Insights Straight from Girls by Michelle Watson Canfield, PhD, LPC
Dads, I’m here to give you an all-access pass behind the curtain of a girl’s heart from the vantage point of a few courageous girls who shared their thoughts.
Romance and royalty.
I wonder what it is about these two concepts that strike a chord in most every girl regardless of her age, locale, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. These themes are woven through the deepest places of her heart, tied together with a cord of vulnerability that is beautiful and fragile all at the same time.
Perhaps some of the reason that we girls are drawn to romance and royalty is because we were created that way, at the place where we long to open our hearts and lives to both of these realities.
We seem to have this intense, legitimate longing for the world to see that we’re valuable and amazing, and we think that if we are chosen by a guy or if we have an official title (“girlfriend,” “wife,” etc.), then it announces to everyone that we are worthy and incredible. This innate desire to be chosen by the handsome prince is a theme that is usually awakened in childhood and then grows in intensity as we age.
You see, somewhere along the line we have come to believe that if a guy picks us as his girlfriend, and later his wife, then we are the prize, his prize.
Romance & royalty are woven thru the deepest places of your daughter’s heart.
I want you now to hear from girls who are between the ages of 13 and 30 as they give you a glimpse inside their minds and hearts on this theme of romance and royalty. This will not only give you insight into what your daughter may be thinking and feeling, but you can use these questions to open up deeper conversations with her. (And all husbands would be wise to keep these insights in mind with regard to their wives, too.)
Question #1: What messages about being a girl, and being pretty or beautiful, have you gleaned from the movies you’ve watched?
- “If I’m not a size two in stilettos and a pencil skirt, will I still find the perfect man?”
- “I learned that you had to be physically beautiful to obtain those princess dreams.”
- “It seems that being pretty or beautiful is a necessary trait of being viewed as a princess. Movies tend to portray that the beautiful ones are the ones who get pursued and are desired.”
- “Being pretty is very important. It takes you a distance in life. It’s not fair, but it’s true. Being feminine is beautiful and valuable.”
- ”You have to be able to sing and dance well. The usual, like you have to be skinny and beautiful and kind to everyone. And that you need a man to save you (totally kidding on that last part, but that is kind of what Disney movies teach).”
- “Girls have to dress provocatively or scandalously in order to catch a man’s attention – showing more skin is good. I don’t like that idea, and try my best not to conform to it … but it does make me wonder if those portrayals are a reality.”
Question #2: Can you think of any way that your dad could make you feel more like royalty, like a princess?
- “Maybe reach out to see how I’m doing more consistently instead of the other way around.”
- “I think one of the biggest things is that he helps me to see my strength, my beauty, my talent, my uniqueness, and that he shows me that I am a woman to be cherished and pursued by doing just that.”
- “Anything my dad does to just let me know he is thinking about me or wants to spend time with me means a lot and makes me feel honored, like a princess.”
- ”Maybe talking to me would be a good start.”
- “I want to exchange ideas and learn from him.”
Question #3: If your dad was to fill up your love tank—making you feel loved and special and accepted and enjoyed—what could he do specifically to make you feel those things now?
- “Laugh out loud more. My dad has so much stress and so I try and make him laugh. He might smile, but when he laughs I do feel special and that he enjoys me.”
- “Embrace my individual attributes. I don’t want to be like anyone else and you don’t want a robot for a daughter.”
- ”Don’t tell me what not to do. Positive reinforcement is so much more effective.”
- “To hear him say that I’m beautiful would be great. I’ve never heard him remark on my appearance in a positive way.”
- “Encourage my dreams—no matter how outlandish, or even if it’s not the dream you have for me.”
- “He always seems too busy with his laptop or his cell phone to enjoy a conversation with me. He’s a great listener, but I wonder if he just does it so I’ll eventually shut up. When I try to ask about him, he doesn’t want to talk about it. I’d love for him to open up about his life in an honest and real way. I want him to be present.”
- “Talk to me, encourage me to seek my passions without dampening the vision with too much practicality.”
- “I think the best a dad could do is to verbally express what he thinks of his daughter (whether that is internal beauty or external beauty).”
- “The only thing that I can think of is accepting me completely as I am … flaws and all.”
- “Just to hear his honesty about what he thinks about me and when he thinks about me makes me feel all of those things.”
- “He could just out of nowhere, and for no reason send a little letter or note or message saying that he loves me, thinks I am special, accepts me and enjoys who I am.”
Summing up, your daughter longs to be:
Chosen Accepted Wanted Desired Loved
Pursued Enjoyed Special Unique
The ways you can make her feel all those things are to:
- Initiate dates (one-on-one time with her).
- Protect and shield her heart (allow her to feel/talk while listening and supporting her).
- Affirm her beauty (compliments, validating her unique look and style).
- Regularly choose her over sports, work, hobbies, technology (a.k.a. distractions).
- Embrace her femininity (show and express your happiness in her as your daughter).
- Treat her with respect, chivalry, honor (be the man you want her to marry).
- Enjoy her (laugh with her, listen to her, celebrate her interests and giftings).
- Enter into adventures with her (join in mutual activities where bonding happens).
- Every day, let her know she’s beautiful, smart, and wonderful just the way she is.
Guys, these kinds of actions don’t have to be saved for Valentine’s Day. Let your daughter experience what it’s like to have her heart engaged while feeling like a princess because of the best guy on the planet: YOU!
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.