This month our daughter turns 16 years old. Right after I typed those words, I just froze. Literally froze. Couldn’t type any more words for a minute or two. That’s the type of impact good ole “sweet sixteen” has on a dad with his daughter, especially his only daughter. I have to admit, my emotions are probably all over the place, probably more than the 16-year-old who is supposed to have emotions all over the place.
A big deal is made about the sweet sixteen birthday in our society. At 16, our kids can now legally drive a car. For our daughters, they are no longer our “little girls.” They have matured mentally, physically, and emotionally. And the biggie for me and my wife, soon she will be leaving home. We’ve been counting the summers we have with her — we have 2-3 more summers with her before she is on her own. My hope is all we have taught her has her well prepared for life. So, what are some of those things? What are the things you must teach your daughter before she turns 16?
Here are 16 things you must teach your daughter before she turns 16.
1. She is loved.
When your daughter knows she is loved, she feels more secure and more self-confident.When your daughter knows she is loved, she feels more secure and more self-confident. You teach her this by your words and your actions with her.
2. To defend herself.
A dad’s worst nightmare is his daughter having to defend herself. We won’t always be around to stand up physically for her, so it’s important to teach her some ways to defend and protect herself.
3. To respect and be respected by others.
Not everyone will have the same level of respect we have for our daughters. We must teach them disrespect is not acceptable for any reason. We also must teach our daughters the best ways to ensure this is to respect or treat others how they’d like to be treated.
Hopefully, she’ll never have to, but if she has a flat on the side of the road you want her to be able to change the tire and get to her destination safely. While car maintenance can be done by paying someone else, having the skill to do it on her own can be helpful.
5. Never let anyone say you can’t do something.
She’ll have many doubters and naysayers in life. Some because she is a woman and some because that’s just who they are. What the doubters say doesn’t matter. We’ve taught our daughter since she was little that she “can do all things through Christ, who gives her strength,” which comes from the book of Philippians in the Bible.
6. Love herself, everything about her.
No matter where life brings her, how she looks, or what others do or say, teach your daughter to choose to love herself because she is amazing.
7. Learn from your mistakes.
Teaching our daughters that making a mistake isn’t the end of the world, but instead, opportunities to learn and get better that will serve them well.
8. How to drive a stick shift.
My wife and I decided that we wanted our daughter to know how to drive a stick, so in any situation with any type of vehicle, she can drive herself to where she needs to be.
9. Budget, save, and live debt free.
Finances will have a major impact on her life — either good or bad. Budgeting, saving, and living debt free will empower her to be financially responsible.
10. The mindset of boys.
You were once a boy. You know what boys and young men think about. Don’t let your daughter be unaware of this. Help her to see relationships with boys from other perspectives.
11. Respect your elders, particularly by honoring her mother and father.
Our family believes the Bible is the guide for our lives and we do our best to follow the principles it teaches. One of those principles is to honor your mother and father. It says the result will be a long life. Honoring mom and dad is something God values and blesses people who obey. These relationships will impact all of her other relationships.
12. Love God and love others.
Again, in our family, we do our best to live by what we learn from studying the Bible. The greatest two commandments in the Bible are to love God and love others. Whether you follow the Bible or not, the principle of loving others is valuable in life.
13. You are always there for her.
No matter how old your daughter gets you will always have a special place for her. Teach her you will always be there for her; you are there to protect, to defend, to teach, and to provide as her dad.
14. Have fun and enjoy the moment.
She’ll experience a lot during her lifetime. Teach her to have fun and don’t get too serious. Show her that experiencing the memorable moments is a great part of life.
15. Eat healthily and remain physically active.
Much like her money, her health will have a major impact on her life — positively or negatively. Teach her the value of eating foods that will improve her health, and stay active.
16. Don’t ever stop learning.
As she learns, she grows. As she grows her quality of life will improve. Teach her to be a lifelong learner and to not stop the pursuit of learning, even after her formal education ends.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your daughter and ask, “What are some of your favorite daddy-daughter moments?”