As the father of six sons, I'm far from an expert on raising girls. Some might argue that I'm far from an expert on raising sons, too, but then, some might argue that I'm far from an expert on anything.
Regardless, I'm going to offer my two cents worth on raising girls.
I'm the proud grandpa of four beautiful little girls who call me Pa (and two boys too, but that's another article), so I think I'm qualified to have an opinion.
Things were starting to change when I was a kid, but, unfortunately, even today, many people still raise their daughters as second class citizens. They teach them to put on makeup, cook, dress ladylike, and how to attract a "ma-un" (that's man to those who didn't grow up with Warner Brothers cartoons). I have no problem with that. Nope. What I do have a problem with is that so many parents seem to teach their daughters that they have to be dependent on a man to take care of them. They don't teach them to change a spare tire, check the oil in their car, drive a nail, change the air filter in their furnace, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
The problem I have with that type of child rearing is that it can lead to some girls seeing their value limited to finding a man and, perhaps, making him happy. Girls who believe that can find themselves setting their sights at "finding a man" and finding him quick once they reach a certain age. People who set their sights too quickly sometimes aim low. They marry the first guy who comes along and flashes them a smile. A few years later they find themselves married to a loser with a cute smile.
Here's news for some of you. A girl who is raised to take care of herself and to know that she can live perfectly fine without a man, develops a self confidence that can allow her to be a little more picky about the kind of guy she goes out with. It can give her a perspective into what kind of man makes a good mate and father. And it can give her the attitude that there is no hurry to settle down. She can wait until she finds the right guy.
I may not have raised any daughters, but I have a perfect example of the kind of woman I'm talking about, and she's close enough that I've been able to study her at length.
My wife was raised by parents who valued strength and independence. She grew up on a farm where she was allowed to roam the woods and fields with friends and her horse. She raised orphan calves and pigs, and she learned what their ultimate destination was. In other words, she didn't live a sheltered life, although she was protected from the things she truly should have been protected from. Granted, I'm the one who taught her to change a flat and defend herself as well as a few other things, but I'm sure she would have been just fine if I hadn't come along.
No, she's not a woman who can pass for a man if she puts on the right clothes. She can put on makeup and a nice dress and fit in at any high society event. Now, I know she loves me, and I hope she misses me when I'm gone, but I have total confidence that she'll be perfectly able to function without me.
One of my sons has two daughters. He told me a while back that he wants to outfit them with their own tools and toolboxes, and he wants them in pink. He plans to teach his girls to use their tools too, how to drive a nail and change a tire. His younger daughter is not walking yet, so it remains to be seen where her interests lie, but the older one loves to watch princess movies and play with her vast collection of Barbies, and that's fine with me. She doesn't have to be a grease monkey, but he's going to see to it that she has that option if she wants and that she is not dependent on anyone for either her happiness or sense of well-being.
Hopefully, when the time comes, she'll find a guy who values strength and independence and will share in the jobs required of independent adults, be it changing a tire or changing a diaper.
If not, I hope he at least has a nice smile.