Audi of America took a bold stance this weekend with a Super Bowl commercial focused on the importance of gender equality.
The :60 spot entitled “Daughter” shows a father watching his daughter in a boxcar race where she's competing mostly against other young boys. The father contemplates how he'll teach his daughter that she is worthy and equal in this world despite all of the obstacles, biases and prejudices that exist. In the end, she wins the aggressive boxcar race (of life) and she and her father confidently walk off into the sunset.
This commercial got me thinking about my daughter Zoey. She turns 5 this week! It feels like yesterday she was grabbing onto my finger with her tiny newborn hand.
I asked myself … What actions am I taking to help Zoey know that she is equal to the boys?
In honor of her 5th birthday, here are 5 ways I'm promoting gender equality to give my daughter a better future:
1. Compliment Her More for Her Character Than Her Beauty
I think my daughter is the most beautiful little girl in the world. I'm her Dad so I'm quite biased.
There's nothing wrong with me letting her know that she's my pretty little girl, but I also want her to know that I truly appreciate when she's kind to her brother. I want her to know that I admire her strong attention to detail when she's creating her works of art. When I drop her off at school and she joins her group of friends, I see her charismatic leadership qualities start to come out. I tell her she's a born leader.
I'm hopeful that these words of encouragement about her intelligence and character sink in so she becomes a confident woman like her mother. It is a common reaction to look at someone and tell them how nice they look or how beautiful they are. I'm not aiming to stop that. My end goal is to have Zoey put more value in her character than her looks.
2. Love and Support Her Mother
My daughter listens to what I say to my wife. She sees the actions I take. Her understanding of how love and marriage work will come from our interactions together as husband and wife.
I'm not perfect, but my goal is to show Zoey what a supportive, loving and kind man looks like. I want to be a good example for her so when she grows up, she'll seek out a partner that will support her dreams and life goals like her Dad did for her Mom.
Last month, my wife rode on 10-hour overnight bus ride from Detroit to DC to participate in the monumental Women's March on Washington. I jumped at the opportunity to support her passion around gender equality and spent the weekend at home with Zoey and her little brother Calvin.
When I'm expressing my love for my wife through my actions, I know Zoey sees this. I want her to expect the same supportive and loving relationship from her future partner.
3. Help Her to Discover Her Interests Without Bias
There is nothing wrong with girls wearing pink, doing ballet and playing with dolls … That is unless they don't want to. Zoey is friends with girls who play hockey and love wearing super hero outfits. There is no “right way to play” for girls in 2017.
We're doing our best to expose Zoey to a variety of opportunities so she can form her own opinion on what she likes and dislikes. We've enrolled her in different sports, exposed her to different books and showed her how fun art and science can be. If she wants to learn karate, play hockey or start her own business, I'll be the first to support her.
Her favorite activities right now are swimming, watching Scooby Doo, and making YouTube cooking videos with her Mom.
Oh, and her favorite color is “sparkle”.
4. Teach Her the Value of a Dollar
By 7 years old, most kid's money habits have already been formed. Given this, it is important to teach our daughters at a young age that hard work and contribution equals reward. If we treat our little girls like little princesses that don't need to contribute, they will grow up thinking that is how the real world will treat them as well. It'll be a rude awakening when she's looking for her first career out of college!
Outside of her responsibilities at home, we offer Zoey options for extra contribution where she'll receive money. Things like helping vacuum the car, putting away the silverware or folding laundry will allow her earn a dollar. We're there to show her how to do these chores correctly and support her along the way. Once she's finished, we make a BIG deal about the job she did by hugging and complimenting her. This way she gets the emotional reward as well as the financial one.
5. Find Opportunities To Boost Her Confidence
Helping our daughters develop a positive self-image at a young age is crucial. With confidence and a strong self-esteem, they will be ready to take on all the future challenges of life.
My wife and I are always looking for opportunities to let Zoey know that she is imaginative, capable and strong. Whether it's with her swimming practice, her school work or even how she diffuses fights with her 2-year old brother, we let her know that we're proud of her. We're careful to make sure these compliments are genuine and deserved.
With these consistent (and honest) words of encouragement, we know she'll grow up to be a confident young woman.
The actions we take today will shape our children's future. Let's all stand up for our daughters and help them to become the best women they can be. The world needs them now more than ever.