In this series, my intention is to help foster and nurture an open and profound bond between father and daughter, one that transcends the awkwardness of puberty. (I wrote about it in more detail here.) This post is about how to be a good dad; scratch that – it’s about how to be a wonderful dad.
I agreed that once a week I’d answer – honestly – any question my husband put to me. This is one of the most poignant questions he came up with:
Hubby: I want to be everything our daughters need in a Dad. I want to give them the best possible start in life, and I want to continue that forward. How can I be their hero?
Me: *Composes self* First of all, you’re already halfway there – wanting to be those things and acknowledging you have to work for them makes you a pretty special daddy. However, it’s essential that you’re aware of this very poignant truth:
You’ve got it wrong – because you will be their hero by default.
The real question would not be how can you be their hero, but how can you be a worthy hero?
So I’ve compiled a list for you of the things I believe will make you deserving of our daughters’ worship:
How to Be a Good Dad and A Wonderful Father
1. Respect Women
How you interact with women is going to be a blueprint for how our daughters allow men to treat them as they mature into young women. The more respectful they see you being towards women, the more respect they will command from the men in their lives, be they bosses, colleagues or partners.
You’re in the very privileged – and responsible – position of cultivating our daughters’ self-esteem, and having a direct impact on how assertive they grows up to be.
2. Tell Her You’re Proud of Her
This goes hand in hand with self-esteem. All children want to make their parents proud; but possibly none more so than the daughter of a father. If she feels good enough in her hero’s eyes, she will believe she is good enough for anyone else.
3. Give her Your Time
Nothing will tell Pixie and Elfin they’re worth your love more than the time you give them.
Yes, I’ve no doubt they will be more than content to accept financial benefaction from The Bank of Mum and Dad; but of far greater value are the hours you spend with them reading, playing, talking, supporting.
4. Encourage Her
If you tell her it’s worth it, she’ll believe you; if you tell her she can do it, she won’t give up trying.
5. Allow Her to Make Mistakes
Sometimes they won’t succeed. Sometimes they’ll make an error of judgement. They will need you then more than ever: to show them how to learn from the mistakes they makes, and to take lessons from those experiences. To grow as a person, gain wisdom, and do better next time.
But to flourish they need to know that though they may not always succeed, they will never be a failure to you.
With this knowledge, they will take opportunities and chances they are unsure of, which will in turn grow their confidence.
6. Tell her You Love Her
They need to hear this. It may be a given; it may be uncomfortable if you don’t have that type of relationship with your own dad. But this is non-negotiable in order for Pixie and Elfin to grow up feeling secure.
7. Show Her You Love Her – Unconditionally
Equally important is that they feel that love in your interactions with them – and that they rely on it absolutely.
There are situations where taking a relationship for granted is necessary, and none more so than for a child with their parent. Fostering that level of trust in them (with both you and I) will give us the best possible chance of them confiding in us about those issues we hope they never face…
And seeing that level of love reflected from us, even when they behave in ways more likely to evoke shame than pride, will also help teach them compassion for others.
8. Teach Her It’s Okay to Be Wrong
If we want our daughters to grow into well-rounded, respectable women, we need to let them see us make mistakes – and own up to them. Allowing Pixie and Elfin to see we’re fallible is how we can instil humbleness and humility in them; traits which will stand them in good stead for the future.
9. Show Her Your Weaknesses
As their daddy, our girls will view you as almost omnipotent. This is no bad thing while they are tiny, but as they develop into young ladies it’s a dangerous belief to hold on to.
In order to prepare them for the harsh realities of life, it’s crucial that they be allowed to see your weaknesses.
Though in many cases being strong is in itself a strength, there are some situations when vulnerability can be an asset – and the braver option.
10. Give Her Room to Grow
Our final job as Pixie and Elfin’s parents will be to teach them to spread their wings and step out of the comfort and safety of our metaphorical embrace, into the big wide world – alone. In the meantime, we can arm them with the tools to help them be successful, in every sense of the word.
But in the end it is ours not to confine them, but to set them free.
I take great delight, pleasure and pride in watching you with our daughters, and having no concerns about your ability to meet these daunting tasks. You are already a wonderful father, and I relish watching your relationship with our girls grow and develop alongside their milestones.
Like this? You can check out more of my hubby’s ponderings (and my attempts to answer them) here.