With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, here’s a reminder that the holiday isn’t reserved only for romance between sweethearts. It’s also an opportunity for a girl to be treated in an extra special way by her dad, thus creating a model for future comparison so she’ll know how she should be treated when the love of her life comes knocking!
I want to help you celebrate with your daughter in a way that highlights the power of a heart connection. If you aren’t feeling that kind of connection with her right now, these can help you move things in that direction.
Twelve roses can be a great gift that makes her feel special and loved, but this year I encourage you to choose 12 things that you can do for her or with her that let her know that she’s worth celebrating.
This February 14th (or another day close to it) can be the start of a new tradition where you give your time, energy, and creativity to communicate, “You’re my valentine.”
Have fun being resourceful in ways that require ingenuity, patience, a servant’s heart, and a good dose of humor.
See below for a dozen ideas to help you win her heart anew this Valentine’s Day. Start with one and then follow up with another next week or next month—or if you’re reading this blog at a different time of year, start with one this weekend.
(Incidentally, you’ll notice that none of these things cost money; instead of asking you to dig into your wallet, they might require you to dig deeper inside yourself. And as always, if you have a son, these ideas would be easy to adapt and use with him.)
1. Do something fun that involves the two of you enjoying an activity together—walking, running, biking, shooting hoops, kicking a ball, playing a board game, etc.
2. Let her teach you something she’s good at and you’re not—baking, cooking, doing an art project, coloring, talking!
3. Write a letter telling her the qualities that you love, admire, respect, and want to reinforce in her. For extra credit, read the letter to her. I guarantee this will be something she will treasure for the rest of her life.
4. Step out of your comfort zone and invite her to dance with you to one of her favorite songs. If she declines, don’t feel bad; she won’t forget that you asked.
5. Listen for ten uninterrupted minutes while practicing active listening skills. Look at her while she talks, nod your head to show you’re interested, lean forward, ask questions to encourage her to talk more. (Yes, you read that right!)
6. Share three stories from your childhood that you’ve never told her before. Of course, ask her beforehand if she’d like to hear them since some girls like hearing stories more than others.
7. Serve her in a way that is unexpected and out of the ordinary. Fix something that’s broken, run an errand so she doesn’t have to, make her bed for her, or do one of her chores as a surprise gift to her.
8. Ask if you’ve hurt her in some way and then seek forgiveness after hearing the whole story. You might follow the lead of one dad who asks his five-year old daughter a question every night as he tucks her into bed: “Has Daddy been sharp with you today?” This allows him to hear about her hurts and repair them one day at a time, and it has made him much more sensitive to her throughout the day.
9. Surf the internet with her and find funny videos that make you both laugh.
10. Take selfies of the two of you putting random things on your heads, then post them on both of your social media feeds with silly captions and the hashtag #daddaughterselfie.
11. At any time of day, make a breakfast food that she loves—pancakes, waffles, an omelet, cereal—and eat it with no hands, creating an experience that is sure to make a lasting memory! (Idea credit to Garth Brooks, who led his daughters to do this with him during their growing up years, now inspiring others to follow his lead.)
12. Watch one of her favorite television shows or movies with her and enter into it in a way that enhances the experience for her—no making fun of anything she likes. Offer to pop popcorn or dish up ice cream to make things extra fun and memorable.
Dad, this year why not give your daughter a new kind of Valentine gift?
… one that requires your full attention and your whole heart?
I’m convinced that she’ll feel loved by you in a new way as you give more of yourself than money can buy. I believe this has the potential to be better than a dozen roses as this forever memory will last a lifetime!
Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield is a licensed professional counselor, founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum for dads of daughters (ages 13 to 30), and author of Let’s Talk: Conversation Starters for Dads and Daughters and Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart (both available on Amazon and Audible). She also hosts a weekly radio program called “The Dad Whisperer,” which you can access as a podcast on her website and on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play Music. Visit drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.