Daddy-Daughter Dates: Benefits and Ideas

 

It’s that season again… That’s right, Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away.

I know some people boycott that “greeting card holiday,” and others see it as one more chance to show their love. To each his own, I suppose. But I also believe a lot of good things happen during February because there are father-daughter dances taking place all over the country. They are often fantastic events, and a lot of fun.

This week I heard about the annual Father-Daughter Dance in Valdosta, Georgia. It’s the biggest one in the country, and maybe the world. This is their 18th year holding the city-wide event, and they expect 5,200 to attend! They’ve had to offer four different sessions over two evenings just to accommodate all the dads and daughters.

How to Be a Daddy-Daughter Dates: Benefits and IdeasAnd it’s spreading; based on the popularity of the Valdosta event, similar things are happening in cities around that region—and they’ll share their insights if you’d like to start an event in your area.

Now, let me repeat: to each his own. Maybe the dancing thing isn’t for you and your daughter, or maybe the event in your area doesn’t work into your schedule. But I do want to reinforce the great value of taking your daughter on dates.

For one thing, it’s just fun to go out one-on-one with your daughter. Also, when you’re out together doing something she enjoys, chances are it will be easier for her to open up and share ideas or just talk about what’s going on in her life.

And one of the biggest reasons for these dates is modeling. Your girls will probably have to sift through a lot of questionable characters before she finds a good one to spend time with—and even the good ones sometimes have lapses as they mature and learn about relationships.

As a father, you need to prepare your daughter for that, and daddy-daughter dates can play an important role. Even if your daughter is still years away from a serious relationship, you can start setting an example for how she should expect to be treated by a man.

Every so often—at least once or twice a year—you need to dress up, buy flowers, book dinner reservations at someplace semi-fancy and make it a “date”—whether it’s a formal February event or something you arrange.

Some other ideas for daddy-daughter time:

  • Hang out together at the local bookstore coffeehouse.
  • Movies and sports events can work for dates, but make sure you go for ice cream afterward, or do something else that gives you plenty of time to talk.
  • Do something physical, like riding bikes, golf, rollerblading, or racquetball.
  • Go for a drive around town and see the sights and watch people.
  • Even shopping can be fun—and can bring up opportunities to talk about modesty.

If none of this sounds thrilling to you, please remember, dad: It’s not about you. This is an opportunity to invest yourself in your daughter, and remind her that she’s highly valued and loved. And if things are tense with her at home, then you both might need a reminder that you can laugh and have fun together.

What’s the best date you’ve had with your daughter? Tell us about it—and post a photo—either below or on our Facebook page.

A Few MORE Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Make sure you take photos—either before you leave or while you’re doing something fun.
  • Be tourists in your own city.
  • Get 80+ more great date ideas in this book by Rob Teigen.
  • If you’re married, of course plan something romantic for your bride also. Having a daddy-daughter date if you haven’t gone out with your wife in six months would not be cool.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

 

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Dad, You Influence How Your Daughter Sees Herself

 

How does your daughter see herself? How about your wife? I wrote about something similar last month, but this deserves more attention.

There’s a fascinating video put out by Dove—aimed at women—that explores the idea, “You’re more beautiful than you think you are.” Before I continue, watch the video. (It’s really worth 6 minutes of your time.)

 

I’m not in the target audience for this campaign, but as a father it was eye-opening for sure. I have to ask myself, If my daughter described herself for a sketch artist, how would that drawing turn out—and how would it be different if I described her?

I’ll probably never fully understand the pressures girls and women feel in our culture related to their appearance, and how that affects their self-image. But a few things I know without a doubt:

Physical appearance is a big deal to girls and women. And with the way they are portrayed in the media, they surely feel very little room to be less-than-perfect when it comes to their faces and their figures. And focusing on any perceived flaws impacts how they feel about themselves as people. None of us would want our wives or daughters to feel that way, but it’s easy to understand why they would.

I say it’s tragic, because appearances don’t reflect the real character of a person.

It also reminds me that our wives and daughters are probably less secure than what they may show. If they seem confident and cheerful, that doesn’t mean they don’t need plenty of affirmation from us! As husbands and fathers, we have a lot of influence on how the women in our lives view themselves, and we need to be all about affirming them—many times, every day.

How does your daughter see herself how to be a good dadI won’t say affirming their physical appearance isn’t important. It is, for sure. But we should focus even more on affirming our wives and daughters in terms of their character and what they mean to us. That helps to build them up inside, and fosters the kind of inner strength that helps them maintain a high self-worth no matter what other signals they’re getting from the culture. (This is also important to remember as you seek to affirm your mother this weekend!)

The Dove campaign is powerful and insightful … and as fathers, it should motivate us even more to help our children focus on the right things. Ultimately, don’t we all want our kids to learn to place less value on a person’s appearance and more on what’s inside—a person’s heart?

We can play a big role in this area, and once again, let me point you to our ebook, 5 Things Every Child MUST Get from Dad, which goes into detail about five things your daughter needs from you, and five things your son needs. One section in the ebook hits today’s topic very well:

Go ahead and compliment your daughter when she has taken care to look attractive, just as you would a son who has intentionally spent time making sure he looks handsome. But more important is your ability to compliment her other qualities, like emotional strength, sense of humor, loyalty, intelligence, and courage. Make it clear that what you love most about your daughter are her non-physical qualities, and that even without her physical features, you would still love her just as much.

If you haven’t yet, you should download the ebook and read more about ways to show love and affirmation to your daughter.

But don’t let your response end with reading something—this blog or our ebook or something else. Do something! Start a new habit in the way you express affirmation to your daughter—and your son.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Talk with your children about what makes a person “attractive.” How much of it is purely physical, and how much is about character?
  • Have three or four specific virtues in mind for the next week—such as loyalty, courage, kindness, and respect. Really look for those in your child and be ready to point out examples you see.
  • Be creative and make sacrifices if necessary to find a shared activity that you and your daughter both enjoy. Make plans to do it regularly.
  • Make it clear to your bride and your children that your love and commitment to them will never change, and has nothing to do with their physical appearance.
  • Set an example and join your children in healthy activities—walking, running, or some other exercise.

 

What are your reactions to the Dove video? How do you affirm your daughter for her inner beauty? Leave a comment either below or on our Facebook page.

You can see more about Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” project here.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.

 

Be a Good Dad: Shape Your Daughter’s Self-Image

 

Evan Dolive is a dad of a three-year-old girl, and he’s upset with Victoria’s Secret.

Maybe you’ve seen the open letter he wrote to the company (or a radio or TV interview in the days since) expressing concern about a new line of undergarments aimed at middle-school girls, with underwear carrying messages like “Wild,” “Feeling lucky?” and “Call me.”

(Since then, the clothing store clarified—there is no new line specifically for middle school girls. Still, his points are valid since young teenage girls are very aware of trends that affect young women.)

I share his concern, and I believe this should be on the radar of every dad, whether you have sons or daughters. As he states in the letter:

I believe that this sends the wrong message to not only my daughter but to all young girls. I don’t want my daughter to ever think that her self-worth and acceptance by others is based on the choice of her undergarments. I don’t want my daughter to ever think that to be popular or even attractive she has to have emblazon[ed] words on her bottom.

I want my daughter (and every girl) to be faced with tough decisions in her formative years of adolescence. Decisions like should I be a doctor or a lawyer? Should I take calculus as a junior or a senior? Do I want to go to Texas A&M or University of Texas or some Ivy League School? Should I raise awareness for slave trafficking or lack of water in developing nations? There are many, many more questions that all young women should be asking themselves….

You can read his letter and some follow-up blogs here. But really, this trend is bigger than Victoria’s Secret. Intimate apparel for girls and women is a huge business, and numerous stores are trying to appeal to girls’ desires to look and feel older … and sexier.

How to Be a Good Dad Shape Your Daughters Self-ImageAre a lot of you dads like me? When my daughters were that age, the challenges were a bit different, but I wanted to slow them down and let them enjoy being kids while they could.

I have a teenage son, and I’m very uncomfortable with the thought that girls he interacts with could be embracing the notion that, as author Dr. Meg Meeker has written, “their identity equals their sexuality. But not even a healthy sexuality; rather a cheap one where girls are reduced to sexy playthings.”

Instead, she writes, “we want our girls to believe that their identity stems from their character, their uniqueness (not sameness), and their intellectual or physical achievements.”

What should we do as dads? Calling attention to the potential dangers is certainly appropriate, although it’s hard to see styles moving toward modesty and our fatherly definition of what’s proper for our daughters to wear. But no matter what, we should all be involved in addressing these issues with our daughters. Just a few months ago I wrote about daughters and clothing choices in this blog.

Really, we should be concerned about much more than our daughters’ outward appearance or undergarments. We have a huge influence on our daughters’ self-image, and there’s a very helpful section about this in our free ebook, 5 Things Every Child MUST Get from Dad.

That section opens with this statement: “Girls feel pressure to be smart, thin, pretty, and involved in certain activities. Dads have the ability to combat these pressures and make their daughters feel beautiful, inside and out.”

The practical suggestions include:

  • Never criticize your daughter’s body shape or appearance, but always affirm her as unique, beautiful and highly valued.
  • More important, compliment her positive non-physical qualities like emotional strength, sense of humor, loyalty, intelligence, and courage.
  • Get involved in her pursuits. Show that she is worth investing your time and energy.
  • Demonstrate confidence in her abilities.

Get your copy of the ebook here for more on each of these.

Before I share more action points, you have to see this video from a dad in Charlotte, North Carolina. His poem has lots of great insights that are relevant to this discussion on training, nurturing and protecting our daughters—and it will inspire you!

 

 

ACTION POINTS for Dads on the Journey – from the 5 Things ebook:

  • Write your daughter a letter listing specifically what you appreciate about her. If she’s too young to read it, save it until she’s older.
  • Be intentional about pointing out five or six of your child’s inner strengths over the next few days.
  • Try asking your daughter three questions that Diane Sawyer remembers her father asking her: “What do you love?” “Where is the most adventurous place you could do it?” “How can you use it to serve other people?”
  • Ask your daughter (or son) to teach you something he/she enjoys, and be committed to really learning it.

Help other dads! What has worked for you when it comes to affirming your daughter’s inner beauty? Please join the discussion by leaving a message either below or on our Facebook page.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.

 

What’s Your Daughter Wearing? Be a Good Dad and Get Involved

 

Last semester, a high school principal in Minnesota addressed a growing concern for school staff, and it should be a concern for dads as well. The principal, David Adney, sent an email to high school parents, asking them to remind their daughters to “keep covered up.” “We’re seeing too much,” he said.

Several of the school’s staff had raised concerns about girls “wearing spandex-like yoga pants or other tight-fitting leggings with T-shirts that expose ‘more leg and backside’ and can ‘be highly distracting for other students.’” He received numerous calls and emails of support from parents and others. You can read that news story here.

What’s Your Daughter Wearing? Be a Good Dad and Get InvolvedI, too, support his efforts. And for parents as well as teachers, it’s a constant battle to monitor what our children are wearing and what new styles they want to wear, and stay within the bounds of what’s appropriate.

Where do you draw the line with modesty? What is appropriate for your sons and daughters? Like many issues, different parents will draw the line in different places.

And some might consider this an issue for moms to handle with daughters—which it is—but we have to remember that we dads play an important role in modeling the kind of behavior our daughters should expect from young men. Dads, we have to get involved in teaching our children about the importance of modesty.

I have two adult daughters, so I’ve been through these battles, and though it wasn’t easy, our relationships survived! And I don’t know if there are any secrets other than simply being involved, watching what they’re doing, and building the kind of relationship where they respect your opinions and decisions, even when they disagree.

Challenge your kids to consider what they are advertising by their clothing choices. What does their appearance say about their character and what they stand for?

Make no mistake: it’s right for us to be sensitive in this area and be intentional about influencing our daughters toward modesty. We play a leading role in establishing and affirming our family’s values and standards—no matter what our culture may say is right or in style.

A dad we heard from named Chris is plugged into this challenge with his daughters. In his household, they’re also careful about buying their daughters clothes that have slogans or logos printed on them, because that can draw attention to places other than their faces. To some, that may sound extreme, but he’s clearly one committed dad who’s taking this issue seriously.

We dads also play an important role in modeling the kind of behavior our daughters should expect from young men, through the way we interact with them every day and on daddy-daughter dates.

Even though these aren’t always easy discussions, they can be done if we dads keep our cool and keep expressing concern instead of fear or anger. If we bring the right attitude, then our girls could actually enjoy spending that time and talking about this with us.

ACTION POINTS for Dads on the Journey

  • Take your daughter shopping—really! Learn about what she likes. And don’t be afraid to—calmly—give your input about what’s appropriate for a girl to wear. (Do the same thing with your son.)
  • With an older daughter, tell her exactly what a young man is thinking when he sees a woman in a revealing or suggestive outfit.
  • Talk to your daughters and sons about what a woman is saying when she flaunts her body. What kind of person is she trying to attract? What will that relationship likely be about? What outcomes are probable a few years down the road?
  • Another great topic for discussion: What’s the difference between inner beauty and outer beauty? How do you go about developing inner beauty?
  • Schedule that next daddy-daughter date or fun father-son activity.
  • With the common conflicts with teenagers—about dress, music, or whatever—ask yourself, “Is this a moral issue, or a matter of taste and preference?” Sometimes we need to flex on the minor concerns that are not moral issues.

We want to hear from you. How have you addressed standards of dress and fashion? What rules have you set with your kids? Please join the discussion below or on our Facebook page.

 

The 21-Day Dad’s ChallengeDuring the month of January, we’re offering a special price on our most recent book, The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge. It would be a great “challenge” to take in your fathering this year, and it’s perfect for men’s groups—especially in churches—with specific action points and follow-up activities for you and the other guys in your group. (There’s also find a free discussion guide you can download.) Now only $9.99 for orders in quantities of 3 or moreClick here to find out more and place your order.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.

Acceptance and Comfort: Be the Dad Your Daughter Needs

 

Dad, what would be your first words to your daughter if she lost something important? Or if she injured herself in a minor accident because she was being careless? Or she caused a fender-bender? Or she came to you and told you that she’s pregnant?

What would your first words be? Would they be comforting words, or words of anger, disappointment, and judgment?

This can apply to sons too, but we have heard about this one challenge especially from daughters around the country: They don’t feel comfortable talking to their dads about their problems because they are afraid of what their dads will say or do. They do not sense unconditional acceptance from their dads. If they make a mistake, daughters feel their dads will judge them and be disappointed, first and foremost.

Though high expectations are often appropriate, many times comforting a daughter is more important than driving home a point … or proving that you’re right.

You’ll have many other opportunities to teach your daughter about right and wrong—and it’s very likely she’ll learn a lot from a “crisis” on her own, without your lecture. But if your daughter comes to you with a problem, and especially if she has disappointed you in some way, your first priority should be to comfort her. Here are three ways to do that:

1. Allow her to express her feelings.
Even when your daughter has made a mistake, keeping your cool and refusing to overreact are important steps if you want to build a relationship that encourages your daughter to come to you and tell you whatever is in her heart or on her mind. The secret is to establish a relationship of acceptance during the day-to-day ups and downs of life with your daughter. Then, when a crisis occurs, she’ll be much more likely to reach for you.

2. Actively listen to her.
“Active” listening means that you use your ears, eyes, mouth, heart, and body language. You notice facial expressions and other non-verbal cues; demonstrate that you’re ready and eager to hear what’s on her mind; and you ask follow-up questions to make sure you understand. Your goal is to understand the deeper feelings she may be communicating behind the words she’s saying.

3. Respond with empathy.
Even though angry and judgmental words will likely come to mind, what your daughter really needs from you is compassion and support. Some difficult consequences may be appropriate for her actions, but make sure your first response conveys that your first concern is her physical and emotional safety and well-being.

I like the statement that my friend, NCF blogger Jay Payleitner, suggests in his book, 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad: Be ready for such occasions with a statement like, “I love you. It’ll be okay. We’ll get through this together.” Try it with your daughter next time you get the chance—then follow through and support her through whatever she may be facing. Whether it’s spilled milk, a broken window, or something much more significant, convince her over and over through your actions that you’re there to help her make things better.

When a child misbehaves or gets in a tough situation, a dad’s first reaction is often to try to fix the problem, launching into a lecture about what she should do, or what lesson she should learn. But if you simply express sadness about the situation and concern for what your child is going through, your daughter will know you are there for her. And that’s a great place to start as she faces whatever challenges come her way.

This week’s blog is adapted from our ebook, 5 Things Every Kid Must Get from Dad. (There’s a section about daughters and one about sons.) I urge you to download and read the entire thing right here. It’s filled with more practical ideas that will help you become a better dad, including more Action Points like these:

  • Ask your daughter: “Am I a good listener?” If she says that you are not, consider her answer a blessing. You can make some changes and build a stronger relationship with her.
  • Then ask: “How can you tell when I’m not really listening?” And, “How can I do better?”
  • Give your child lots of verbal affirmation every day. Express your love and point out her positive characteristics. In a difficult and confusing world, make sure she knows she always has you on her side.
  • During times when your children face failure or uncertainty, hold them close and whisper in their ear: “It’s gonna be okay. We’ll get through this.”
  • View your child’s challenges and behavior issues as opportunities to demonstrate your love for him or her through your comfort and forgiveness—even when there are tough consequences along with them.

What works for you—or what lessons have you learned the hard way—when it comes to comforting and supporting your daughter (or your son)? Please share your ideas and comments below or at our Facebook page.

See more articles on fathering daughters.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.