how to connect with your daughter

5 Things Dads Do That Melt Their Daughters’ Hearts

In Despicable Me, supervillain Gru finds himself having a tea party with three girls he just adopted. He also wins the youngest a gigantic stuffed unicorn and later, reads the girls a story he has written himself. These actions melt their hearts because they can see his efforts. His actions were out of character for him, but he worked at loving the girls anyway. He clearly wanted to learn what you probably want to learn too: how to connect with your daughter.

Maybe you feel like Gru felt at first—like you just can’t melt your daughter’s heart, like you have no idea how to connect with your daughter. This is especially true for most of us as our daughters get older, when they might need us even more. But it’s not impossible. Here are 5 things dads do that melt their daughters’ hearts.

1. Write her a note.

No matter how advanced technology gets, a handwritten note still seems to carry extra meaning. Look for reasons to give your daughter a personal note. This might be a list of things you love about her that you leave on her pillow. You could put a note in her lunchbox. Try mailing her a postcard from work to let her know you’re thinking of her. You could also print a picture of the two of you together with a note on the back explaining why it’s a treasured memory. It takes more work to write a note of encouragement than to simply text a meme—and she’ll notice.

2. Send her flowers.

At a men’s conference years ago, a speaker encouraged every dad with a daughter to make sure we brought her flowers. The idea is that as dads, we want to set the standard for the sort of man she chooses. And we want our girls to choose that kind of man—a man who cherishes her. We want her to know that a gift of flowers should come with no ulterior motive or expectations. The arrival of a floral arrangement to your house in her name will go a long way in helping her set that standard in her mind and heart.

3. Take her on dad dates.

To a child, having Dad’s full and undivided attention is priceless.

In addition to reinforcing the standard for potential dates down the line, you’re also giving her the gift of your time and presence. You could watch a sunrise (or sunset) together, spend an afternoon together on your bikes, or try one of our daddy-daughter date ideas. The important thing is that you do it together. To a child, having Dad’s full and undivided attention is priceless. Your daughter will love the one-on-one time with you—an experience she will appreciate even more if you’re normally busy or you have a number of other kids as well.

4. Let her choose.

I often make plans based on efficiency, budget, or convenience. These plans can be for accounting or future home maintenance or even where we’re going to snag fast food on a road trip. A great way to connect with your daughter is to look for places where she can choose something and give her the opportunity to do just that. This might mean she picks a different restaurant or movie than you had in mind or even a different arrangement for the furniture in the living room. Letting her choose things that have consequences for you and your family shows that you value her opinion—and that you value her.

5. Invite her into your adventures.

Whether it’s based on shared interests or our own experiences of growing up, men tend to find it easy to plan adventures with sons. But we need to do the same with our daughters. While they may never wholeheartedly embrace our favorite sport or love of fishing, bringing them along for our favorite experiences gives our daughters a window into our own hearts and, in turn, may help us melt theirs.

Sound off: What have you learned from experience about how to connect with your daughter?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are your favorite things to do with me?”