“A daughter needs a dad to be the standard against which she will judge all men.”–Gregory Lang
As simple of a statement as that may be, the magnitude that comes with it is rarely conceived. If I think for one moment about the impact I have on my daughter’s life, an impact that began from her very first breath, the first time I held her in my arms, the first time I placed a kiss gently on her sweet little bald head, I get overcome with emotions. I have tears from the love that I just want to pour into her, but also anxiety, because there is no greater a responsibility than raising a daughter. Take it seriously. But don’t do it seriously!
As fathers, we have a very serious undertaking when we bring a little woman into this world.
When Zoe was first born, I had these plans that I had created in my mind, plans for my daughter, plans for her to play dress up as a princess, ride ponies, play with Barbie dolls, and on and on. But that was not fair to her, as a young woman, to funnel her down an overly used generalization of what I thought a daughter should be.
Instead, I decided I would let her lead the way.
Now, I don’t mean as far as attitude, behavior, etc. I mean, I let her be her. Really, if anyone has ever met my daughter you would understand that I didn’t have much of choice. She is, without a doubt, her own person. I have a saying I always use with the kids,
“You do you.”
I encourage her to try new things, explore who she wants to be, and I show her how to look at the world with eyes wide open. Zoe has tried more than her fair share of activities. From guitar, to dance, to basketball, soccer, art, chorus, you name it. And I have a feeling she will be trying many more things as the years go by. She isn’t allowed to quit in the middle of a season or until she has given a good go of it. But I don’t force anything on her, especially my preconceived notion of who I think she should be. I want to raise a strong, independent, worldly woman that has the courage to take on anything that comes her way.
“A Father’s job is not to teach his daughter how to be a lady. It’s to teach her how a lady should be treated.”-Anonymous
Along with allowing our daughters to be their own person and grow into who they want to be, we, as fathers, have another impact we make on our daughters that stretches into every fiber of who she is, who she will be, and forever the expectations she has for her own self and how she should be treated.
An open letter to fathers of daughters:
Dear fellow dad,
Your daughter is watching you. She is paying attention to how you treat her mother or women you date. She is seeing how you talk to the lady at the grocery store and the relationship you have with your mother. Your little woman notices the tone in your voice with how you respond to her when she has made a mistake. So, be sure to show respect at all times. Love her with every fiber of your being. Be slow to anger and dish out consequences from a place of grace and understanding. You are the model for which she will judge all men. Make life fun! Let her paint your nails if she wants, put makeup on your beard, play in the mud with her, throw football with her, just show her how to enjoy life! Show her there’s a time to be serious as well, but let her know that life doesn’t have to be so serious.
Take your daughter out for one on one time, no matter if that’s a dinner out on the town or just a trip for ice cream. Treat your daughter with the thinking that you will be the measuring stick for what she demands from the men in her life. Compliment your daughter less on her beauty and more for her intellect. Praise her for the accomplishments she achieves more than how nice her hair looks. You will always think your daughter is beautiful and she will know that. However, what she will need to be taught is who she is as a person is more important than what she looks like. Society will constantly fight you on this. Don’t give up.
Don’t give up when your daughter thinks she doesn’t need you anymore. She does. Don’t quit on her during the teenage years, this is when she needs you to be there the most. Most importantly, always encourage her to be true to herself, to be authentic, to fight for what she believes in, and remind her that she can accomplish anything she dreams of! Then, move the hell out of the way and watch her flourish!
Dad of a 10-year-old going on 20