Fathers Be Good to Your Daughters

Shortly after my second daughter was born I embarked on a casual, but lifelong project. It goes without saying that, having never been one myself, I have very little insight on what it means to be a daughter. That said, I now find myself with a deeply vested interest in successfully raising two. Since I’m fortunate to know many happy, healthy and well-adjusted women of all ages I decided to start asking one simple question, “What worked?”

I call it a casual project because so far I’ve only had the conversation 4 times; it’s not everyday that you have the time or appropriate space to dig into some of these topics! What I have learned so far is all gold. Allow me to share.

First, opinions. One young woman remarked that she has always been thankful that her family modeled many different opinions on a variety of topics. She sees this playing out now as her siblings each carry different views into their adult lives. The beautiful part? They all remain closely connected, valuing one another not only for what they have in common, but also for the differences. In an increasingly partisan world full of “us and them” distinctions, what a gift to pass on to the next generation; there is beauty and strength in a difference of opinions.

Second, dinner. Perhaps the most practical answer I have received so far has had to do with daily habits. “We always had dinner together. Even as we got older and our schedules got harder to manage we always made it a priority.” Time is such a brilliant indicator of priorities, isn’t it? How reassuring it must be for a growing family to know that each member is a priority to the next. Carving out time isn’t easy – but it’s worth it.

Third, quality time. One woman responded, “I think the more quality time you spend with your dad the more valuable you feel.” This answer tugs at the heart, doesn’t it? What more could we ask for our young women as they enter into the world that they feel valued and valuable? It’s true that many young women seek their value through the voices of the men around them – sadly many men portray perverse and twisted beliefs of value. Fathers – our daughters learn their value through the messages we speak to them not only in words, but in love, in action and in quality time.

Fourth, understanding. My favorite answer so far came from a woman I had only met one day prior. When I asked her, “what worked?” she thought for a moment, looked me in the eye and said, “Never stop learning who they are.” She went on to explain that her dad never classified her and her sister by the “normal stereotypes.” Instead, he allowed them to grow and change as individuals – and he embraced those changes as they came. It’s a gift that I hope to pass to my daughters; “You are your own person and you don’t have to fit into the boxes that the world has created for you.”

Each of these could be an entire article on it’s own – and maybe I’ll write that someday, but for now, let’s be reminded that our role as mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and neighbors (the list goes on…) is vital in the growth and development of not just our daughters, but all of our children and young people.

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