I was chatting with my Mommy friends over the weekend and this topic of a father’s role in our daughters’ lives came up. This article from Focus on the Family sheds more insights on this discussion and gives Dads ideas how to make this relationship count.
|Daddy plays with Dana at her level!|
The facts on Dad
Research confirms, again and again, that a father plays a unique and important role in the development of his children’s self-esteem, behaviour, life choices and relationships.
When it comes to the specific father-daughter relationship, Dad’s involvement is uniquely influential. “Fathers have an incalculable impact on their daughters,” writes Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family.
“Most psychologists believe that all future romantic relationships to occur in a girl’s life will be influenced positively or negatively by the way she perceives and interacts with her dad. Practically speaking, a father has the opportunity to demonstrate to his daughter how a godly man treats a woman, setting the standard for her future relationships with men.
Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Parenting, says, “When my daughters were growing up, I tried to set the bar as high as possible – I wanted to affirm them, encourage them and even spoil them a little, so that a guy would have to do the same to attract her as a potential mate. If a guy ever got rough with them, or put them down, they’d think, That’s not how healthy men treat women.” Ultimately, a young woman’s relationship with her father has a significant impact on her view of men, her view of God and her view of herself.
The demonstrative dad
So what does it look like for a father to be demonstrative in his love for his daughters?
Dads can be practical in demonstrating their love by using words of affirmation, offering prayers of thanksgiving and intercession, giving their time and support, and displaying affection. In our home, Daddy makes it a point to give Dana a big, tight hug the moment he steps home; he rings her every midday just to tell her he loves her; he reserves his biggest smiles for her; he insists on being the one who helps her brush her teeth at night, prays with her and tugs her into bed with however many requests for bedtime stories. He is also the disciplinarian at times (though he wishes he doesn’t have to).
It’s also important to keep the father-daughter relationship alive with fun things, such as enjoying concerts, movies and games together. “Don’t let the relationship become 100 per cent training. We have to enjoy our daughters. That’s a really fun part of being a father.” says Gary Thomas.
Loving daughters through their stages
At every stage, Dads have an important role to play in their daughters’ lives. Here are some additional ways fathers can display love and acceptance to their daughters:
Infancy & toddlerhood
- Be regularly involved in your daughter’s day-to-day care, whether it’s bathing her, feeding her or putting her to bed at night.
- Spend time every day down on the floor at her level. Sing to her, show her pictures and toys, or read to her.
- Schedule outings for just the two of you. Go to the park, the aquarium, a bookstore or even the grocery store (added bonus: Mom will appreciate the time to herself).
- Pray over her and bless her each night before bed.
- Share activities you both enjoy, like bike riding, board games, swimming, sports or exploring nature.
- Make her laugh – act silly, tease her lovingly and share inside jokes.
- Take her on regular dates. Treat her to ice cream or a movie of her choice. Show her the kind of gentlemanly treatment she should expect on future dates with males.
- Share with her your favourite Bible stories, and tell her how you’ve seen God work in your life and in the lives of those around you.
- Regularly tell your daughter you love her. Tell her why she’s special, how proud she makes you feel and how blessed your life is because of her. Make sure you also tell her how much her heavenly Father loves her (supportive Scripture you might share: 1 John 4:9-10; Romans 8:37-39; 1 John 3:1).
High school and beyond
- Care about what she cares about. You might not be able to relate to every one of her interests, but don’t make fun of her or judge her. Show that you take her seriously and respect her for who she is.
- Talk to her. Make sure you put down the newspaper or laptop and really listen to her. You may not always (or ever) be her “go-to” confidante, but let her know you’re available to listen or talk – without judgment or condemnation.
- Pray for her regularly. On the morning of a big exam, an important game or when she’s feeling particularly stressed or worried, ask if you can pray for her before she leaves for the day. Gently affirm God’s promises and His deep love for her (Zephaniah 3:17; Psalm 91:14-15; Deuteronomy 31:8; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 46:3-4).
- Every so often, bring her flowers.
- Leave her love notes. Tell her you’re in her corner, no matter what. Remind her that she’s beautiful to you, inside and out, and praise her for the good choices she makes. Gary Thomas says, “I believe [daughters] need to hear specific words of affirmation that directly relate to who they are and their own particular gifting – helping them see not just where they fall short, but the evidences of God’s grace in their lives that need to be celebrated.”