“What a Difference a Daddy Makes – The Indelible Imprint a Dad Leaves on His Daughter’s Life” is probably the most timely book I have ever read. My wife gave me a copy of the book when my oldest daughter was just six years old. It changed my interaction with her immediately. Thoughts were opened up to me on the concept of balancing over-parenting and under-parenting; how much the opposite sex parent shapes the view the daughter (or son) has of the opposite sex; how much including them into the family is what builds their concept of self worth; and much more.
And here are some things I want to do with the material from that book to help my daughter feel a sense of belonging:
Say “I love you” out loud to her everyday. She needs to know that I love her and that love isn’t based on anything she does or doesn’t do. I don’t want her to feel like she has to fill that particular void in her life as she grows older.
My job title to my daughters is “dad”. They don’t care what I am working on, how successful or unsuccessful I might be or how important my current heavy work schedule is. They are just glad I’m there – at home! I need to be confident in my role in this world – no matter what job I hold. My title of “Dad” to my daughters gives me confidence and self assurance to stand tall and proud. Those characteristics will also help them grow in confidence.
Be connected emotionally and relationally. When I am playing for a few minutes each day or having supper, I want them to have my full attention. Though I seem to often try, I can’t have much of an impact doing one thing and thinking about another. I want to turn off the computer, the phone, the television (when we have ours out and set up) and be emotionally and relationally connected during those precious moments like supper, bedtime, free mornings and down days.
Enter her world, not just drag her along. I want to find ways to enter their world – talk about what she wants to talk about. Get on her wavelength, at least once in a while, on the topics that interest her. I want errands, trips and other “working times” to be moments where I connect with her at her level.
Build memories. I want to create rock solid and pinpointable memories so that she will always know that I loved her, cared for her and enjoyed her.
Set the example by loving her mom. It’s a circle – the more I love my wife, the more my daughters see and experience love. The more I love my daughters, the more my wife loves the way I love our daughters and then all the more loves me.
If you are a little girl’s dad, buy Dr. Kevin Leman’s Book, “What a Difference a Daddy Makes”.