When I wrote a list of activities mothers could do with their daughter to create a lifelong bond, I hadn’t counted on bumping in to the father-daughter version in my Facebook feed on the same day.
Author, husband and dad to four daughters and one son, Justin Ricklefs readily admits that it’s not easy to be consistent, but he believes working at bonding deeply with a daughter is worth the effort. Justin’s list of 15 Things all Dads of Daughters should know was published on the Huffpost blog a few years back, but its main message is sound advice for all fathers of all times.
These are my top three of Justin’s list. After all, he is a father and a man so I will let him do the talking on this topic:
She wants to be loved. More than she wants the stuff you can buy her or the things you can teach her, she wants you to love her. No one else on Earth can assume your role as daddy. Your daughter will let you down, make huge mistakes, and maybe even turn her back to you for a season, but don’t ever let her doubt your love for her. Look her in the eye and tell her you love her. Lots.
She’s watching how you treat her mother. One of the best things you can do for your daughter is to love her mom well. It’s easy to be child-centered. Running from one kid activity to another. But fight for your marriage and make it a priority. The seasons of life when I lose focus on dating Brooke (my wife) are also the same seasons when our children have more issues. I don’t think that’s coincidental. Love your wife, make time to date her, take her on trips, and show your kids that she is a bigger priority than they are.
Proximity doesn’t equal presence. The simple fact that you’re there doesn’t mean you’re really there. Especially in an era of constant information and entertainment. Turn your phone off when you get home from work. Or at least put it in another room. Your daughter couldn’t care less about your Twitter feed, your emails, your fantasy football team, or your group texts. She cares about spending time with you. Playing with you. Being with you.
All good advice, don’t you think?