I hope they grow up with girl power

Tents in the Isambard Brunel car park in Portsmouth

NEWS COMMENT: Wild campers in car park might make a difference

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Being a father of two young daughters, I often think about their future and wonder how much of their current, strong-willed personalities and self-confidence will remain with them.

Of course, I hope that these traits will grow stronger in them as they grow older. The other day, my four-year-old daughter Alyssa said something that hit me like a bolt of lightning.

I want my daughters to be brave, confident, self-assured and positive

Warren Hayden

It made me realize how much I, as their father, will be responsible for making sure they grow up with a ‘can-do’ attitude and mature emotionally, physically and mentally strong. We were sitting at the dinner table when my eldest daughter Caitlin proudly unveiled a shiny medal that she had received from her infant school.

It was in recognition for taking part in football lessons as part of the PE classes. At this point, Alyssa announced in a jovial way, ‘Daddy, girls don’t play football’. Immediately, I felt like I wanted to sit Alyssa in front of the laptop and read back to her every page about equal rights and find tales of brave women who have achieved what they wanted despite the odds being stacked against them. Instead, I just made it clear that if girls want to play football, they can and you could even be better at it than the boys. Alyssa smiled and carried on eating her dinner.

Although I’ve always tried to empower my daughters in the short time they’ve been citizens of planet earth, this one small, off-the-cuff comment about football from my daughter made me realize how important my role is. I think it is vital for me to make sure that my children are aware of how capable they actually are. This can be as simple as asking them to do things for themselves that us, as parents, would usually do because it’s faster, easier and we’ll probably do a better job. However, for me, it’s all about planting those seeds of independence and confidence at an early age. Just a few weeks ago, a spider with enormous legs made its way from the wilderness into our warm house and set up camp on one of our walls.

When my daughters spotted it, their initial reaction was to be scared and frightened of the eight-legged creature because that’s how they’ve seen other people react in the past. After explaining that the spider was probably more scared of them and letting the little creature crawl over my hand, their panic changed to intrigue.

Now they keep asking if they can pick up spiders in the garden. So whether it’s being comfortable around spiders or proving that they can kick a football better than the boys, I want my daughters to be brave, confident, self-assured and positive. To steal a few words from a nineties girl band, I want them to have girl power.

Beware of the bear out there

Grizzly bears are powerful predators at the top of the food chain. They are awe-inspiring giants who, despite their huge size, are very fast and have been clocked running at a speed of more than 30 miles per hour.

Due to their fierce and dangerous reputation, it goes without saying that you wouldn’t want to come face to face with one of these animals. The closest that you and I ever get to them is via the television documentaries narrated by the likes of wildlife supremo David Attenborough. But did you know that one of these impressive brown bears is actually residing a little closer to home?

Last week, while in the car on the way to Stanstead House with my four and five year-old daughters, one was spotted in the woods either side of the country road. I have to admit, I didn’t see it myself, but apparently it was looking scary and ready to pounce at any moment. Five year-old Caitlin assured me that it was definitely a grizzly bear she’d spotted and not the bark of a tree. If she’s right and you go down to the woods today, beware of a big surprise!