I’ve heard it said that a lot of men do best when they’re challenged. And not just challenged to do something that could be possible, but dared to do something BIGGER and HARDER than they could ever imagine doing.
Case in point: I watched a documentary awhile ago where men voluntarily attended a week of grueling military boot camp, paying large sums of money to be pushed past their limits. Why did they do it? They said it was simply to prove that they could.
A question comes to mind as I see men who are willing to go the distance physically:
Would they be equally responsive to opportunities to prove that they can push past their limits in something potentially more important, that of pursuing and engaging their daughter’s heart?
I understand that it’s often confusing, exhausting, and downright frustrating to figure her out as she matures (hence my reason for talking about this as a challenge that pushes you beyond your limits … a lot!). Yet she needs you, dad, to hang in there as a fully engaged father throughout her entire lifespan—and even through the confusing times.
So right here, right now, I am counting on the fact that you as a dad, with this specific challenge, will rise to the occasion—or will keep rising to the occasion—to prove your commitment to fatherhood. And so I offer you both a truth and a dare:
Commendable men take the initiative to invest in their kids, accepting challenges even when it means sacrificing their own comfort, needs, and personal agenda.
Take your daughter on a date—a scheduled time where just the two of you can talk freely and openly and where you are investing in her with your time, money, energy, and focus. During the date, ask her three of the most important questions you could ever ask her.
But first, let her know that you won’t get offended or angry (at least not outwardly) no matter what she tells you. Assure her that you want her honest feedback so you can be the best dad you can be to her.
One other thing: If your daughter (or son, should you choose to do this with him, too) does better expressing her thoughts and feelings in writing, she may prefer to write her responses to you. That can work too, just make sure you talk about it with her later. Having the conversation in person may be hard, but it’s really powerful when you add your voice to the mix.
Dad, if you’re willing to accept the challenge, then here goes. Here are three questions to ask your daughter … if you dare:
1. On a 0 to 10 scale (10 being best), what rating would you give me as a dad?
2. What are three things I’m doing as your dad that make you feel like I’m on your side and supportive of you?
3. What could I work on to be a better dad to you? (These last two words are key because, as you know, each one of your kids has unique wiring and therefore needs you to individually pace with him or her.)
So there they are: three of the most important questions you might ever ask your daughter.
Prove to yourself today that you’re a proactive dad who initiates by starting the daring conversations with your daughter. It can all start by courageously challenging yourself to ask these three simple questions.
Ready? Call or text your daughter right now to set a time for your dad-daughter date.
More from Michelle: Questions to Help You Make Amends with Your Daughter
Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield is a licensed professional counselor in Portland, Oregon, 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 in Portland 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.