The heart of great fathering
If you are a father of a daughter, I want you to know several things:
The first of which is that you are your daughter’s first love.
Every man who enters her life will be compared to you; every relationship she has with a man will be filtered through her relationship with you. If you have a good relationship, she will choose boyfriends who will treat her well. If she sees you as open and warm, she’ll be confident with other men. If you’re cold and unaffectionate, she’ll find it hard to express love in a healthy way.
Wow, that’s a lot of pressure right? Well, here’s how to get it right:
Girls like to talk more than boys and men. It’s healthy for girls to talk a lot, but it can be a problem for you, because men are experts at tuning people out. You have a lot on your mind, you’re less verbal than women are, and all of us, particularly when we’re really busy, have a tendency not to give people full attention. So when you’re together, she’ll probably do most of the talking. Just listen patiently-and don’t try to fake it. Daughters can tell right away when dads aren’t listening.
Boundaries and fences are a must for girls, particularly during the teen years. Remember that whatever she says, the very fact that you thoughtfully and consistently enforce rules of behavior makes her feel loved and valued. Think about the kind of dad that you want to be. Sure, it will take hard work. But love isn’t just about feeling good. It’s about doing what you don’t want to do, but what you know is best for her, over and over again. Love is really about self-sacrifice.
Many fathers complain that their daughters won’t talk to them. They’re usually wrong. It’s just that these fathers have discouraged their daughters from talking to them. Daughters won’t talk if they know the result will be only constant reprimand and correction. Daughters want their fathers to listen while they unravel their own tangled feelings and beliefs. If a daughter can trust her dad to just listen, she’ll come to him again and again to talk.
Being a father means giving up your time without resentment. It’s hard, I know. Men spend most of their time working for someone else. When you come home and there are even more demands on your time, you might feel like distancing yourself from your own family. Your daughter realizes this, and because she wants to please you, she might tell not tell you how much she needs your time. So you have to take the initiative to spend time alone with her.
You can do it, Dads. And Moms, you can help encourage and guide your husbands and partners on how to be good fathers.
At the beginning of her life she will feel your love, at the end of her live, you will be on her heart and in her mind. And what happens in between is up to you. Love her extraordinarily.
This is the heart of great fathering.