With this new 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.)
And in that spirit, I’ve agreed that once a week I will answer – honestly – any question my husband puts to me.
So, here’s what hubby has come up with for me this week…
Hubby: I want to be everything our daughter needs in a Dad. I want to give her the best possible start in life, and I want to continue that forward. How can I be her 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’re wrong – because you will be her hero by default; thus the real question is not how can you be her 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 daughter’s worship:
How you interact with women is going to be Pixie’s blueprint for how she allows men to treat her as she matures into a young woman. The more respectful she sees you being towards women, the more respect she will command from the men in her life, be they bosses, colleagues or partners.
You’re in the very privileged – and responsible – position of cultivating our daughter’s self-esteem, and having a direct impact on how assertive she grows up to be.
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.
Give Her Your Time
Nothing will tell Pixie she is worth your love more than the time you give her. Yes, I’ve no doubt she will be more than content to accept financial benefaction from The Bank of Mum and Dad; but of far greater value is the hours you spend with her reading, playing, talking, supporting.
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.
Allow Her to Make Mistakes
Sometimes she won’t succeed. Sometimes she’ll make an error of judgement. She will need you then more than ever: to show her how to learn from the mistakes she makes, and to take lessons from those experiences. To grow as a person, gain wisdom, and do better next time.
But to flourish she needs to know that though she may not always succeed, she will never be a failure to you.
With this knowledge, she will take opportunities and chances she is unsure of, which will in turn grow her confidence.
Tell Her You Love Her
She needs 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 to grow up feeling secure.
Show Her You Love Her – Unconditionally
Equally important is that she feels that love in your interactions with her – and that she relies 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 her (with both you and I) will give us the best possible chance of her confiding in us about those issues we hope she never faces…
And seeing that level of love reflected from us, even when she behaves in a way more likely to evoke shame than pride, will also help teach her compassion for others.
Teach Her It’s Okay to Be Wrong
If we want our daughter to grow into a well-rounded, respectable woman, we need to let her see us make mistakes – and own up to them. Allowing Pixie to see we’re fallible is how we can instil humbleness and humility in her, traits which will stand her in good stead for the future.
Show Her Your Weaknesses
As her daddy, Pixie will view you as almost omnipotent. This is no bad thing while she is tiny, but as she develops into a young lady it’s a dangerous belief to hold on to. In order to prepare her for the harsh realities of life, it’s crucial that she 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.
Give Her Room to Grow
Our final job as Pixie’s parents will be to teach her to spread her 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 her with the tools to help her be successful, in every sense of the word.
But in the end it is ours not to confine her, but to set her free.
I take great delight, pleasure and pride in watching you with our daughter, 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 Pixie grow and develop alongside her milestones.
Like this? You can check out more of my hubby’s ponderings (and my attempts to answer them) here.