I met my wife on the set of a short film I wrote the summer after high school graduation. I had a crush on her but tried keeping it to myself. While we worked together, she received a phone call and learned that her next-door neighbor, a sweet woman named Kay, who was sick, was about to pass away. Seeing her heart breaking, I did everything I could to get her to her beloved neighbor just in time to say goodbye. I learned later that my wife found my genuine care for her and her neighbor at this moment to be noble, a trait she said I had in common with her father. Do women date men like their dads? Yes, they do.
And now that I am a father of two girls, I wonder what kind of men they will date. All dads should reflect on this question: Do I want my daughter to end up with a guy like me, or should she aim higher? If she should aim higher, then it’s time to step up as her father. Daughters are naturally comfortable around men like their dads because of their exposure to their dads’ traits growing up—but with what qualities exactly is your daughter comfortable? Here are 4 things to focus on because your daughter is watching.
Eye contact shows that you are listening and accessible. Do you pay attention to her needs, do you share your thoughts and feelings with her, or are you emotionally unavailable? Sometimes dads try to turn every problem into a lesson when all she needs from you is a hug. Other times we are detached. Is this the guy you want her to seek out—someone who ignores her deeper needs, who doesn’t connect with her? Chances are you want her to date someone who’s more attentive to her than that.
How do you speak around your daughter? My parents were verbally abusive with each other, and it affected me as I grew up. Speak to your daughter with words of affirmation more than with direct criticism. Try speaking with the same encouraging tone that both lifts her and holds her accountable. If you are mean to her, she may think it’s OK in future relationships for other men to be mean to her, too.
How involved are you in your daughter’s life? Dads must be hands-on, engaged with our daughters’ activities and interests, even if they are uninteresting to you. Your hands represent the energy you expend to show your daughter that she is a priority, that she matters. If you are not present in your daughter’s life, she may settle for a man who won’t prioritize her, her ambitions, or their relationship.
You don’t want your daughter to end up with a man who takes her for granted, so don’t take your daughter for granted. My mother-in-law once told a story about her dad. As she got older, he came to her for financial guidance. He trusted his daughter’s decisions, allowed her into his heart, and reminded her of her value. If we don’t give them access to our hearts by accepting influence from our daughters, spending time with them on purpose, and communicating their value to them, our daughters may marry men who don’t do those things, either. And it will be easier for our girls to settle for that kind of behavior in men if, by virtue of your example, she thinks that’s as good as men get—because yes, women do date men like their dads.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 5 Things You Didn’t Know Your Daughter Needs.
Sound off: What do you need to change for the sake of your daughter?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is the best compliment you have ever received from me?”