As daughters grow, it’s common for the distance between fathers and daughters also to grow.
That was Alan’s concern when he contacted us recently. But Alan has done a great thing — he’s started having regular date nights with his 17-year-old daughter. He has felt distance in their relationship the past few years as his daughter becomes busier with school functions and an active social life. He asked for some fun ideas that don’t include watching TV or movies, and don’t involve hashing through heavy issues.
In many ways, we are our daughters’ “first love.” Whether they are teenagers or still very young, our girls are forming ideas about what they might want in a boyfriend and husband some day, and we are their closest examples and best points of reference. It’s vital that we teach them to have high standards for men and show them what it feels like when a man cherishes them genuinely and for the right reasons. Here are two practical suggestions (which can also be adapted for sons):
Find an activity she enjoys and sign up to do it together — ballroom dancing lessons or another evening class of some kind, or maybe a sport you could do together, like volleyball or tennis. (Check your local Parks and Rec. department.) Just make sure it’s something she is interested in and will look forward to, even if it requires you to stretch a bit and learn something new.
As you do these activities, don’t forget: it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Open doors for her. Tell her she looks nice. Give her a small gift — even a candy bar or a single daisy — to show you thought about her and went out of your way for her. Share something positive about your day. She’ll remember those things, and it will draw her closer to you.
- Every day, be a strong example of honor and respect for women in the way you speak and act and the way you serve your wife selflessly. (Sons really need this too.)
- Talk to your daughter about the mysterious “world of boys.” Make sure she gets the straight facts about what makes guys tick, what they’re thinking about in certain situations, and what integrity looks like in a young man.
- Explain the concept of “listening to your gut” to your child. If she finds herself in a situation that just doesn’t seem right, she should pay attention to that feeling and get out of there.
- Take your child to a local fishing and hunting store that has a laser shooting gallery. Your daughter might surprise you and really enjoy it.
- Attend a music recital or concert with your child at a local college — especially if you can find one featuring an instrument that she’s learning to play. (You’ll probably get in for free.)