Keep your Father Daughter Relationship As She Grows
When you become a Dad, all of a sudden, your world becomes bigger and brighter. A new baby, she happens to be a girl, and your life is suddenly giggles, smiles, and, yes, changing diapers. It’s important for you to be there for your new daughter, to take part in her life. As an infant, it’s all about taking care of the new baby’s needs: feeding, bathing, cleaning up, and comforting. Infants are mostly about those basic needs, and they are basically the same for all babies. But as she grows up, she needs her Dad more and more.
As girls get older and go to school, they start worrying about personal issues such as self-esteem, how they see their body, relationships with friends–and then boys, school work, athletics, what others think of them, and on and on. Girls who have a Dad who is involved in their lives become more confident and more successful than those who don’t, and have healthy attitudes towards themselves, their bodies, and relationships with others.
What Dad Doesn’t Know Could Hurt His Daughter
Very often, men just don’t know how to relate to young girls. They may have no male role model to learn from as they grow up. So having a healthy relationship with their daughters is difficult just because you don’t know what you don’t know. But a great relationship with daughters is extremely important so that girls can mirror appropriate and loving behavior when in love relationships later in life.
Dads who aren’t educated about being a role model for their daughters could behave in a manner that is not conducive to their daughter’s learning how to have loving relationships with the opposite sex. So dads need to learn about how to have great relationships with daughters. They can relate to their sons, but daughters are a bit of a mystery. How can they learn all of this?
Dads need to start boning up before their baby is born and start implementing at birth. Men can coo and cuddle with daughters as well as the women can and once a baby looks at you with those big eyes, they’ve got you. Dads, you can start by reading parenting books and books about relationships.
These books will help you with other areas of your life, too. Now, while little babies can’t understand your words yet, they can understand the tone of voice you use. So practice talking to them as you might your older child.
Remember that a child’s brain absorbs everything, and your voice, whether loving or hateful, imprints on her brain even at an early age. That is how her attitudes and feelings develop within her, and she will take those with her wherever she goes.
Networking with Other Dads is Beneficial
There is one learning tool that is very helpful, and that is networking with other dads. You may have groups in your town that meet to discuss what girls need from fathers, issues they have, and how to solve them. One example of a networking event is a non-profit group called Daddy Daughter Hair Factory.
They offer free classes and products across America for Dads who want to learn how to style their daughter’s hair. The hair, of course, is not the goal, but the bonding that a Dad and daughter can gain during the class is a real benefit, and continuing on at home strengthens that bond. Men are usually intimidated about doing a girl’s hair, not really wanting any part of it, but in the class they tend to lose their inhibitions because other fathers are styling and braiding hair, too.
They gain camaraderie with other dads and form a closer bond with their daughters. Even guys who have partners at home can come and learn this so they can give Mom a break sometimes. Daddy Daughter Hair Factory provides a safe environment for dads to learn in and to network with other men who have the same goal, which is a closer relationship with their daughters.
Doing your daughter’s hair is one specific activity you can share with your daughter. It won’t take long to get the hang of it, and it can lead to other activities you and your daughter can do together.
More specific Ideas for Dad to Work with
First: Be involved in your daughter’s life. Coming home from work and just sitting on the couch is not cool. Ask her some questions, teach her how to do something, start discussions about school, achievement, boys, girlfriends, or sports. Ask her what she wants to talk about and what she needs.
Second: Go on a father daughter date. Do it every month. Make the date something to look forward to. It can be anything. Take her to a nearby park, to the zoo, or have a lunch date. Take her to the father-daughter dance. It will give her an experience with you and practice for a boyfriend date when she gets older. Smile, laugh, have fun.
A Few More Simple Ways to Bond
Read books together: little kids love it when you read to them. You can make it a reading lesson or enjoy having a discussion about what you read together. What did she love about the book? What didn’t she like?
You can share a hobby: the best part is you can teach each other. You could take her fishing. Then do something she’s into, like skipping rope or building with building blocks. Teaching is one of the most bonding experiences that you and your daughter can have because you are sharing knowledge and even feelings with each other.
Treat your daughter’s mother with love and respect: that goes for couples and single dads as well. Always treat the Mom with respect, even if you aren’t together. When you do that, it will be an example of how she can expect to be treated by you and others. If you show love and respect to her Mom, your daughter will recognize clues in her future relationships that are right or wrong and will choose accordingly. And if you make a mistake, apologize.
Set a good example of being a man: exhibit honesty, integrity, loving behavior toward her and others, and make her feel safe and happy. A daughter needs to feel safe with her Dad. The rest of the characteristics, honesty, integrity, etc., all feed into how safe a daughter feels when when she’s with her Dad. She wants to be able to know in her heart that she is safe with you and that you will protect her from all that is unsafe.
Talk to your daughter: Face it, guys. Women show their feelings more than men do, and that gets uncomfortable for a man. This where men groan and don’t want to do it. But little girls and young women sometimes just have to vent. They talk, they cry, they want to be held. They have hormones. They don’t necessarily want you to fix it, but they want to talk. So let them. Let your daughter know that there will be no yelling and no judgement. Just listen. Be kind. She needs help processing when she has a problem. Help her do that.
Show up at your daughter’s milestones: Go to graduations, birthdays, church functions, awards she gets, and every event you can possibly get to. You need to show up. Most of those days, she will be excited and talkative and just want you there. She needs to see your face in the crowd. Celebrate with her. Commiserate if she loses. She will remember that you showed up and that you love her.
Why Dads should Develop that Father-Daughter Relationship
Why should you, as a father, do all of these things? Well, first, because you love your daughter. Overcome your fear and give her the fatherly love she deserves. And, there are real benefits to developing that father-daughter relationship fully. And don’t be afraid to discuss more ‘womanly’ issues with your daughter such as sex and boys. Men are fully capable of talking about these things.
The current research says that daughters who are in a safe and certain relationship with their fathers do better in school, have higher self-esteem, greater confidence, gentle assertiveness, and even have a better chance of graduating from grad school. We know you want the best for your daughters, so get involved in her life, talk to her, dance with her, and give her a hug and a kiss on the cheek once in awhile. And you will get that love back in spades. You will also feel better about yourself.