As fathers we have a limited time to teach our children everything they will need to know to go out on their own. We need to make the most of this precious time. As dads we get labeled with being “goofy” or “silly” because we don’t SEEM to take things so seriously, but we do. And there is nothing more serious than a father’s love for his daughter. Here are a few things that we as fathers need to impart to our daughters during this cherished season of life.
1) Example of a Good Man - This is a big one for your daughter as she begins to develop an impression of what men are like. It’s a lot of pressure being a living example of what a man should be to a pair of little watchful eyes, but that is what we need to do. Don’t worry though. Your daughter needs to see you fail just as much as she need to see you succeed. You are not only setting an example of what she should do, but providing a map of what her future husband should be as well. Model a life of honesty, integrity and faith in God.
There are many of us fathers who have bad habits whether they be gambling, drinking or marital unfaithfulness. It’s not enough to look at your daughter one day in a drunken stupor and say, “Don’t marry a man like me.” That’s not going to cut it. Your daughter needs to have confidence in you as a man and as a provider. If you want her to grow up with healthy friendships and life skills that can help her succeed - you need to model those ideals for her. Cut out the gambling, drinking or cheating. Being a good father means you are accountable to more than just yourself. Be the example of a good husband, a thoughtful friend and a brave protector.
2) How to be Safe in Public - Teaching your daughter to be safe in public is an awkward lesson that you hate you have to teach her in the first place. Should you have to tell your daughter to look over her shoulder and watch for men who make them uncomfortable? No. But this isn’t a perfect world and your daughter will be vulnerable at some point in her life; and the voice in her head that tries to keep her safe should sound a lot like your voice!
There are a lot of resources for women’s self defense like Pretty Loaded. I highly recommend everyone, men and women, invest in a self defense course. But what you need to start teaching your daughter (and son for that matter) from a young age is to pay attention to what is going on around them. This is called situational awareness and it can save her life. Please check out my five part series on Situational Awareness for Families to get started.
3) How to Use Basic Tools - The Secure Mom gave me this one and I thought it was great. At some point something in your daughter’s life is going to break or need assembly. (Curse you IKEA.) Make sure she knows how to use a screwdriver, hammer and a measuring tape. You can go a step further and teach her that power tools are not just for men. A woman who can fix her own shower and install a new shelf is an empowered woman.
I realize that not every child likes tools, but they all love attention. She will love spending time with her dad. When the sink starts to drip, grab your tools, your daughter and fix the problem together. Let her hand you the tools. Keep in mind you’ll have to be patient in explaining everything as you go. You’ll be laying a valuable foundation for problem solving, independence and empowerment.
4) Chivalry is Not Dead - The world’s view on men and women’s roles in society seems to change on an hourly basis. Show your daughter that there are some set in stone behaviors that men should exhibit. For example, giving a woman her personal space. It’s not acceptable for men to be too close to a woman they don’t know. Space is a great asset in personal safety. Also, show her that holding the door for her is a gesture of respect and a courtesy. Show them that men who give them their space and open the door for them are the ones they should seek out in life, as friends or potential husbands. Tell her that she deserves the best and means who she surrounds herself with.
5) She Will Always be Your Little Girl - No matter what, you will always be her father and she’ll always be the little girl who loved dolls, bikes and ice cream. A friend of mine described the hard hit of reality it was to walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding. He said as the organ began to play he looked at her and for a moment fell silent. All he could think was, “Weren't you just born? How did we get here so fast?” Our children do grow up very fast and we only have a short amount of time to prepare them for life on their own. No matter the roles, no matter the miles, no matter the years, she will always need you as her father. And you will always need her as your daughter.
6) Have a Relationship with God - As your daughter grows and learns she’s going to have questions about the world, what to do and how to love. Make sure you are grounded in your faith when those questions arise. Give her direction on what God wants for us as His children. Give her the foundation for a deep and loving relationship with her Heavenly Father. Pray with her and for her. Read the Bible with her. Take her to a church where she can be spiritually fed and grow. There will be many people God will put in her life to help her become the woman He wants her to be. But know that God chose you to be her earthly father for a reason. Live a life deserving of the gift God gave you of your daughter.
For more ways to engage your children make sure to check out 10 Ways to Connect with your Kids. Be sure to sign up for The Secure Dad Field Notes to get more fatherhood and family protection tips.