9 Strategies for Dads to Raise Confident Girls

A father's involvement can make or break a daughter‘s confidence as she gets older.

Tim Schwartz
Family Matters
6 min readMar 26, 2021


Photo by Alex Guillaume on Unsplash

I’ve spent the last seventeen years raising two daughters and it’s truly been a labor of love. Although there were times when I had my doubts about the choices I was making for my children, I kept the faith and stayed the course.

Parenting with intentionality inevitably comes with moments where you question the strategies you’ve invested in. This is a natural response and makes total sense when you think about it because we can’t see into the future to know whether a given strategy will have the outcome we desire with our children.

One of the true joys of parenting comes from watching your children become the adults we hoped they would be. In the past few years, I have started to see a return on investments I made in certain parenting strategies early on. One of my goals in raising my daughters was to set them up to be confident women who wouldn’t take shit from men and could take care of themselves both personally and professionally.

I was fortunate to have worked at the elementary and middle school that they both attended. This experience gave me a unique window into their development but more importantly, it also gave me a window into the relationships they had with their peers and the relationships their peers had with their parents.

Although there were early indicators of success, it wasn’t until one of their Middle School teachers, a colleague and friend of mine, referred to my daughters as ‘little bad asses’ that I knew the strategies were working. They were becoming socially conscious young women with the confidence to not just speak up but to also take action. Today, I couldn’t be more proud of who they’ve become. They’re caring, compassionate young women with the confidence needed to make positive changes in the world.

I was inspired to write this article because the world needs more confident women.


First, mind your values. The things that are important to you are on display to your daughters. If your daughters see you valuing the physical appearance of other women then they’ll think physical appearance is important too. The problem is that a woman’s physical appearance is more often than not tied directly to her sense of self-worth. If you want your daughters to be confident then you, as the most important male in their life, have to shift the narrative by acknowledging their moments of strength, effort and courage instead of commenting on their physical appearance.

Second, time is not on your side so spend as much of it with your daughters as possible while they’re little. If you spend a lot of time with them when they’re young then they’ll enjoy spending time with you when they’re older. Your daughter’s confidence comes from the feeling of being loved. One easy way to create opportunities to spend time together is by volunteering to drive them wherever they need to go. Yes it is exhausting, but, I guarantee that you will have some of the best conversations ever in the car with them. Moreover, if you’re doing them a favor like bringing them to a friend’s house then they’ll be even more likely to candidly share how things are going with you because they’re in such a good mood. As a side note, I do arrival duty at a middle school every morning and I can tell you anecdotally, that the most confident girls have dads driving them to school. Is this correlation or causation? You be the judge.

Third, choose your TV entertainment options carefully. As a parent, I was okay with my two young daughters watching former British Special Forces officer, Bear Grylls, drinking his own urine from a snake skin on the TV Show Man vs Wild but I never wanted them watching any of the typical after school programs on Disney like Hannah Montanna. The programming developed for young kids on networks like Disney often deal with themes centered around teenage relationships and physical appearance which are in direct conflict with the first strategy above of changing the narrative to valuing character over physical appearance. Note that I also worked hard to limit their interest and exposure to any of the classic Disney movies about princesses because I didn’t want their view of the world to be influenced by skewed gender roles.

Fourth, play with your daughter the same way you would play with her if she were a he. If you see gender when you look at your daughter then then she’ll see gender when she looks at herself. As a parent, I tried my best to set up the environment with gender neutral toys and books and then got out of the way. I let my daughters’ interest drive the kind of play they engaged in while also intentionally introducing them to many forms of play typically associated with boys from building forts, playing catch and roughhousing to doing parkour and skateboarding. Note that I avoided buying toys that focused on physical appearance such as Barbie dolls.

Fifth, take an active role in doing chores historically associated with women such as making dinner, doing dishes, washing clothes and cleaning the house. Your daughter needs to see you doing the hard work of homemaking to neutralize gender role associations. In addition, get your daughters doing work associated with male roles such as raking, mowing the lawn, cutting up and carrying firewood.

Sixth, take an active role in the tough conversations around relationships, puberty, sexuality and morality. Your daughters need to know they can talk to you about anything. Having difficult conversations with your daughter makes boundaries clear but sends a strong message to her that you are there for her in both good times and tough times. It may feel uncomfortable but it is part of your job as a parent.

Seventh, be present and engaged with them through the never-ending journey of their evolving needs. This strategy may seem to be so obvious that you question why it is even included here. The reason I have intentionally added this strategy to the list is because in the age of everywhere connectivity and touch screen devices, the competition for our attention has become intense. Parenting in this era requires a level of discipline and self-management that is unprecedented in the history of humanity. It is easy to prioritize the alerts on our smartphones over the needs of our children because we confuse the length of time in their presence with the amount of time that we’re being present. Being present with your daughter means being there for her all of the time — not just at important moments such as milestones or events. Being engaged means showing that you are listening by providing on-going thoughtful, supportive feedback. Being present and engaged means laughing together, learning together and crying together. The choice to be a parent comes with an understanding that being present demands self-sacrifice. You have to be ready to put in the time and prioritize your daughter’s needs over your own.

Eighth, build stuff together in both the physical and digital worlds like tree forts, home videos, zip lines, sling shots, websites or robots. There are some amazing mail order kits available these days from science and engineering to electronics and robotics. Here is a video of my daughters and I playing with a cool toy designed to teach idea prototyping called LittleBits.

Finally, give your daughters the space they need to figure out the world so they can come to their own conclusions about things. Curiosity opens the door to some of the greatest joys of being human. There is no faster way to smother your relationship with your daughters than constantly telling them how the world is instead of letting them discover it on their own. This doesn’t just apply to little kids — it is equally true for teenagers.



Tim Schwartz
Family Matters

I get joy from inspiring people, parenting my daughters & creative endeavors. I write to share my perspective & capitalize on my life experience. 🔎🤔