As the first man present in a young girl’s life, fathers have a special responsibility to model respect, openness and appreciation toward their daughters. By letting your little girl know she’s valued and loved, a father can establish a positive precedent for her subsequent male relationships, and one of the best ways to do that is by spending time with her. This is especially true as she enters adolescence, which can be a challenging time. Having special father-daughter activities can bridge communication gaps and build more meaningful bonds. Here are a few of our favourite ideas:

Cook together

Whether it’s whipping up a batch of cookies (keep an eye out for the fab one’s in the September mag) or creating a four-course meal, spending time in the kitchen with your daughter is an easy way to have fun together. For younger girls, keep it simple with brownies from a packet mix. Older daughters might prefer to attempt something more sophisticated, like baking a cake from scratch or you can teach her a few of your grilling tricks. Working out a menu together and shopping at the supermarket can reinforce life skills of teamwork and financial responsibility!

If you are not handy in the kitchen, this may be a good opportunity for your daughter to turn the tables and teach you a thing or two. Finally, enjoying the delicious fruits of your labor will make for a sweet memory.

Get rolling

For more indoor or outdoor fun, take your daughter skating. Whether you snap on in-line skates and take to the bayside beach tracks or hit the ice at Olympic Ice Skating Centre in Oakleigh or the Obrien Group Arena, girls of all ages enjoy the challenge of skating.

Mastering skating can also teach your daughter about the importance and fun of learning new skills. Younger kids tend to start by tentatively skating around the edge of the rink, but over time will learn to overcome their fear of falling and will be whizzing around with ease.

If you skate outdoors, you can also teach your daughter the importance of safety by making sure she wears proper protective gear, including a helmet, wrist guards and elbow and knee pads before hitting the pavement.

Picture this

Instead of simply telling your daughter that she’s cherished and loved, why not show her?

If you have a camera, take turns photographing things around the house and outdoors. You could even make a day of it, drive around town and take pictures of special landmarks or her favourite places. Daughters who like to draw or paint may prefer creating their own pictures. After you’re done taking pictures or sketching, make an album or a handmade book for her to keep in her room.

Makeover madness

For girly girls, the world may revolve around makeup, nail polish and anything pink. You might think that related activities are reserved for mothers and daughters only, but dads can also get in on the action. This will show your little girl that you don’t take yourself too seriously and that you’ll always make an effort to share in her interests.

Turn the bathroom into a spa for a day. Stop by the local chemist, pick up her favourite colour of nail polish and paint her fingernails and toenails. Hey, even let her paint yours! Surely you can handle pink nail polish for just a few hours! Maybe mash up a couple of avocados for a homemade face mask and slice a cucumber to place on your eyelids. You could even find recipes online for homemade cosmetics. Then, if you’re game, allow your daughter to give you a makeover. Nothing’s funnier than seeing Dad wearing blue eye shadow and lipstick.

Camp out

Camping out with your little girl is a great chance to teach her some practical skills and spend quality time together. Melbourne has plenty of great caravan parks with tent sites, and all the amenities you might still want at hand. During the day you can show your daughter how to build a fire or use a compass. At night, toast some marshmallows and see who can come up with the scariest ghost story.

If you have a younger daughter who isn’t interested in roughing it, backyard campouts can be fun as well. Set up a tent and sleeping bags, but instead of a campfire, opt for flashlights or glowsticks.

Daddy date

A daddy-daughter date doesn’t have to entail specific activities, like dinner and a movie. It’s more about emphasising a special time for you and your daughter exclusively. Make it a monthly event and something she can look forward to. If you have more than one daughter they could take it in turns each month so they get some special one-on-one dad time.

Depending on what you plan, let her dress up any way she wishes. She may want to put on her best dress or wear a mish-mash of clothing and accessories. Maybe bring her a bouquet of flowers if she’s older or lollies if she’s younger just to make her feel special.

Dates don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. When it comes to spending time with your daughter, it’s truly the thought that counts. A pre-teen might enjoy going to a bookstore cafe and reading magazines. Trips to the zoo, library, museum, Scienceworks, even a new local park could also work. Even making her favourite meal and renting a movie to watch at home can fit the bill. For an adventurous child, check out Clip ‘N Climb or a trampoline place like Bounce for some extreme fun.

Whatever you decide to do with your daughter, enjoy the time you spend together. The two of you will be making memories that you’ll both treasure for the rest of your lives. And she wont stay little forever.