Here’s a guest post from a great writer and e-friend, Joana Hyatt. She is an author and speaker who focuses on dating, and relationship issues – she’s one of my favorites!
Standing in line at a coffee shop the other day, I couldn’t help but overhear the phone conversation of the man behind me. He was clearly upset and at the end of his patience when he blurted into the phone, “You’re 27 years old Molly! Do you still need me to say, Oh, I’m proud of you, good job??”
My heart broke a little as I thought of the woman on the other end of the line. I don’t know the circumstances and I don’t know their relationship, but I do know this: every girl, no matter how old, will always need to hear that her father is proud of her.
Daughters need their fathers.
We need our dads to remind us that we matter, that we’re beautiful when the mirror screams at us, that we’re ugly and awkward, and to listen as we tearfully spill about broken hearts and broken dreams. We need our dads to model for us how a real man lives and loves, to protect us, to inspire us, and to continue to see the best in us when the world has given up.
A girl’s relationship with her dad will shape the kind of woman that she becomes.
As the only girl in a family of six children, I’ve been blessed to know how powerful and special this relationship can be. Now that my husband and I are expecting our first little one (a girl!), the issue of fathers and daughters is driven home to a whole new level.
To every father out there, this post is for you. To encourage you, to challenge you, and to remind you of this very important truth: you matter to that little girl, whether she is 4 or 27.
Here are three tips for raising your daughter:
1.You are her first love
Being her first love means that you will set the bar for the kind of men that she will date, and eventually, for the man that she will marry. For better or for worse, the example you set in how you treat her mother and how you treat her will dictate how she allows other men to treat her. She will take her cues on her value and what level of respect and honor she should expect as a woman because of how you first treated her.
It’s never too late to begin affirming her and modeling what kind of man she deserves.
2. Find ways to connect that are unique to her
I’m in my twenties, married, and starting my own family, yet my dad and I still find ways to connect and keep our relationship vibrant. A couple of years ago we started trading a journal back and forth. Once one of us has written in it, we either mail it back to the other person or bring it with us on our next visit. Phone dates happen to be harder for us, so this is a way to connect about what is going on in life and share heart truths.
Not every girl fits the stereotype of loving a trip to the mall. Maybe your daughter likes being outdoors. Or she’s big into dancing and theater. Perhaps she’s constantly dreaming of traveling on some new adventure. As you get to know your daughter, you may be surprised at what she finds interesting or what drives her passion. And if you have a teen daughter, don’t be intimidated by the amount of time she spends glued to her phone. Use that as a place to start connecting with her and then discover together your own unique way of building the relationship.
3. Battle for her
That may mean that sometimes you have to battle against her. Setting boundaries and parameters is healthy, from who she goes out with to how she dresses. Dads, you know better than anyone what other men will be thinking when your daughter goes out in that dress (or lack thereof).
I was so upset the first time my dad told me I couldn’t wear a certain outfit because of how it would cause boys and men to look at me. It took me a few years to see that what I thought was a parent power trip was really a father caring enough about me to take a stand, to protect me when I didn’t know how to protect myself.
Fathers, you matter more than you know to that little girl in your life. And when she’s grown and living on her own, your words and your actions will still matter. So love her well, love her extravagantly, and love her as only a daddy can.
Based out of Los Angeles, Joanna Hyatt is a national speaker on dating, relationships and sex, and the author of The Sex Talk: A Survival Guide for Parents. She blogs at www.joannahyatt.com and tweets @JoannaHyatt.