After spending 2 three day weekend retreats in Pennsylvania and California with dads and their 7-9 year old daughters, my belief in the power of play has been rekindled. And I don’t mean just play, I mean rough and tumble play.
There is research that shows that girls who grow up with dads who play in this way end up having higher levels of confidence and independence. Play time with dad is usually more loud, spontaneous, stimulating, physical, and out-of-the-box than time with mom. It teaches girls to be more creative and curious and improves their ability to learn.
Dads also do more physical and verbal teasing with their daughters, and this kind of bantering improves girl’s abilities to handle feedback and to toughen them up a bit. Girls can be overly sensitive to feedback and criticism from teachers, coaches, and peers, and so they need to be able to take it and give it back. This will prepare them to handle boys and their mischief too.
The best gift dads give to daughters is their presence, not their presents. And especially if their presence involves good old fashioned rough and tumble play. Game on!