The best way to protect our daughters is to teach them how to protect themselves
No matter how much fathers want to keep an eye on their daughters 24/7, raising them will eventually require dads to allow them to venture out on their own.
Shielding them from harm means empowering them with the confidence and skills to be able to defend themselves.
Before teaching them how to throw a punch, you have to build up their confidence to such a degree that, when the time comes, they won’t back down when confronted with a potential threat or aggressor.
One woman who was trained by her father to defend herself since she was a little girl is Jennifer Cassetta, founder of Stilettos and Self Defense.
“I was being taught how to be street-smart from my dad at an early age, and I’ve always valued that,”Jennifer, who has more than a decade of Korean martial arts skills, tells Fatherly. “There’s this false sense of security in females — you think your dad will always take care of you and they never really learn how to defend themselves.”
Here’s what Jennifer believes all dads should teach their daughters even at an early age.
Be alert; don’t be distracted by your phone
Kids today can’t help but be glued to their mobile phones; checking their social media accounts constantly has become as natural as breathing.
But Jennifer stresses the importance of awareness and alertness.
Dads need to instill in their daughters the habit of pinpointing a potential threat before it even has the chance of escalating.
“Nowadays young girls, teenagers — everyone really — are all connected to our phones. We have our earbuds in. We’re not paying attention,” she tells Fatherly. “Dads need to tell their kids it’s important get off your phone, look around, and be aware of your surroundings. Especially if you’re walking alone.”
Make intense eye contact and mean it
Fathers should teach kids the importance of a genuinely badass “stare down”, a valuable skill that they can use later on in life, whether they are in the workplace or faced with a potential attacker.
Jennifer says that the ability to scare the crap out of anyone lies in how intensely you maintain and commit to staring them down.
It’s important to acknowledge the power of body language, she says: “When you’re walking, have your shoulders back and head up, and always make eye contact. That confidence can often help people not approach you.”
Next page: More self-defense basics for young girls on the next page