Dads: Encourage your daughter's fitness just as you would your son
Fitness and healthy living isn't reserved for the boys.
As a father, I know it's easy to look at your son and instinctively want to pour into the activities and interests you share. The bond between a father and a son is perhaps at its greatest when it comes to participating in physical activities like sports, outdoor recreation and weightlifting.
However, encouraging your daughter to seek out a healthy and fit lifestyle just as your would your son is perhaps even more important.
Look dads, your daughter will encounter numerous instances in her life where she's met with resistance when she wants to "be one of the guys." In school, in social settings, and certainly in sports, your daughter will experience a pre-determined - and unfair - societal placement of "where she belongs," and if fathers don't step up and be a pillar of support for their daughters, the problem perpetuates itself. I seriously wish this weren't the case.
But remember the Dove commercial that ran during the Super Bowl a few years ago, asking women and men to act out certain motions "like a girl." Throwing "like a girl" meant an awkward, limp-wristed heave. Running "like a girl" was a display that would make a newborn giraffe blush with embarrassment.
Then, young girls were asked the same thing. The results were breathtaking.
It's incredible powerful. Watch it again:
Ask Mo'ne Davis how to throw like a girl and she'll hurl a 70-mph fastball by you. But too often, somewhere along the way, our daughters are made to believe they don't belong in the same fitness world in which our sons thrive.
So Fit Dads out there, encourage your daughters to participate in sports...no matter the sport. Be just as supportive of her if she says she wants to try out for the football team as you would if she said she wanted to take up gymnastics. Encourage her if she says she admires Dana Lynn Bailey's body type just as you would if she looked up to Miss America. If she'd rather go rock climbing instead of go to ballet class, don't snuff out that desire and passion just because it's not the girly thing to do.
And look, I get it. There comes a point with some activities (i.e. football or hockey) where, honestly, it's not safe for girls and boys to participate on the same field of play. But that's also a father's role - to help set expectations, to provide a reasonable outlook, and above all else, to protect his children from harm.
But we as fathers can do a better job of teaching our daughters that "where they belong" can just as easily mean in the gym lifting weights as it can dancing around in a little pink tutu like the princess she is.