The famous poet, John Ciardi, once said of being a dad, “Every parent is at some time the father of the unreturned prodigal, with nothing to do but keep his house open to hope.” In that, we find the essence of fatherly love, which is that it’s unending, persistent, and forever hopeful. Her dad’s love will define the way she loves, and to that we are charged with the highest responsibility of molding by the example we set. Will we be the immoveable foundation that centers her experiences?
She is going to hurt in ways that are unfamiliar to us as men. She is going to be drawn to people and things of which we want her to stay clear. She is going to expect in the height of her rebellion, that you will not falter, though she’ll say that’s exactly what she wants. She is going to test the truth of your love in ways that you’ve never dreamed. That is the reality of a Dad/Daughter relationship. You are the standard-bearer of what she will forever expect from men, and our success or failure in that has enormous impact on her life.
What are some loving tools we use to guide our daughters to healthy adulthood? This is how to show love to your daughter.
A dad knows in his mind the core values he wishes to instill in his daughter. For instance, no dad has ever held his newborn baby girl and said to himself, “I sure hope she grows up to be objectified and riddled with self-esteem issues.” In order for that to not be the case, we have to place within her the core values that lead her to healthy living. What is the primary way that is done? Living the example we are preaching. All men struggle to do so and some crash. Forgive yourself. However, our determination in actually being what we say is best, is something we must always be reaching for. When she compares and contrasts us against other males, our love will shine through when she knows we live those values she finds missing elsewhere.
Strength & Vision
There are going to be storms with daughters. Some daughters cause little rainstorms, and some are like hurricanes. But storms are coming. How we react in these moments is critical. Your daughter values your strength. She highly values the security her dad provides in being the rock of her foundation. Ideally, a dad is prepared with his response long before the moment arrives. This requires vision, forecasting, and preparation. Reacting in the moment usually ends badly. When she gets caught lying, we already know the punishment. When a kid picks on her at school, we already know how we will build her back up. That boy she was so in love with two weeks ago that has now broken her heart? We expected that and we know how to pick up the pieces. By demonstrating our strength and vision at these times, we are filling her up with the truest form of fatherly love, sharing her pain.
Acceptance, Compassion & Patience
What is key as a father is to never expect a finished product during the phase of construction. Parenting is a process. From baby to adult they pass through many stages of growth. What is key as a father is to never expect a finished product during the phase of construction. That seems like common sense, but it’s a trap many of us fall in. For example, during the process of instilling the core values necessary for her to thrive, she’s not always going to go along easily. She’s going to kick the tires of those values and test them. This can be frustrating to a dad. She’s going to sample what the outside world is telling her that contradicts. If we deny her that experience, it will lead to rebellion that’s often destructive. Set the boundaries she can’t cross (rules), but give freedom to grow. Understand that she’s not today who she will be later in life. Trust the work you’re putting in to yield the right result in the end. During all phases, a dad’s love is shown through acceptance, earnest compassion, and unbreakable patience. Is this hard? Yes. Love always is.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your daughter and ask, “What do you need most from me right now?”