In recent weeks, several of our staff have been looking at ways to improve our fathering seminars and father-daughter events. The process has included survey requests to some of you, as well as interviews with partners, volunteers, and people who have attended these events.
Some eye-opening insights for us (and, we hope, for you) came from a young woman who had attended an event with her dad. In talking with her friends about their relationships with their dads, she summed up their comments this way: “All I know about my dad is that he’s in a suit and he’s successful.”
Her comment and many others we have heard confirm the need for a time for fathers and daughters to get away from their normal routines and seek to understand each other better. This daughter perceives that her dad has it all together, and their relationship doesn’t go much deeper than the surface. She really doesn’t know him well: she probably doesn’t know what drives him, his insecurities, what he values most, what his goals are or, significantly, what she really means to him.
“He’s in a suit and he’s successful.” That could have been an accurate description of the relationship between Joe and his daughter until they attended our Summit event last year in Texas. Joe wrote to us about his experience:
My oldest daughter and I enjoyed the Summit. This was a first for both of us to attend anything of this sort. One major eye-opener for me happened during the lunch break. While we were apart, we were instructed to write our daughters a letter. I wrote my daughter a letter about how she is beautiful, smart, talented, and a blessing to me. I filled the whole card! My daughter was excited to get hers.
[Then,], my daughter had a card for me! She wrote:
“Dear Dad, Thank you for making me be here cuz I have learned alot. And now I feel like I can talk 2 U about anything now. I am looking forward to do something 2gether again. Maybe next weekend or whenever. I just wanted 2 say that I love U and thank you for being there 4 me. Love ya!!! M.”
I cried. What else can I say. I simply cried. I’ll never lose or let anything happen to the card I received from my daughter. It is very special to me because it came from someone very special.
Dads, when we open our hearts to our children (especially our daughters), that’s often when they feel free to open up to us. Some amazing things can happen! In one of our essay contests, one girl wrote, “My dad holds the key to the unlocked door of my heart.”
- Take your daughter out for ice cream. Ask her questions about her favorite activities this summer, dreams she has, the upcoming school year, and so on. You answer the questions, too! (If you need more question ideas, get a copy of The Communication Game for Dads and Daughters.)
- Have an informal talk with your daughter about relationships, letting her know how guys typically think and react in situations.
- Ask your daughter for her perceptions of you: “What do you think is most important to me?” “What am I afraid of?” “Do you know what my goals and dreams are?” (Ask your son, too.)
- Write a short note to your son or daughter with an affirmation specific to his or her character.