I saw an old friend recently and asked about his little girl.
The transformation advanced like this: His head tilted. He smiled. His body softened as if he’d been microwaved five seconds. In a final gesture, he rapped on his heart…one, two, three times. He never did speak, however.
That’s because he didn’t have to.
I know it sounds sappy, but the relationship between daddies and daughters turns me into putty, too. In fact, if you ever see me driving down the road crying, I’m probably listening to some country tearjerker like “Butterfly Kisses,” “I Loved Her First,” or Tim McGraw’s “My Little Girl.”
Any lyrics that remind me of my girls as babies—then fast-forward my imagination to their wedding days, where they’re waiting to be given away—pull my heartstrings every time.
Given this, is it any surprise that I have a soft spot for doting dads? I can spot them in crowds and, fortunately, see plenty in my community. Many are guys I knew in college, cool daddies who rocked the house at band parties—always with a beer in hand. I run into them at birthday celebrations, the ball field, even the Tot Lot, and smile at the evolution.
Eighteen years ago, I never would have believed they’d wind up pushing strollers, wearing Baby Björns, talking proficiently about Disney princesses and potty training. But here they are, taking parenting by the horns.
I love it.
Today’s dads are hands-on, and as my mom jokingly notes, this wasn’t the case in her day. Back then it was the wife who took care of the home and children, and the man who made a living and provided leadership for the family.
And while my dad never changed my diaper or cleaned up after me, he did provide everything a young girl needs: love, faith, and security. I grew up with one brother and three sisters, but I was still Daddy’s girl. My dad has a wonderful gift to make each child feel like his favorite by embracing our differences.
Looking back, I recognize the comfort zone Dad created. He set the standard for how the opposite sex should treat me, and though it didn’t save me from dating some less-than-fabulous guys, it did attune me to red flags. Whenever someone strayed outside certain parameters, an inner alarm went off.
Of course, like many girls I learned to tune out the alarm, to press snooze whenever I wanted, but eventually the feeling that something just wasn’t right prevailed. After a certain number of strikes, I’d start losing interest in the person.
Fortunately, I married the sweetest guy possible. And in silent calculation, I sized him up to my dad and my brother—another father figure—while we dated. Would he move heaven and earth to protect me? Does he love God and make me a better person? Does he love the “real” me, quirks and all?
When no buzzers sounded on my laundry list of questions, I knew I could trust my instincts. I now rely on Harry to instill similar yardsticks in our daughters.
Obviously, there’s no guarantee that girls who know better will choose better—or that girls whose fathers fall short will settle later on. People disprove this theory every day.
It is fair to suggest, however, that daughters who have devoted dads or a loving male guardian in their life will have a leg up in future relationships. If nothing else, they won’t waste years chasing the wrong kind of guy or wondering why they can’t trust those of the XY chromosome.
If you have a little girl, remember that she craves more than the obvious “I love you.” Like her larger counterparts, she picks up on every subliminal cue. So before she loses her baby fat, or fixes her buck teeth with braces, assure her she’s beautiful. State it as a fact, not opinion. When she sits by you at church, hold her hand protectively, squeezing it from time to time.
Tell her you’re proud of her just because—before she brings home straight A’s or declares a new achievement. And as you watch her dance routine for the fifteenth time, plant a smile on your face. When she’s up on stage, peering into a dark audience, that smile is what she’ll see.
The older she gets, the more she’ll roll her eyes, tell you you’re overprotective, and complain that you embarrass her. Deep down, however, she’ll be grateful someone cares so much. Your attention makes her feel worthy.
And isn’t that what we all want, daughters who feel worthy? Who have a core of confidence in place for when the world starts chipping away? It saddens me to think not all girls find early validation at home. On the other hand, there are plenty of daddies knocking the ball out of the park. And to these dads I’d like to say, keep up the good work.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by!
Posted by Kari on October 15, 2013