I remember telling my bride early in our marriage that I knew I would only have sons. There were only boys in my family. My father only had boys in his family. It was all I knew. I was pleasantly surprised when my first daughter arrived. Then surprised again when my second daughter arrived. By that time, I was surprised when my son showed up in slot #3. Although an extreme venture into the unknown, I found that I loved being a daddy to daughters.
Life in suburbia creates a storm of busyness. Even as I am very intentional about time with my family, I can have stretches of time where it might be 48 hours between meaningful conversations with my girls. When you have a demanding job and your daughter has some level of extra-curricular involvement, we have times when her moments at home are while I’m at work and then I arrive home after an evening of meetings as she is deep in slumber.
My oldest daughter is now in Junior High and I have to admit that our life has changed dramatically. She has hours of homework and study on a typical evening. With school sports beginning in Junior High and hormones beginning in Junior High (Yeah!), things are constantly changing. Oh, and there are two other siblings growing up with her who each have their own unique needs and personalities.
Fathers, shepherding the hearts of our girls is such a unique opportunity and a wonderful gift. I want to share some of the things that have become very important to me on my growth journey of loving my girls, regardless of how crazy things may get.
Hug them often and randomly. I decided from the first moments of being a Daddy of daughters that my girls would not hunger for an affectionate embrace. Yes, telling them you love them is vitally important. Yet, if we as fathers do not display healthy physical affection our daughters will hunger for it and search for it from other sources. I want it to be normal in my home for my arms to be wrapped around my girls.
Ask them about their day and show them Jesus in it. When you really stop to think about it, how often does anyone ask you about your day with the obvious intention of actually listening to you? It is a rare display of compassion these days. Ask your daughter about her day and then step by step, over time, continue to show her how Jesus is an inseparable part of it. You will not only be discipling her, but you will also be a trusted and interested ear to her life’s journey. I can only hope this will pave the way of great blessings as the years stack up.
Find ways to spend quantity time together. Of course quality time is great, but often times it becomes a loophole that stretches into the absence of any discernible time at all. This could be as simple as sitting and enjoying an appropriate television show together. Sit together. Laugh together. Be together. Recently in our home, spending 30 minutes at night watching some of the Winter Olympics has facilitated some basic quantity time together. This could look infinitely different in various seasons and homes.
Tell them why your love for them guides your decisions. We have all been there before… she wants to do something and the answer is, “No”. She then reacts to the negative reply in a less than desirable manner and you find yourself punishing her for her hair-pulling, feet-stomping, and self-talking fit that has ensued (I’ve heard this sort of thing can happen). You have to realize that in the moment she will often not understand, but if you take the time to communicate WHY you have made a decision and that it is motivated out of your love for her, she will process it over time. Being this intentional will pay dividends as the years progress. This has often been some of my most profitable gospel conversations between myself and my daughter.
Pray with them specifically, then kiss them goodnight. Bedtime prayers can easily become empty and habitual. In order to pray for your daughter specifically you have to listen and know what is happening in her world. Pray specifically for her perceived needs (as crazy as they may be) as well as the needs you know she may not yet perceive. At the conclusion of that talk, listen, and prayer time, I always kiss my daughters on their forehead. In my heart, this not only communicates affection but it also communicates protection.
Ultimately I know that the days of my daughters’ lives are in the hands of God. I trust Him and am thankful that I can place my hope in Him rather than only hope in myself. However, I also want to give myself to a place of complete emptiness in loving my girls well. The learning and growing will never end, but I do not want them to ever doubt how important they are to their God and to their Daddy.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4, ESV)
Fathers, are you loving your daughter(s) well?