Dads, you’ve heard the research about the importance of a father in their children’s lives. The truth is: we need you. We want you to be in our lives. There are stories, life issues and discussions a child can only have with you. This may seem to be a Herculean pressure for you to navigate. Especially, if there was never a good role model for you to position yourself after in your own childhood. You may feel overwhelmed. This week, here are a few tips for you to learn how to be the Knight in Shining Armor in your Daughter’s life:
- Date her. Ask her to go with you for something designed for just the two of you. You plan it. The date, the time, the activity. Of course, ask for her input but do a majority of the work. It never has to be to the best restaurant in town. The point is there is carved out, specified time for your daughter to spend time with you.
For my own experience, Dad and I would spend Saturday mornings driving to the nearest McDonald’s (20 miles away) while the rest of the family slept. We continued the tradition even after I was in law school and home for weekend visits. While Dad would occasionally dress up and we’d go to a nice resturant, those weekly car rides for a microwaved breakfast sandwich remain some of the best conversations I’ve ever had with my old man.
- Learn her love language. Dr. Gary Chapman has a book about the 5 Love Languages, which details the ways humans give and receive love. Study her to learn whether she gives gifts, or likes to spend quality time with those she loves. Once you know the best ways for her to receive love, show it to her in those ways. Again, extravagance is not the standard, consistency is your goal.
- Compliment her. If you’re not telling your daughter she is beautiful, cherished and loved, she will find a boy who will. My Father’s personal favorites were “Wow. Sister, you look like a million bucks”, “there is nothing you cannot accomplish” and “have I told you lately that I love you.” Feel free to use his sayings until you perfect some of your own. She looks to you for confidence in who she is becoming as a woman, regardless of whether she ever says that with her words. Women are hard to figure out, but she’s looking for your approval. Give it to her. Compliments and soft words stay with her forever.
- Set the standard. My husband continues to remind me, even after 13 years of being together that he knew I was comparing him to my father. Sometimes, I admit, I do this even now. This is what you want Dads. You should be striving to be the standard by which she compares every other man in her life. Make the standard a high one.
- Never give up. Whether your relationship is strained because of divorce, her teenager years, or perhaps some failings on your part, keep going. It is never too late to start trying to set things right.
Good luck Dads. I’d love to hear about if you put any of these tips into use and how it went, so leave me a comment and let me know.
Hugs and love,