Recently, we interviewed 33 young women (ages 13-24) who have attended one of our father-daughter events. Among other questions, we asked them, “What questions could your dad ask you to demonstrate that he really cares about what’s going on in your life?” Their most common responses fell into four categories:
First, daughters desired a daily review. They wanted to be asked questions like: “What happened at school today?” “What are your favorite and least favorite things going on right now?” “What are your friends up to today?” “What’s frustrating for you right now?” Daughters feel cared for when their dads make an effort to connect to their everyday world. One young lady added, “After asking how my day went, it helps if he maintains eye contact and waits for the answer.”
Second, daughters wanted their dads to ask specific questions about the boys or young men in their lives. “How old is the guy you want to go out with?” “How are guys treating you at school?” “Are you being pressured sexually by any guy?” “How is your love life or lack of a love life?” One daughter elaborated: “Dad kind of assumes everything is going well and he rarely asks questions about my guy friends.”
Third, daughters hoped their dads would ask questions which had emotional implications. These included questions like: “Do you know how much I love you?” “How are you doing lately as far as emotional stuff?” “Are you upset about anything?” “How are you feeling?” These questions suggest that a dad should be able to emotionally track with his daughter.
Lastly, ask questions related to their future and their faith. Daughters wanted their dads to ask them: “What are your goals?” “What are you thinking about your future?” “What is God showing you?” “How are your spiritual life, your quiet times and your relationship with God?” One girl commented, “I like it when my dad digs deep and asks me specific questions about faith and my future.”
Dads, you may not be at a point where you can start asking your daughter these types of questions. If you aren’t, spend more time with her and start with some of the simpler questions I have listed below until deeper questions are more appropriate.
It’s amazing some of the things we will commit to memory—like key stats for a sports team, the lyrics of an old song or words of a famous leader. But how many of us can answer even simple questions about our children, who are as important to us as anyone or anything in our lives? Building on the questions above, here are some of our all-time favorites. These questions will help you explore new territory with your child.
- Who is your all-time hero?
- What is your most prized possession?
- What is your favorite meal?
- Who’s your best friend?
- If you had $20 to spend, what would you buy?
- What would you like to do when you grow up?
- What do you most like to do with me?
- What causes you to lose sleep?
- What were your greatest achievements and disappointments in the last year?
- What’s one area in which I can support you in the next six months?
Even for connected fathers, these questions can serve as a wake-up call. Our time with our children is short and we can’t miss an opportunity to sit down and find out more about what makes them tick.
Discussion/Reflection Questions & Action Points
- Is it easy to talk with your daughter? Try scheduling some regular one-on-one outings with her with no agenda, just having fun together.
- Whenever you’re about to ask her a question, pause and ask yourself, “Is this something she can answer in one word or some other short response?”
- What are your hopes for her romantic relationships? What are hers? Have you talked about that with her?
- How would you describe your emotional connection with your daughter? It may not be easy to ask emotion-related questions, but you can’t move the relationship in that direction until you try it.
- Do you have a good sense of the role faith plays in your daughter’s life? What are your hopes in that area?
- Come up with some brief thoughts about the bright future you see for her, then find a time to tell her as a blessing.
- Talk about a few of the questions in the list above, and make sure YOU answer them too.