This beautiful guest post is from my husband.
I’ll never forget the bright eyed smile staring down into the home made wooden pin at seven feisty golden retriever puppies. They were almost as cute as my cotton topped 9 month old peering over the edge with wonder. And then it happened. It was the last thing I expected to hear. I had been coaching her for weeks…”Da Da.” I was taken aback when she squeeled and uttered the words, “Pup Pup.” I was so proud. It was adorable. I should have seen it coming. Today it is clear. I was raising a very independent, strong, beautiful girl.
Over the years I’ve dressed up as a princess, carted bundled baby dolls, unhooked slimy fish, played in the mud, and taken her on her first real date. I was made to be her dad. Unfortunately, no one gave me a manual on how to do this.
The last year has had it’s challenges, more for me than her. She is becoming a young lady. This tween of mine has new distinct interests, and freely shares her autonomous, informed opinions. Part little girl and part emerging woman. And me, I struggle, holding a handful of fine grain sand and the delicate balance shift that plays out between authority and influence.
My advice, embrace this transition. That’s just what she and I did a few weeks ago at a unique event held annually The Father Daughter Summit.
What I loved most about this purposed day was the format of the summit. A general session followed by a Dad’s only or daughter’s only session, capped off with one hour of Daddy-Daughter Dialoque. My favorite part was the amazing talks with my girl during the Daddy Daughter Dialogue. I want to share some of the things that I learned with you.
Investing in your children has legacy and eternal implications
Time, love, and availability translates into stability for our daughters
Your daughter sets her expectations about how a man should treat her by observing how you treat her mother.
As a father it is my responsibility to shepherd and develop my daughter’s relationship with God
The five needs of daughters (from www.fathers.com)
- Allow her to express her opinions
- Actively listen to her – Dad’s this means undivided attention
- Respond with empathy
- Become comfortable affirming her verbally
- Get involved in HER (emphasis added) pursuits
- Demonstrate confidence in her abilities
- Cast a positive vision
- Speak destiny – tell her the future has great things in store
- Be aware and guard – this includes people, media, internet, clothing etc.
- Prayer – we can’t always be there be we can pray for her protection
A very special moment for me in this conference was the first Daddy-Daughter dialogue time. We were discussing which needs and fears were most important in my daughter’s life. I leaned in close and tried to maintain my composure as I watched tears stream down my 11 year old’s face. “All of my friends parents are getting divorced. I am really fearful that this will happen to you and mom and we won’t be a family anymore.” I held my little girl in my arms and cried with her. I assured her that divorce was not an option for Kristen and myself. I then took her face in my hands, looked deeply in her scared eyes and said, “Honey, your mother and I love each other and we love you. We are not ever getting a divorce. I want you to know one thing though, we may disappoint you sometimes and we may let you down, but your heavenly Father will never disappoint you or let you down. As much as we love you, he loves you more.”
I certainly don’t know everything about raising a daughter, but I learned that day how important it is to love her mother!