From the Author
But what if it's a girl?
That's the question I was asked most frequently after I published my first book, Rules for My Unborn Son, which I described so self-assuredly as "one man's instructions for raising a thoughtful, adventurous, honest, hardworking, self-reliant, well-dressed, well-read, well-mannered young gentleman." Many readers, my wife included, wanted to know whether my unsolicited advice could be applied to girls as well as boys.
My answer, of course, was . . . of course! While the book, and the blog from which it sprung, was imagined as a decidedly one-sided conversation between father and son, I was confident that just about every Rule could be applied to a future daughter as well as my then unborn son. After all, writing thank-you notes, keeping a tidy lawn, and learning how to shake a martini are universal lessons and hardly the exclusive realm of men. But then again, there were all those rules about baseball. And tying a necktie. And a few dozen other rules that were admittedly pretty male-centric, if not explicitly, then at least in tone. My wife thought that our future daughter deserved her own rules. Maybe even a whole book of them. I agreed.
Boys and girls are equally capable and equally thirsty for all the institutional knowledge that a parent can muster. But they are also different. Wonderfully, obviously, and sometimes hilariously different. And never was this more obvious than when shortly after I finished Rules for My Unborn Son my wife and I had our second child--a girl. So I decided to write a book for her too. But I did have a nagging concern. In this day and age, was it appropriate for a man to be doling out advice to a young woman? What did I know about the unique challenges of being a girl? And if I wanted my daughter to grow into a strong, independent, brave young woman who was unafraid to challenge traditional power structures and antiquated gender stereotypes, was handing her a book full of rules written by a man the best way to start her journey?
The answer is . . . I don't know. I am no parenting expert. I'm just a dad. And I think a dad has a right and a duty to tell his daughter what he expects of her. To share with her what he knows about life and how to make the best of it. And while I might not know even a fraction of what it takes to become an independent, intelligent, courteous, courageous, honest, adventurous, self-reliant, well-read, well-dressed, well-mannered young woman, I do know someone who does. Thankfully, I married her.