Being a #GIRLDAD

By: Topher Scott

“I am stronggggg”

“I am beautifulllll”

“I am kinddddd”

“I. Love. Myself.”

This is my 3 year old’s “Special Phrase” that she says with my wife before bed every night.  It’s their little moment together before parting ways for bedtime.  And when I can hear it from the other room…I melt.

When my wife first started doing this with my daughter, my initial thoughts centered around how cute it was.

But then I realized that their special phrase was so much more than that.  It’s not some cheesy expression.  It’s a way for my wife to teach my daughter the values she feels are important for young girls growing up today.

YOU ARE STRONG: Know your worth. Stand up for what you believe in. Control what you can control.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL: On the inside and out. Beauty is in your own uniqueness, everyone is beautiful in their own unique way.

YOU ARE KIND: Treat others as you wish to be treated.

LOVE YOURSELF: In a world that objectifies women and thrives on comparison culture…love the real, unique you.

My wife and I decided early on to be surprised about the sex of our first kid when we first learned she was pregnant.  Something about the magic and anticipation of not knowing was thrilling.

But early on, I had this overwhelming feeling that we were going to have a girl.  Like, 100% feeling.  I’m not sure if other people get those hunches…but it felt like it was meant to be for me.

And when Paige was born…I was over the moon.  Not just because I was right and my wife who thought we were having a boy was wrong (maybe the first and last time that will happen), but also because I had almost mentally prepared myself for the occasion and was excited to be a #girldad.  But as I look back now, the father of two girls, I think about how differently I view that mindset today.

When we welcomed Paige…I immediately felt this overwhelming protective feeling.  Even though my wife and I always talked about treating our kids like “people” instead of “girl” or “boy” I felt some kind of paternal instinct that is reserved for a Dad and his daughter.

The typical “No man will ever be good enough for you,” and “I’ll always be your protector” type stuff.

But as I sit here now, I realize that my daughters don’t need me to be their protector.  They need to be their dad and treat them as equal as any other kid…boy or girl.  I’m glad I’ve learned to change my thinking on this archaic mindset and I have so many strong women to thank for that both near and far.

It’s amazing to see so many women at the forefront of advocating for this kind of change from a macro level.

In our hockey world specifically we see the PWHPA teaming up with the likes of Billie Jean King to fight for respect and equality in our sport.  We see women tearing it up at NHL All Star competitions and PWHPA events filling up arenas on their Dream Gap Tour.  A few years ago we saw Team USA women stand up to the governing body when they weren’t being treated as equals.  It’s super inspiring to watch.

But as I get older I also recognize and appreciate more and more these things on a micro level every day as well.

My mom, sister, wife, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law…all who have a huge influence on my daughters…are all badass independent women who don’t put up with BS from anybody.

All of these women, famous or close by, are framing a better narrative for my daughters to dream big and understand that the world is there for the taking.

As a Dad, all I want is for my daughters to have the opportunity to achieve their dreams if they choose to put the work into it.  And I’m so grateful to all of the amazing female role models they have that are knocking down barriers so all girls can have that opportunity.  Inside and outside of our home…there is no shortage of remarkable women leading the charge for this kind of change.

As I look back now at my innate paternal instincts, I realize that my girls don’t need to be protected.  They need to be held accountable, supported, pushed and loved…like any other kid.  They need to fail and get up and go through hardship to learn.  They need to get out of their comfort zone without crutches and understand what it means to be resilient.

We had Olympic Gold Medalist Nicole Hensley on our podcast this week and she said that in coaching it’s natural for male coaches not to push the girls as hard as the boys.  Maybe it’s that paternal, protector instinct where we don’t want to see them fail or get hurt.

But as we spoke with Nicole she emphasized that if the girls aren’t pushed outside their comfort zone they aren’t going to get better…just like anybody looking to improve.  We always talk about how growth comes from being uncomfortable…so as coaches (and dads) of girls that’s something we need to really grasp as we seek to have a positive influence on their lives.

Being a #girldad, I feel lucky that I’m able to have these conversations with accomplished women to help me be better.  As I grow as a father and maybe one day as the coach of my girls’ hockey teams, it’s awesome to recognize that all the girls want (and deserve) is to be treated like an equal.  Be pushed like an equal. Be coached like an equal.

And be seen as an equal.

The more we as men recognize and follow through with treating young women as such, the more we are putting them in positions to succeed and thrive.  It’s all we can  do as dads, coaches, and mentors…and will lead to even more success, accomplishment, and fulfillment for the young girls we influence in our lives. For all the other #girldads out there, let’s get it done!

1 Response
  1. James

    I am the father of a 13 yo girl, along with 18 and 16 yo boys.

    I have also coached girls on predominantly boy hockey teams and all girls soccer teams.

    The biggest responsibility has been not to be a protector, but to be a supporter. I need to allow my daughter the freedom to make her own mistakes as I allowed her brothers to make their mistakes. And then I need to be there for her and guide her to become the best person that she can be.

    And my experience as a coach has been that while girls are different, the differences aren’t that big.

    Some of the fiercest competitors I’ve coached have been girls.

    One thing I like about coaching girls is that there hasn’t been as much trash talk as with the boys.

    And as far as pushing girls as a coach goes, it’s like coaching boys in that you just need to learn the individuals that you are coaching and how to push each player the way that they need to be pushed.