How do you love your daughter? What does she need from you? These are questions that every father to a girl must ask. Girls are different from boys. They need to be treated differently, related to differently, and loved differently. And as her father, it is vital that you are the one who shows her how she is to be treated and loved. Whatever message you send her while she is growing up is the message she will believe and take with her as she goes out into the world. That message will affect who she believes she is and it will affect her relationships with men. The way the message affects her can run deep and it can cause many issues for a young woman. Fathers are so important in a daughter’s life. She needs you, the only earthly father that she has, to love her.
So how do you do that? As a man it may be uncomfortable, scary, and even unnatural to care for a little girl. You may not know what to do with her or how to relate with her. That’s okay. Like any relationship, a father/daughter relationship takes work. It’s okay to not know and it’s okay to be a little afraid. What it not okay is to remain there. It’s not okay to not work at having a relationship with your daughter. It’s not okay to ignore her need for your love and attention. As long as you are putting in genuine effort then you are doing well. But when you put in no effort, you hurt her, and there are far too many fathers these days who put in no effort. Don’t be one of them. Love her, care for her, and she will blossom.
There are six things that I think are so important for a father to do for his daughter.
1. Tell her you love her often.
You need to tell your daughter that you love her. Not just every once in a while or only when she says it first. You need to tell her often. Girls doubt themselves, especially as they grow older and get into their teenage years, but hearing you say that you love her will give her confidence in at least one thing. It does a girl’s heart good, at any age, to know that her father loves her. So tell her. Often.
2. Talk with her and listen to her.
Girls like to talk and I know listening to her can be a challenge but one of the greatest needs of any girl is for her to feel that she is worthy. If you take the time to talk with her and listen to her, she will feel that she is important and is worth listening to. Taking interest in her, what she likes to do, what she wants to say, and what she thinks will affirm for her that you value her. That is so important.
3. Show affection.
Hug her, smile at her, and tell her that she is beautiful. Every girl wants to know that she is beautiful and that desire should first be met by her father. Little girls like to dress up and twirl around and put on a show. They do that because they want to feel lovely and they want you to see it. They’re saying, “Look at me! Aren’t I lovely?” As they grow older they won’t dress up and twirl around but they will still be shouting, in their own way, “Look at me! Aren’t I lovely?” If that question isn’t answered by her father then she will go seeking it somewhere or in someone else.
4. Treat her well.
Treat her like you want her husband to one day treat her. Show her what being treated by a gentleman is like. Open doors for her, help her carry things, use manners when speaking with her, and be gentle with her. Even if your daughter is a tomboy there is still a desire within her to be treated as a lady at certain times. As a girl gets older it is especially important for a father to know the boundaries when it comes to the physical and emotional aspects of a young lady. Be gentle, sweet, kind, and respectful.
5. Love her mother.
It is so important for a child to see love displayed between her parents. Knowing that her parents love each other and also being able to see evidence of that makes her feel safe and secure. And seeing the way you treat your wife shows her an example of how a man is to treat and love a woman. If you love your wife well then your daughter will desire to marry a man who will love her the same way. She won’t settle for less because she’ll believe that love is real and that she is worthy of that love.
6. Disciple her.
You are her spiritual leader and you (and your wife) should be the ones discipling her. Pray for and with your daughter. Teach her God’s Word and about God Himself. Teach her that there is a Heavenly Father who is sovereign over all and remains unfailing, even when you fail as her earthly father.
Your role in your daughter’s life is so important. You can either accept that role and do your best to fulfill it or you can ignore it and be uninvolved. Either way, you will be sending your daughter a message. It will either be “you are loved, you are beautiful, you are worthy, and you are important” or it will be “I don’t love you, I don’t care, you aren’t worth my effort.” Both messages will stick with your daughter for a lifetime and will affect the way she views herself. So love her. Tell her, talk with her, listen to her, show her affection, treat her well, disciple her, and show her what true love is by loving her mother. With God’s help, guidance, and wisdom, you can do this. You can be the father your daughter needs.