For dads: Staying close to your daughter
For dads, one of the most important roles is to develop a close relationship with each of their children. You need to work to get close to and stay close to your daughters as they grow up. It might seem a little easier with sons as you both tend to have more in common, but it was really rewarding when you focus on getting close to your girls.
How can you do that?
- Respect her mum. While girls like to love their daddies, their mum is really their number one role model. If you make an effort to show their mum respect, whether or not you are still married to her, it will help your daughter love and respect you more. If you demean her mum or make her seem smaller in your daughter’s eyes, you are just putting a distance between your girl and you.
- Know her friends. Particularly in the later primary school years and early secondary years, your daughter’s friends become a really important part of her life. She will tell them things she won’t ever tell you or her mom.
- Learn to listen. One thing I have learned is that girls need to be listened to much more than they need to hear what you have to say. Try listening without judging and without offering advice.
- Read together. It not only helps them learn to love reading, but it gives you common ground for later discussions. For example, reading Alice in Wonderland together will help you later when you teach her about making good decisions, setting goals and getting and staying on positive paths.
- Get involved in her interests. If you daughter is taking music lessons, listen to her practice and go to recitals. Complement her on her involvement in her interests, hobbies and diversions. Learn something about her interest so you can talk about it and so you can help her excel.
- Help with homework. Let your daughter know that you value education and developing life skills.
- Be there at the crossroads. At the important moments in your daughter’s life, make sure you are there. Schedule and keep the appointments for the rites of passage like her birthdays, first day of school and so forth. These are moments she’ll remember all her life, and you will have been a part of them with her.
- Make and keep promises. The way we build trust with our daughters is by making and keeping promises. If you commit to take her out on a date, let nothing get in the way. If you promise to keep a confidence, don’t share it with others. Her seeing you follow through on your commitments will build your relationship, and will let her know that other men in her life are able to be committed and trustworthy.
- Be a little physical. Sometimes for whatever reason, we are a little stand-offish with our daughters. They do tend to usually be a little more touchy-feely than we are, but you can add an important dimension to your relationship by giving her hugs, goodnight kisses on the cheek and holding her hand. Our girls need to feel our love, not just hear about it.
As we work to build these important relationships, it’s important to remember that our daughters need us to be a great dad and the most important male role model in her life. Helping her have a great relationship with you is good for both of you, and will help her be a better companion, wife and mother later in her life.