“Four girls? Ha, wait until their teenagers. Poor guy.”
I hear some version of this message every single time I go out in public with my girls. Every. Single. Time.
The thing is, I don’t buy it. Call me naive, but there’s got to be another way.
My girls will be up against a lot in this world. The culture will pour fuel to the fire of insecurities. The image of what it is to be a woman on TV and magazine covers is not real.
So, I turned to a book by Dr. Meg Meeker for help. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters is a bestselling book about how to be a dad in the modern world. It was recommended by Dave Ramsey and a number of other Christian circles.
As a dad with for daughters, this book was pretty much written for me. Here are three parenting lessons I learned:
1.Spend one-on-one time with your daughters.
The most encouraging anecdote I found in the book was to relieve the sense that you need to take them out and force them to talk to you or that you have to force yourself to make conversation. The real goal of the time with dad isn’t to have goals at all; it is just to spend time together.
Invite them to join you to run some errands. Go for a walk. Don’t worry about limiting “dad time” to those date nights you wish you did more. It is just the time that counts. You shouldn’t feel like you have to make that time productive. The time itself is goal enough.
2. Help her rationalize.
I felt that this part of the book was doing some stereotyping when I first read it, but reading it has honestly helped me redefine my role. Emotions can get in the way of anyone making rational decisions. Girls are more emotional than boys. Sometimes they will need my help to bring out the reasonable options and thing through the best course of action.
The challenge for us guys, though, is to try to offer that help without always trying fix things. First listen, then offer help thinking things through once she is in a position to try to resolve the issue.
3. Fight for her and teach her to fight for herself.
Here’s some advice I plan to heed: meet the dates at the door and let them see you awake at the house when they get home. As much as it might embarrass her, she will appreciate the intention behind it. You want to fight for her and protect her. You want her to see that this is what the man she marries should do, too. When she gets in trouble and needs you to come pick her up, do it.
It was reassuring to know that not only is this OK to do, but helpful for your daughters to see in the long run.
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