Being a parent is challenging in its own right but cultivating a long-standing positive daughter/daddy relationship can be daunting for even the most wonderful dad. Every father has fears that he won’t be a great dad, that he’ll mess it up somehow, and that seems to be magnified when dad is the father to a girl.
Unfortunately, the job doesn’t come with a set of simple instructions or a coveted manual to follow; however, here are some tips that might just help to get you nominated for “father-of-the-year”.
1. Love above all else. More than all the things that you will buy her, let her know that your love is priceless and comes first. You both will make mistakes on this life-time journey, but knowing that daddy will always be in her corner no matter what will help when the road gets bumpy. No one else can be dad. Let her know that love truly conquers all and you will always be there to give her yours.
2. You are setting the standard for her future partner. Scary thought, right? Well, this is true. The kind of man that you are in front of your daughter will have a direct impact on the type of man she chooses in the future. Realize that she is watching how you treat her mom and will immolate that behavior. One of the best things that you can do for your daughter is be the kind of man that you want her to spend her happily ever after with in the future.
3. Don’t retreat as she grows up. Just because she is getting older, doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need you to be front-and-center. We all know, the teenage years are an emotional roller-coaster but even when she rolls her eyes and puts up the “do not enter” sign on the door, go in anyway. Be engaged even more than you were before. Learn Snapchat, how to post on Instagram, Twitter, etc. Let her know that you are keeping up with the times for her and that you all are still in this thing together. Remember to be patient, this is definitely a time when your sense of humor will be tested.
4. Teach her to be tough—emotionally and physically. When you hit the gym, take your daughter with you. Teach her how to take health and wellness seriously. Let her watch football with you on Sunday and teach her how to do real push-ups. In an age where femininity is sometimes taken as a sign of weakness, let her know that it’s okay to be a princess but why not be one that wears a black belt. But also remember, that while you are helping her build her brawn, let her know how special she is, build up her sensitive side as well. Let her know that her heart is more beautiful than her outer appearance and what matters most is the kind of person that she is on the inside.
5. Make memories. Children grow up before you know it. Make memories with your daughter that she will remember and cherish when she is older. Have daddy/daughter date night, go to the movies, learn how to do her hair and nails, show up to her events, and yes, wear that “#1 Dance Dad” t-shirt that she bought you and cheer louder than anyone else. Listen to her music—make up your own version of Juju on that beat. She might get embarrassed, but she will love you for trying and it will definitely put a smile on her face. Fill up her journal with things that dad did. Don’t blink because before you know it, your little girl will not be so little anymore and will have a family of her own.