Several years ago, I took my five-year-old daughter to a Father-Daughter Dance. When we left the dance towards the end of the night I asked her if she would like to take a walk along the river. So we walked hand in hand and eventually the path ended. There was no one around so I took out my iPhone and started playing a song. Then I put the iPhone in my dress shirt pocket and asked her to dance. Since that night we have passed the place where we danced many times. Every time she points it out, “Look Daddy! That’s where we danced!”
That small, but significant, activity bonded us together. We have talked about it often. The big things are great, but many times it’s the little father-daughter activities that help form a bond. With that in mind, here are 7 father-daughter bonding activities.
1. Special Handshake
Make up a special handshake that you only do with each other. Work on it together and get it just right. If you do, it could be something you do for a lifetime. She’ll never forget it and it will make her feel special.
2. Overnight Trip
Take her away, just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be expensive. However, make it somewhere you know she would enjoy. You could take her camping if she is into that. Have some bucket list activities to do during the day. Then at night when you lay down for bed break out some questions to talk about. Have a good mixture of fun ones and serious life ones. This also may be a good time to discuss sex, dating, and marriage. I’ve heard of fathers using opportunities like this to give their daughters a purity ring to remind them to wait until marriage before sex. It’s up to you what you do with the time. Either way, getting away together will be a bonding experience.
3. Playing Games
Play games together. Nothing creates a bond like looking into each other’s eyes which is why I like to have staring contests with my daughter. Play 20 questions and see what she comes up with. Whatever she chooses for you to guess will communicate what is important to her. Try charades. It will help with your non-verbal communication. When you are in the car together, play iSpy. Games are fun and an easy way to interact.
Take your daughter to a father-daughter dance. Get dressed up and take pictures. Then make sure you take her out on the dance floor a couple of times. Learn to dance so you can lead her. You want to make her feel secure. There are plenty of Youtube videos that can show you some simple steps if you rhythmically challenged. If there aren’t any dances coming up, then simply turn on some music in your living room. Or you can take her for a walk like I did and play a song on your phone. It’s a memory she’ll talk about for a long time.
5. A Restaurant that is an Event
Take her out for a special dinner. However, make sure the meal is an event. Japanese steakhouses put on a great show, fire, spatula flipping, and great food. Perhaps take her to a dinner theater, as long as the show is appropriate for her age, or take her to a drive-in movie (with dinner). Just make sure it is something out of the ordinary. Make sure it is something she will remember.
6. Her Favorite Activity
Do her favorite activity, whatever that may be. Observe her or, better yet, ask her if she could one thing with you what would it be. Then do that thing. At least for that hour or even a couple of hours, make it your favorite thing. For example, my daughter’s favorite subject is Winnie the Pooh, especially Tigger. We could have a Winnie the Pooh Day where we have a picnic with her stuffed animals (plenty of honey), read some of the books, and end the day with a Winnie the Pooh movie marathon. What is your daughter’s favorite thing? What themes and activities could you plan for a couple of hours or even a day?
7. Have a “Yes” NightIt’s important that we communicate to our daughters that they are worthy of attention and investment.
You need to be brave for this one. In the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey, he basically has to say yes to everything. Tell your daughter that you are going to have a “Yes” night. Whatever activity she asks to do your answer has to be “yes.” There need to be two rules associated with this night, however. One, nothing unsafe or against the law. Two, it needs to be considerate of others and not involve purchases that will hurt the family budget. Otherwise, go for it! I guarantee she will be talking about this night forever.
Whether you do some or all of these activities, you’ll not only bond with your daughter, you’ll set an expectation of how men should treat her. It’s important that we communicate to our daughters that they are worthy of attention and investment.
Sound off: What is your favorite thing to do with your daughter?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “If you had one wish for something we could do together, what would it be?”