5 Crazy Ways Having a Daughter Changes Her Parents' Lives

girl This week a photo of professional skater Tony Hawk went viral. In it the badass dad shows off his sparkly pink nails, courtesy of his daughter, Kadence. It wasn't the photo that really got me. It was Hawk's comments about how having a daughter is "different."

Yes, it is. Having a girl is different from anything I ever imagined, and more to the point, it has made me different. My long-held ideas about being a woman have completely changed since I gave birth to a girl, and the more women I talk to, the more I find that I'm not alone.

Having a daughter changes you! Just consider this:


1. I've embraced pink. Eight years ago, I sobbed when I ripped open the wrapping paper on a baby shower gift and discovered a delicate pink towel and washcloth set inside. I was ungrateful, yes, and also hormonal. I had grown up hating the color pink for what I thought it represented.

Fast forward to this past weekend when my daughter and I walked out of the team shop at a hockey game with matching sweatshirts, both a bright shade of pink. It's just one shirt in a wardrobe dominated by blue for me, but it was a pivotal moment for me as a woman.

My daughter, with her penchant for all things poofy, pink, and sparkly, has helped me see that pink is just a color. It's not who a person is. It's not a measure of intelligence. And it's not holding anyone back -- not so long as we're choosing pink of our own free will.

2. I expect more out of men. One day my daughter may decide she's a lesbian, and that would be OK. But assuming she's straight, she will one day be with a man. Looking around at some of the jerks in my town, that thought fills me with dread ... and anger. I used to just roll my eyes at their childish antics and antiquated thinking. Now I get angry that in 2013, there are men who still think it's OK to make misogynist jokes about women because, gosh darnit, my daughter deserves better!

3. I try harder at female friendships. Growing up I had a few female friends but I tended to gravitate toward guys. Since my daughter has encountered mean girls (it started back in pre-school, folks), I've found myself working harder to show her that women don't have to treat each other that way.

4. I'm kinder about my body. When you've spent much of your life battling an eating disorder, it isn't easy to be nice to yourself, and in private, I'm not. But in earshot of my daughter, I've made it a point not to make disparaging comments about my looks or my weight because I know she's at a heightened risk of also battling an eating disorder ... and it will be over my dead body that that happens.

5. I care more about women's rights. It's not that I didn't care before; I'm female after all. But I used to have a sense of "I can take care of myself" when I thought about reproductive health care issues or the wage gap. Now I have this little person who cannot take care of herself. She needs me to fight for her rights, and I'm bound and determined to give her better than I got.

Do you have a daughter? How has she changed you?


Image by Jeanne Sager

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