders?
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APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2009, January 2). Eating Disorders: 10 Tips for Dads of Daughters, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Last Updated: January 14, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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