My dad was my hero, my confidante, and my model of what a man should be and how he should treat women. Of course I appreciated my mom. But one of the best things she did for me was allow me to have a really good relationship with my dad. She wasn’t jealous of the time and attention he gave me and my sisters. She didn’t interfere and she never criticized him to us.
So what did my dad do that was so special?
He was hands on. Oh, he left most of the bathing and dressing of his daughters to our mom. But we knew we could crawl up in his lap for a snuggle whenever he was not working. He scratched our backs and we scratched his, for coin change. While we were little enough, he’d pick us up and toss us in the air. These flying lessons tickled our tummies and always won him a big sloppy girl kiss. He taught us to ride bikes.
He paid attention to us. He never left for work or returned home without a hug and kiss for each of us. He listened to our long tales and our dreams. He knew what made us each tick. He took lots of home movies and had movie night every so often so we wouldn’t forget special times we had together.
He was a gentleman. He treated us with respect, hugged and kissed us appropriately, and never talked dirty or cursed. I knew from very young, how a man should treat a woman and never had trouble discerning the wrong intentions of boys and young men.
That sounds like he spent all his time at home. He didn’t. He worked long hours as a commercial, retouch artist. He worked downtown, so he had a daily commute. So that he could work overtime without being away from home so many hours, he set up a ‘studio’ in his bedroom with all he needed to do his job. There were very specific rules about being in that room while he worked, so we didn’t spoil many hours of tedious work with carelessness. But, he loved for me sit on his bed and talk to him about anything and everything. He’d listen carefully, though his eyes never left his drawing board. Sometimes I’d think he hadn’t heard me because he hadn’t said anything for a long time, then he’d surprise me with a question or comment that let me know he not only listened, but was ready to help me with my little problems.
He encouraged me to not be timid but to try new things. He encouraged me whenever he saw me being tender and thoughtful of others. He encouraged me to ask for forgiveness when I did wrong and to forgive others quickly.
One of my favorite memories with my dad was our twice a year lunch and shopping trip. Once I was old enough to take the bus into town, I’d meet dad for lunch near his office. He would treat me to a grown-up meal with him at a nice restaurant. Then he’d escort me to one of the big department stores for me to spend the afternoon shopping with my spending money. We’d meet at the bus stop for the ride back home together. My dad was my first date!
So, dads, what can you do to raise your daughters well?
- Spend time with them. You cannot really know them, if you don’t spend time with them.
- Give them your attention and approval. Knowing that you noticed and that you approve, is great motivation to keep doing well.
- Show them appropriate affection and touch. They will know a fraud instinctively then.
- Listen to them early and often so that they will listen to you when it really matters.
- Build her self-esteem with honest praise for her character and her hard work and her concern for others.
I liked this quote from Dr. Meg Meeker in Lifeway Men. “Don’t think you can’t fight her “peers” or the power of pop culture. Exactly the opposite is true. Yes, the four Ms—MTV, music, movies, and magazines—are enormous influences that shape what girls think about themselves, what clothes they wear, and even the grades they get. But their influence doesn’t come close to the influence of a father. A lot of research has been done on this—and fathers always come out on top. The effects of loving, caring fathers on their daughters’ lives can be measured in girls of all ages.”
Even if you are not the biological father of the girls you are raising, your influence is great on their development and character.
There are many articles on the internet about Dads and their daughters, but I like these three the best.
- Read Justin Ricklefs’ article written from the dad’s point of view: 15 Things All Dads of Daughters Should Know
- Laurie Hollman’s article: Dad’s Guide to Raising Daughters: Infancy to Adolescence
- Dr. Meg Meeker’s article: Why Daughters Need Their Dads
Another article on Your Child’s Journey about Dads: