For Dads, there is something special about our daughters. Of course we love our sons, but there’s a special bond with our little girls. As I reminisce, here are 6 critical points of engagement. ♦
We visited my daughter, her husband, and their three young children this past week. They’ve lived in the eastern part of the country now for several years while my son-in-law is completing graduate school. We’ll visit each other several times a year and communicate often via phone calls.
I’m reminded just how special is the Father-Daughter relationship. I know I’m not alone as a father. Now with five young daughters between them, even my own two grown sons can now somewhat attest that Dad wasn’t playing favorites with their sister.
As I consider the past 30 years of my relationship with my own daughter, I can break down 6 key critical points of engagement that lay a strong foundation for a healthy Father-Daughter relationship.
1. Loving My Little Girl – My daughter was our second child, 2.5 years behind the birth of our first son. While he was a new light in our life, she changed our life. Incidentally, our third child changed our world. Without any real guidance other than a natural reaction to my children, I loved them deeply and understood the natural love and pride my parents had for me. I soon saw particularly how my daughter responded to my attention, love, and praise – she lit up like a flower blooming. This continued all through her childhood and adolescent years
Key Point: The unconditional love and acceptance that a daughter receives from her Daddy is without measure in the foundation of confidence, security, and value. Yes, Mommy counts too, but uncannily a little girl will twirl and prettily pose to capture the adoring eye of her loving father. This sets the stage for future healthy relationships with men, as well as understanding and accepting the unconditional love of a Heavenly Father.
2. Developing Her Faith – My daughter was taught about the Bible and the love of God and the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ at a very young age. We taught and developed her faith in the home and at church and helped her have the tools to navigate social challenges and pressures. I, and my wife, each separately prayed with our children at bedtime and told/read/sang stories that reinforced a Biblical perspective on life.
Key Point: The “instruction and training in the ways of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) is a crucial Biblical mandate as well as foundation of wisdom, knowledge, and purpose for any young child/person. This teaching gave my children a wise and solid worldview while establishing an understanding of a power larger than themselves and their parents. It also opened up the gates for a personal relationship with God they could develop themselves.
3. Celebrating Her Wins – My daughter was a high-achiever in the classroom and athletically through her collegiate years. She never lived her experiences alone as we were there with ice cream for good grades and pats on the back for sports victories. I coached the kids in their youth sports for 13 straight years (soccer, basketball, baseball, football) and encouraged competitive effort and a healthy perspective on team winning and personal high-performance.
Key Point: Competing individually or with a team allows an opportunity to encourage others and challenge oneself in the highs and lows (see #4). It lays a foundation for character, mental-strength, and determination. My daughter now kindly reminds me that I probably over-emphasized her wins and achievements. Nevertheless, healthy self-esteem combined with healthy Christian humility and acceptance of our spiritual depravity are valuable lessons for children of all ages.
4. Comforting Her Losses – At age 9 my daughter suffered a ski accident and miraculously survived a brain injury (epidural hematoma). She could not read for several months or participate in sports for over a year. She emerged as an all-league MVP high school soccer star though experienced tough playoff losses. She ran track and cross-country in college and was on her way to winning the NAIA National Championship in the women’s marathon when she broke down and collapsed with heat exhaustion near race-end. Prayer and Godly perspective helped all of us endure.
Key Point: As a father celebrates his daughter’s wins in life, he must also be there to comfort her losses. The father’s role as spiritual leader sets the stage for a daughter to accept the spiritual leadership of her future husband. A foundation of spiritual submission, humility, and peace is established through a father’s (and mother’s) steady and wise spiritual coaching in the midst of defeat, heartbreak, and even tragedy.
5. Releasing in Marriage – A father’s privilege is to one day see his daughter fall in love with a worthy man and unite in holy matrimony as ordained by God in the Scriptures. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Key Point: We prayed for my daughter’s future husband (and future wives for our sons) since they were born. She knew that and approached her future with confidence that God answers prayers and is involved in the details of life. This gave her a foundation of joy, assurance, and blessings relative to her future marriage and family. She married at a relatively young age (24) and now is the mother of three young children herself.
6. Impacting Her Children – Something changes in a father’s role when his children marry. Or rather, the role expands when they have children. His universe now includes another generation of little ones to apply a wizened dose of prayer and Godly influence. Each of our three children have three children themselves. There is ample opportunity to continue and reinforce a father’s impact on a new line of children.
Key Point: Blessed is the father who becomes a grandfather and continues his job of teaching and training in the ways of God. This perpetuates the foundation of wisdom, character, and Godliness. To see this combined with the Christian-based parenting of one’s own children is special indeed.
How’s your Father-Daughter relationship?
Charm is deceitful and beauty fades; but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. – Proverbs 31:30