Several years ago when my daughter was seven, her school had a father-daughter dance, and we went. We had a great time. We ate, danced, and just enjoyed ourselves. Since she is now a teen, I’ve been warned that our relationship may change as she gets older and hanging with dad is not as cool or fun.
We haven’t been to any father-daughter dances since that first one, but she still enjoys spending time with me, and I’ll always enjoy spending time with her. But I do see her not needing to be with me, or her mother as much. She is perfectly content to be in her own “world.”
As our kids get older, the dynamic of the relationship changes. Usually the kids initiate the change, and we adjust or react to the changes. Especially when it comes to dads and our daughters. As it happens, the Father-daughter “dance” takes on a whole new meaning.
Below are 7 tips for navigating the father-daughter relationship through the years. They’ll help you grow with your daughter as she goes from infant to toddler, to pre-k, to elementary, to pre-teen, to teen, and young adult, and finally adulthood.
1. The Newborn and Toddler Years
This is not a time off for dads. Your daughter’s mother may be a natural nurturer, but you can nurture your daughter as well. Allow the nurturer in you to come out, as well as being her protector.
2. The Pre-K Years
Your daughter is a sponge at this age, and is soaking up every word and action she sees. Make sure your words and actions are things you want her to copy, because she will.
3. The Elementary Years
Start now with engaging in her schooling. Don’t leave it all up to mom. This is the time to create the habit of helping her learn, solve problems, and take on new challenges. It is also the time to have father-daughter dates. It is important to still be affectionate even if she resists.
4. The Pre-teen Years
Continue what you started during the elementary years. Now you will have to really tune in, and make sure your listening skills are developed. The amount of words will increase, and you’ll want to hear every single one of them. Listening to the big and small things will help build trust and deepen your relationship.
5. The Teen Years
Be prepared for some separation, but always be willing to listen and engage when needed. Hopefully you can keep your date nights, and you have some neat things you like to do together. These years need steady and consistent guidance.
6. The Young Adult Years
Shedding your tears is okay and expected when leaving home for the first time. Leaning on everything you’ve shared and taught and experienced will help you to be the trusting dad she knows. Trust her to make right decisions, and be there when she needs you.
7. The Adult Years
She may be gone, but she is still your baby girl. And you are still her daddy. Realize your role as dad is still important to her, and she’ll need fatherly advice from time to time.
Huddle Up Question
What is something we should do together before you leave for college?