We often use the phrase “daddy’s little girl”, but I don’t think fathers realize just how much impact they have on their daughters. 

A recent article by author Tara Hedman, an American mental Health counselor who specializes in women’s issues, listed 25 things that little girls wish they could tell their fathers. They seem simple but to be honest, I doubt that many men are aware of them.

The messages girls get from their dads when they are young, and still twirling in frilly costume skirts, are the ones that they will take with them when they’re all grown up. This is especially so in two areas: how a girl values herself, and how she expects to be treated by men. I’ve picked the related ones out below – they are definitely worth taking into account if you’re a father, you know a father, or hope to be a father one day.

On how girls will value themselves and understand their own worth:

  • How you love me is how I will love myself.
  • Ask how I am feeling and listen to my answer, I need to know you value me before I can understand my true value.
  • How you talk about female bodies when you’re “just joking” is what I believe about my own.
  • Teach me a love of art, science, and nature, and I will learn that intellect matters more than dress size.
  • Let me say exactly what I want even if it’s wrong or silly, because I need to know having a strong voice is acceptable to you.
  • When you protect my femininity, I learn everything about me is worthy of protecting.

On how they will expect men to treat them:

  • I learn how I should be treated by how you treat my mum, whether you are married to her or not
  • Please don’t talk about sex like a teenage boy, or I think it’s something dirty.
  • How you handle my heart, is how I will allow it to be handled by others.
  • If you teach me what safe feels like when I’m with you, I will know better how to guard myself from men who are not.
  • Hug, hold, and kiss me in all the ways a daddy does that are right and good and pure. I need it so much to understand healthy touch.

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.