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I was in a room with a bunch of men. To be honest, I can’t remember why we were there or who all was present. But I’m glad I was there. One young dad asked a question of Sheldon, one of the older men in the room. He asked, “My daughter is getting older and she’s starting to develop physically. But she still wants to sit on my lap and hug me. Is that ok or should I be trying to stop her?”
I know other dads had the same question, because the room got real quiet. My own daughter was just a young girl, but rumor had it she was going to eventually grow up. So I listened!
“NO!” His forcefulness caught many of us off guard. There was no hesitation. There was no wavering. He was adamant. As our daughters grew up, they would be self-conscious enough about their own bodies. The last thing they needed was to have their father, the most important man in their life, pulling away from them right when they are feel the most insecure about who they are.
The next thing he said, he did so while wildly gesturing. He was poking himself in the chest and grabbing his own arms and saying, “Besides this is how she can appropriately learn about men. You feel differently than she does.” His next statement sealed the deal for me. “Do you want her finding some other man to teach her about men?”
I have six daughters of my own. I have been a surrogate dad for many other young women. I realize it’s a little more complicated than simply hugging your daughter. But dads, there are conversations and acceptance your daughter needs, only you can deliver! What a privileged place.
Here’s what I’ve tried to do (and not very well at times) to live out the lessons I learned that day.
- Date my daughters – my goal has always been one date a month per daughter. I have rarely lived up to that goal. But they have been such wonderful and rich times together. We don’t always talk about serious matters, but it’s always fun.
- Stay engaged physically – as my daughters developed physically, I made it a point to never pull away. I tried my best to send the message, “I’m so glad God created you a woman and you are way more than just a body.”
- I became a student – I was clueless about girls and their development. So I learned. I read books like “Preparing for Adolescence” by James Dobson. A great book for dads with daughters is “Strong Fathers Strong Daughters” by Dr. Meg Meeker.
- I gave my wife permission to help me – rather than consider it nagging, I invited Kelli’s help. I’d come home and she’d tell me, “Your daughter needs time with you.” Rather than taking it as a personal attack, I said thank-you. My theory is Kelli knows a little more about being a woman than I do!
Make sure your little girl hears you say this with your words and with your deeds, “There is no man on earth that loves you as much as I do!” Did you date your daughters? Or did your daddy date you? We’d love to hear from you.
Also, you are going to see some changes in our blog and website in the next couple of days.