Sitting with my friend Warren, the conversation came up about what do dad’s call their daughters? So we did a little research, we know what we call our daughters…obviously – but what do other fathers?

From what we’ve seen, overall, dad’s are calling their daughters many different names, but the most common names (other than their actual names) is princess, baby, sweetheart and cutie. 

A study by Bellevue university, Nebraska, men give nicknames as a way of being affectionate without compromising masculinity. “It’s a man’s interpretation of what being friendly is like” says prof Cleveland Kent Evans.

This topic is getting talked about a lot more now than it used to. There used to be a lot of acceptable terms of endearment for daughters that are no longer acceptable. I believe the conversation is starting to change and dads are realizing that there are better names out there to call their girls.

Thank you Seth, don’t mind if I do.

We’re going to be talking about all the nicknames that fathers call their daughters, what should we be calling our girls and what shouldn’t we be calling our daughters

Historically, girl’s nicknames seemed to be more sexist intonations, or more maybe subservient nicknames.

We’ve not unfamiliar with this topic, as we have spoken and written about how to offer praise to our children, and how that can have an impact on their outlook and performance.

As a dad myself, I  have called my daughters cutie, princess or don’t you look beautiful today.

We haven’t read about what the long-term ramifications are calling specific names over time is. 

However, by calling a daughter princess often, it’s possible that the parent is also doing many other things that also represent how they are treating them like a princess overall. 

If that is the case, then we believe there will be long term consequences.

Warren has been very selective in what he’s called his daughters. 

“It is important that there be a representation there, that when they look back they recognize the nickname that was given them, represented something rather than just a nickname that was commonly used and pulled out of nowhere.”

It also depends on whether princess or other names is a long-standing term.

If princess, cutie etc. is only being used sparingly for the first two three years of their life – sometimes it’s hard not to.

My little girl, she’s two and a half right now, sometimes when you see her it’s hard not to think that she is adorable.

The nicknames Warren has created is Nevvy bear, Ally Cat and the youngest switch between two different nicknames – either Little P or Monkey.

Nevvy Bear,  she has that type of personality she can be very grumpy like a bear coming out of hibernation. She can also be you know incredibly cuddly and strong in character.

Ally Cat is very independent like a cat, very strong-willed is able to take care of herself (or at least believe she’s able to take care of herself)

Monkey is constantly curious, with two older sisters, she’s climbing all over is just a very curious individual.

Taking poor qualities of your little girl and using it as a nickname is also poor taste.

If you called your kid ankle biter or something like that, is not doing anyone any favors.

Taking strong qualities that you like and giving it a nickname that they then can believe in themselves for the future makes sense.

As for focusing on beauty traits, like calling a girl beautiful or smart (back to our topic on the power of praise). This is also something to be aware of if it’s constant. 

We’re all human and there are moments where people do look beautiful, it should be okay to say that. But like all things, in moderation. There is a difference between a quick compliment and a genuine compliment.

People can tell, so if there is a moment where your daughter looks particularly beautiful, say so in a meaningful way. 

But don’t just stop there, take the time to add in other characteristics that make them feel empowered

Boys Nicknames vs Daughter Nicknames

More often that not, a son is called more “masculin” or sportive words like champ, sport, flash – even little man. Daughter nicknames are more often subservient or visually focused, like calling your daughter princess, Sweetheart, Baby Girl etc. 

Princess for example, at its core, is not a title you earn. It’s not something that you can put in effort and earn a princess title, you’re either born into royalty or you’re not.

Champ is a reference to prowess to success based on effort. So the nicknames for boys being driven by you know effort base which we talked about in our praise episode, is something  earned.

It seems that most of the nicknames given to boys do represent something that is drives them towards success 

There is definitely evidence regarding choosing the right name for your child and likely success

Why Do Dads Call Their Daughters Princess

Why do you think dads call their daughters princess?

I don’t know if we’re preconditioned to calling our daughters princess, or that dads view themselves as the kings of the household and that then makes our daughters princesses. Historically, daughters went to finishing school to learn social graces. Princess is often that personification of grace, beauty and poise.

I’m guilty of having said it before, I think it’s burned deeply in our culture. So many of the disney characters out there that girls look up to are princesses.

I’m liking that Disney is now making princesses more powerful and not focused on having a man save them (Moana, Merida and Elsa have no male love interest). So it’s a nice shift to see.

However, culture hasn’t really eliminated the work princess, just tweaked them to be more powerful and independent. 

What To Call Your Daughter Instead Of Princess

Let’s think about the typical boys nicknames. Sport for example.

There’s an Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore movie called Blended. 

If you’ve seen that movie, Adam Sandler’s Character (Jim) is so focused on treating the girls like boys, the oldest girl is nicknamed Larry vs Hilary. 

Hilary wants to explore her femininity but is afraid to bring it up to her dad. Jim, is also so unaware of her feelings he embarrasses her often in front of the boy she likes.

This is too far. I think there is a happy medium.

How about something more authoritative. Doctor?  I guess if you’re trying to really drive home that “get yourself educated into a higher level”, but this seems like it would really put too much pressure on one role.

How about Champ?

I could see champ, it’s more of a universal term and focuses on winning…may overdo it a little but I think we’re getting somewhere.

Queen? an upgrade from princess, ruler of subjects. maybe there’s something there, but it seems less “nicknamy”.

Here’s a List Of Nicknames We Have Thought About

Positive trait names

  1. Smiley
  2. CareBear (throwback to the show I watched as a child)
  3. Sunshine 
  4. Fearless
  5. Warrior
  6. Curious Jane

Animal Names

  1. Cheetah
  2. Hawk
  3. Lioness
  4. Sparrow

Sportive names:

  1. Sport
  2. Flash
  3. Striker

Don’t call your daughter Beautiful, or other physically associated traits. Daughters are so much more than just physical beings.

We have a podcast and an article where we talk about the power of praise, choosing effort based praise is shown to be far more effective.

If you have any other names you think would be good to add, catch us on social media and let us know!

Is It Normal For a Father To Call His Daughter Baby or Baby Girl?

I think when they’re really young yes, there’s no problem with it, as long as it stops after they are no longer a baby!

As they get older, the term is way too sexualized, it’s what you call wives, girlfriends, partners etc. I would be uncomfortable around a dad calling their little girl baby. 

I have called my daughters baby girl, but very rarely and only when they were really newborns.

I think if that nickname continues, it’s an indicator of what other things that are going on in terms of the relationship and how a daughter is not being empowered, and treated more like a helpless child. 

I would say the nickname is showing that they need care and they’re not capable of taking care of themselves.

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