1. “I love you … and will protect you… no matter what.”
It’s important for little (or big) girls to know there is a loving and safe place they can go – no matter what! In their world they’ll likely encounter bullies, bad hair days, mean girls and people who will discourage them from reaching for their goals and dreams. The power that dads have in establishing a safe place provides stability to their world and creates self-worth and dignity in them. She can say “no” to a friend that has dared them to do some foolish, dangerous thing just to be accepted and liked. Her emotional bank is already full and that shows by not being desperate for that kind of approval.
2. “You are beautiful to me.”
Telling our young daughters they’re beautiful makes them feel beautiful on the inside, as well as the outside. This fact builds confidence and a pride in themselves and their abilities. On Sunday mornings, as I greet parents and their children, I make it a point to comment on how beautiful the littles ones are. Did they pick out their outfit, and what a good job they did! Their eyes light up and their parents smile. We help shape the idea of “beauty” for our daughters. We can’t leave that to society.
3. “Let’s go on a date.”
Take her on a date. Your actions and attention show her how she should expect to be treated by boys that will come into her life in later years. Dads set the stage for future relationships. A dad is the first man whose attention she seeks. His appropriate interest, or lack of, sets the stage for her perspective and expectations in relationships.
Some of those dates should be planned events. Dressed up, with anticipation of where you will go and what activity you will do together. Some dates should be spontaneous, kinda “let’s go get ice cream” times that show her you enjoy her company. Going on a date with your daughter is a real treat and each date is a dress rehearsal for the “real” thing one day.
4. “I am so proud of you.”
Praise her every chance you get. This gives her the freedom to try new things and the power to dream big. It also provides insulation for those times she will fail: if she finishes 4th in a 5 person competition or something new she tried that failed. Be there for her games or performances. There is no substitute for your presence.
The word “no”. I admit it. Our little girls have us wrapped around their finger. But I can still say “no” to things that would harm her , even if she doesn’t see the danger or agree with the decision. As a dad, I am there to protect her and make the tough decisions. It’s my job to teach her that “no” means “no”. She may need this foundation when she has to say “no” and mean it in a potentially dangerous situation. By my actions, I teach her that “no” should be respected. I believe this teaches her also that our words as men mean something.
As a dad I have learned the most important thing isn’t a word – it’s my attention. My attention affirms her worth and ability and sets the path for her to know: “I can do anything.”
Let’s raise a generation of girls that have a vision for their life and their worth.
~ P. Mark Evans, husband of Dr.Crystal, father of 3 confident, lovely girls, surrogate dad to thousands