I just finished reading Kevin Leman’s book, Be The Dad She Needs You To Be. He’s writing to an audience of men who have daughters at any age, especially a young age. Since my daughters are six and ten, this book was perfect.
At one point in the book, he gave an acronym for F.A.T.H.E.R…
Think of the kind of woman you want your daughter to become – and begin to intentionally help her develop those attitudes, skills and heart at a young age. At some point, you will let her go – freeing her to be who she is. I once heard someone say, when you cheer for your child, don’t cheer for her last name, cheer for her first – basically meaning, she’s going to be her own person. We want to allow her to grow and become who God is calling her to be! You’ll be in the process of freeing your daughter into adulthood the moment she is born.
They say the most interesting creature on earth is an 11 year old girl. Dads play a huge role in helping their daughters walk through life transitions and part of that role is to affirm her. Let her know you love her and that you are there. Help her feel safe and connected – even when friendships, grades, boys and social issues are pressing in. As you are affirming, be sure you aren’t blowing smoke. Instead of saying, “You’re the best athlete / musician / etc in the world!” try something like, “Wow, you sure must feel good after learning that new technique” or “You seem like a natural out there!” or “I can tell you enjoy that!” Affirm your daughters efforts in activities, in dress, in actions and speech – anytime you can.
The bond of trust you build as you are raising your daughter will carry over. You learn to trust each other. Children will respond as we build a relationship with them, knowing they can come to us with questions, issues and problems. The key is to be there for them during those times, then as they mature, they are able to continue trusting. Trust isn’t something that just happens one day, it’s something that is built over time. It compounds. You can show you trust her from a young age.
“Have you hugged your kid today?” used to be a big bumper sticker. I don’t see it much anymore, but it’s still a good reminder. With schedules the way they are these days, hugging can be forgotten. Hug and hold your daughter. She needs to know you’re there. In fact, your physical presence in her life will be foundational to the kind of relationships she seeks as she grows older and dates / gets married. Let her know she is worth it! Hug and hold her.
There is a difference between encouragement and praise. Praise focuses on the person and encouragement focuses on the act. To affirm your child, don’t just say she’s really cute, let her know you’re proud of her for taking time to get dressed and get her hair done so nicely on her own. Affirm her uniqueness – parenting is not equal opportunity. In fact, knowing your children’s uniqueness is a huge part of what creates a special relationship. Our job is to encourage unique talents and abilities in our daughters.
Role-Model Life For Her
There are so many ways to role model life for her. Treating her mother with love and respect is one big one that will affect a young daughter. How you handle issues. How you say, “I’m sorry” – and how often you say, “I’m sorry”. How you communicate and connect with other people. How you put others before you. All this is extremely important for your daughter to experience.
If you have young daughters, I encourage you to read though book – it’s really practical. Buy this book on Amazon.