My first daughter was born almost eleven years ago. After having two sons, I awaited her arrival with excited anticipation. Once she was born, something in my heart changed. I cannot describe it, but a daughter does something to a father’s heart. It must be the way God made little girls.
As I walked in the door one evening recently she eagerly announced that she wanted to show me something. It was later than usual and I acknowledged her but didn’t give her my full attention. She proceeded to show me a blanket she was crocheting. It was very impressive but I didn’t really give her much feedback beyond, “Looks good, Honey.”
Not a very smooth response, right? I don’t think that will get me any votes for dad of the year. I definitely missed an opportunity to connect with my daughter. Keep reading so maybe you can avoid the same mistake I made!
As I was preparing my thoughts for this week I picked up a book I read several years ago – Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker. In her book, Dr. Meeker’s goal is to help fathers strengthen the bond that they have with their daughter. She wants that bond to be a blessing to both father and daughter. It is a book I would recommend to any father who has daughters.
On the same evening referenced in my story above, I started reading this book. And then I read this (“they” is referring to daughters):
“They hope for your attention, and they wait for it in frustration – or in despair. They need a gesture of approval, a nod of encouragement, or even simple eye contact to let them know you care and are willing to help.”
I immediately flashed back to my daughter when I walked in the door. This is exactly what she was doing! She had hoped for my attention! She was looking for my approval! I quickly got up out of bed and went to talk to her. She had just gone to bed herself, and we had a good laugh because I scared her by showing up when she was not expecting me. It was a sweet intimate moment that I will cherish.
Today’s culture has so many pitfalls that can swallow up young girls. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters details the devastating cultural influences that daughters have to navigate, including sexual activity, depression, alcohol, drugs, and media use. Standing in stark contrast to these influences is the research that demonstrates the effects of loving, caring fathers on daughters.
Here are just a few of the positive effects shown in the book (see pages 23-25):
- “With dads present in the home, kids manage school stress better.”
- “Girls who are close to their fathers exhibit less anxiety and withdrawn behaviors.”
- “Daughters who perceive that their fathers care a lot about them, who feel connected to their fathers, have significantly fewer suicide attempts and few instances of body dissatisfaction, depression, low self-esteem, substance use, and unhealthy weight.”
- “A daughter from a middle-class family has a fivefold lower risk of out-of-wedlock pregnancy if her father lives at home.”
These are a small number of the positive effects listed in Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. Dr. Meeker’s research findings cover two and a half pages. The list shows a myriad of ways that fathers positively influence their daughter’s lives.
I am inspired to dig in and re-read this entire book, and I am confident that it will benefit me in my relationship with my daughters. Fathers, I hope that you see the tremendous opportunity you have to influence your daughter. Don’t miss out on the chances you have every day!
Question: Fathers, what is your reaction to this information? Daughters, do you have a story you can share about how your father influenced you either for the positive or the negative? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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