by Shannon Serpette / — Being a parent to a girl can be scary, especially if you’re a guy who hasn’t quite managed to figure out the mysterious ways of the female mind.

But by following three simple rules, you can make your daughter stronger and more confident, even if you don’t understand her at all. That will give her two of the most important lifelong tools she’ll need to survive and thrive in this world.

Enroll Her in a Sport at a Young Age

Nothing helps a girl’s confidence more than knowing she’s fit, capable and fierce. Participating in a sport can give her that. Even if she doesn’t appear to be athletically inclined or doesn’t seem to have much interest in working up a sweat, she should try a sport, at least once.

Learning new skills, making friends, testing her limits and being part of a team will all benefit her. Plus, with so many children struggling with obesity in our country, you’ll be sending a message that physical fitness is important.

She may never be Venus Williams and that’s okay. She doesn’t have to be a superstar – all she has to do is work on bettering herself.

But you shouldn’t wait until she is in junior high to sign her up for her first sport. She’ll be behind the curve at that point because many of her classmates will have already been playing those sports for years. If she compares herself to them, she may feel worse about herself, not better.

So get her involved early – you can sign her up for a summer recreation program in your city or find a class at a nearby gym. It will be time and money well spent.

Show Up

The best thing you can do to build up your daughter’s self-esteem and sense of worth is show up. Be there at every event she participates in, cheering her on loudly. You should be her superfan and she should always know it. You being there will send a powerful message – it tells her that she’s worthy of your time. If she knows that now, that belief in her own value will carry over to her future relationships with friends, employers and boyfriends.

It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in the event she’s participating in or not. If you hate dance recitals and feel like you’d rather pour bleach in your eyes than sit through one more performance, don’t spoil it for her. Don’t complain later about how boring it was or pick apart the performances and how they could have been better. Just tell her the truth – that you loved it because you enjoy seeing her try new things and test her limits.

Tell Her She’s Capable of Anything

Every success story begins with a person who has an idea and believes they just might be able to pull it off. It doesn’t matter if the goal is big or small. Whether the challenge is reaching the other side of the monkey bars on the playground or building up a successful company, the concept is the same. You have to think that you can pull it off in order to have any chance of reaching your goal.

That’s where you come in. From an early age, you should encourage your daughter to reach for the stars. Let her know that she’s smart enough to do anything.

When you see her set a goal and then only make a half-hearted attempt to reach it, remind her that if it’s important to her, she needs to go for it with everything she has.

Even more important than telling her she’s capable of anything, though, is showing her. Find a project or goal you two can work on together. Whether it’s running a 5k race together or improving a grade in school, set aside time each day where you two can progress on your project.

By having you there to lead her, she’ll learn to have a great work ethic and a positive, can-do attitude. Plus, it will keep her motivated knowing there’s someone in her corner who’s counting on her to finish.

When she reaches that goal, take her out for a celebratory ice cream cone and find another project you two want to tackle. That will teach her to always keep looking forward and to keep working on becoming a stronger, better version of herself. Remind her that none of us are finished canvases – we’re all a work in progress. It’s up to us what we want that canvas to look like.


Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. When she’s not spending time with her children, she is often pursuing her favorite hobbies – running, metal detecting and kayaking. She can be reached at

Posted by Fathers Incorporated

Fathers Incorporated (FI) is a national, non-profit organization working to build stronger families and communities through the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood. Established in 2004, FI has a unique seat at the national table, working with leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Family Law, and the Responsible Fatherhood Movement. FI works collaboratively with organizations around the country to identify and advocate for social and legislative changes that lead to healthy father involvement with children, regardless of the father’s marital or economic status, or geographic location. From employment and incarceration issues, to child support and domestic violence, FI addresses long-standing problems to achieve long-term results for children, their families, the communities, and nation in which they live.

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