Daughters and the Power of Listening

When dads and daughters get together and focus on each other, good things happen.

We saw it over and over years ago when we hosted father-daughter events all over the country, and it’s a big reason why we’re starting them up again. We heard incredible stories of increased awareness, renewed relationships, and dads’ hearts turned to their daughters in new and deeper ways.

One such story comes from a dad we’ll call “Scott.” He had a great relationship with his older daughter, but connecting with his younger daughter “Emily” had been more challenging. He knew there were areas where he needed to improve as a dad, but he took pride in being involved in his kids’ lives and it was frustrating to feel more distance with Emily. He signed them up for our Father-Daughter Summit hoping it might help their relationship, and it did … in an unexpected way.

Scott was surprised by something Emily shared during one of the daddy-daughter dialogues.

She felt like he didn’t really listen to her.

It was difficult to hear and it hurt his feelings, but instead of retreating or getting defensive, he took a proactive approach. Right then and there, the two talked about how they could do better and they set goals for improving their relationship. They made a commitment to spend undistracted time together each week—fifteen or twenty minutes, or sometimes more. They’d focus on each other, and he would really listen to her.

We all know how sometimes commitments like this get put off in the busyness of life, especially when we’re talking about a teenage girl and her dad. But that didn’t happen here. They followed through every week, and often twice a week, for years.

As you would expect, this had a great impact on their relationship. The distance dissolved and they soon became very close. Today, Emily is married and has her own children. But still, once or twice a week, she has that appointment on the phone with her dad. They catch up on things, share life, and he gives blessings and instills confidence in her.

Now, do you think Scott has learned a thing or two about the power of listening to his child? For him, it took a surprising, slap-in-the-face comment at our Summit event.

What will it take for you?

Do you really listen when your kids are talking? Are you usually preoccupied? Or do you figure out where the conversation is going and give a canned reply? Maybe you need to ask your kids that question: “Am I a good listener?

If you get an answer that feels like a slap in the face, consider it a blessing. Then, like Scott, make some changes and build a stronger relationship with your child. Or maybe it’s worth traveling with her to one of our upcoming Summit events or being part of a team to help bring one to your community.

Check out more of the feedback we received about the Father-Daughter Summit, like these comments from daughters:

“I didn’t know how special I was to my dad.”

“I finally connected with my stepdad.”

“We bonded.”

“I forgave my dad and I’m ready to move on.”

“I actually enjoyed spending time with him.”

“I gained understanding about how my dad affects my relationships to other boys.”

And here are more remarks from other dads:

“We got beyond the superficial.”

“It was a kick in the pants that I needed.”

“The daddy/daughter dialogue is a forum I will use again.”

“It put my daughter in the driver’s seat. She talked and I listened.”

Is it time to spend a few minutes or even a whole day focusing on your daughter? Fathering a daughter can be tough, especially a teenage daughter, and sometimes we need help connecting with them in positive ways. Maybe it’s time to break up your current routine and create a better relationship.

What’s your biggest challenge as a girl dad? Leave your feedback and interact with other dads at our Facebook page.

Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  • Do you have a son? He also needs you to tune in and listen to him, although it might look different with him.
  • How would your daughter describe your relationship right now? Ask her.
  • What’s the best memory you have with her? Share your thoughts with her and ask what she remembers.
  • What’s a memory you have when you “blew it” with her? Have you apologized and asked for her forgiveness?
  • Start a regular habit of one-on-one time with your daughter, with phones and devices off (unless you’re using them to talk). Put it on both of your calendars and include an occasional daddy-daughter date night or a weekend getaway.
  • What do you hope your relationship with your child looks like 10 or 15 years from now, and what do you need to change to move in that direction?

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.

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