While fathers certainly love all their children, it sure seems that more dads spend a lot more time with their sons. Perhaps they think that they have more in common with their boys, or maybe they are a little intimidated by the girls.
But with a little more understanding, fathers can feel just as comfortable around their daughters as they do their sons. It is certainly important for fathers to connect with their daughters.
Family research suggests that daughters who have secure and loving relationships with their fathers:
- Have better grades in school
- Feel better about themselves
- Are more assertive without being aggressive
- Feel more confident in relationships with men in general
- Are more likely to be admitted to graduate school and get a degree
Having a daughter with those attitudes and directions is worth a lot to a father. But in addition to the lifelong positives of a good father-daughter relationship, nurturing that kind of relationship can be a real opportunity for a father in the here and now.
So what can a father do to create a loving and secure relationship with his daughter?
Start on Her Birthday. Fathers who best create this positive relationship start on the day she is born. Get involved in her life from the very outset. Take an active role in caring for this baby girl. The more time you spend with her earlier, the easier it will be to continue building the relationship later.
Teach Her New Things. While it is great when a dad teaches his daughter to ride a bike or to read or do chores, often the best things he can teach her are "guy things." Skills like fixing a car, fishing, golfing, or home repairs will serve a girl just as well as a boy and will give her confidence that she can tackle anything.
Just being with her dad doing things he is good at will be a real treat for her.
Listen Lots. Many of our daughters love to talk. In my experience, the girls tend to vocalize more than the boys do growing up. What a dad can do to build his relationship with his daughter is to listen more. Pay attention to what she says when you are together. Listen to what she is thinking, dreaming and wishing in her life. And most of all, keep confidences. When she shares something with you that is private and bares her soul, don't repeat the story. It is one sure way to hurt your relationship when you violate a trust.
Make Time For Fun. My little two-year-old granddaughter told me recently that she and her daddy went on a date. They looked at toys at the toy store and then went out for a treat. My son-in-law is learning the importance of spending time having fun with his daughter. Do things together that are fun and entertaining. I have been with my daughters miniature golfing, hiking, swimming, going to library storytime and going to plays.
Building fun memories in a positive environment can make a big difference.
Tell Her She's Beautiful. This will sound a little corny to some fathers, but it is important. Modern culture and the media often give our daughters messages that they need to be the right weight, wear the right makeup, dress stylishly and sometimes immodestly to be beautiful. When you tell your daughter she is beautiful, emphasize the importance of being beautiful inside – more than skin-deep. Compliment her when her eyes sparkle or when she breaks into a big smile.
Write Notes and Letters. You may remember from your dating years that girls love cards and notes and letters. Take the time occasionally to write your daughter a letter expressing your feelings, letting her know how you feel about her and how proud you are of her. These little personal expressions mean and lot to our daughters and are a good way of showing love.
Be a Great Example of Manhood. The way your daughter sees you treat women makes a big difference in how she will see men later in her life. Be on your best behavior with her, her mother and other female friends and relatives. Simple courtesy and kindness will go a long way in helping her know what to expect of men in her later life.
Making time and expending energy in building your relationship with your daughter will pay big dividends over time. Even though it may seem like more fun to spend time with the boys, there is still nothing quite like the relationship that can develop between a daughter and her daddy.