Originally Posted by Mike Young March 2007
I get some push back from time to time from fathers of daughters who say, “All you ever talk about is the father/son relationship. Are you ever going to talk about the father/daughter relationship?” First of all, I don’t make any excuses for focusing on fathers and sons, here’s why. First, I am a son so I have some experience there. Second, we have four children, the first three are sons… so my first fathering interest was in raising good Christian men. (Note I didn’t say Christian boys; we’ve got to see beyond the years of childhood and adolescence to what they will be like in adulthood.) But, just over two years ago… our very blue home got a dash of pink with the birth of Hannah Noel.
Now, I’m still unapologetically biased on the issue of raising sons because this is a ministry to, for and through men. Additionally, Stacy and I are praying that someone is raising a good Christian man for Hannah. Some of the information and encouragement I share about raising sons could impact the young man who I expect I will one day meet at the end of a church aisle. It is my prayer that his mother and father have built in to his life the way I am trying to build into the lives of my sons. My daughter is precious to me… so I have a vested interest in doing all I can to help other men raise a Godly husband for her and a great son-in-law for Stacy and me.
But, in the meantime what can I tell you about the father/daughter relationship? Well not as much as I’d like. Quite honestly, I think this relationship is just starting to come into clearer focus. I’m starting to find more and more resources that address the questions that fathers ask about how to invest in the development of their daughters.
Here are a couple of ideas that I have picked up in some reading… but the body of information and research related to the significance of the father/daughter relationship is growing rapidly.
From Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge… Little girls want to know, Am I lovely? The twirling skirts, the dress up, the longing to be pretty and to be seen – that is what that’s all about. We are seeking an answer to our question. When I was a girl of maybe five years old, I remember standing on top of the coffee table in my grandparents’ living room and singing my heart out. I wanted to capture attention – especially my father’s attention. I wanted to be captivating. We all did.
Little girls want to be thought of as lovely and beautiful… they seek approval and the primary person whose approval and attention they seek is Dad’s. If a daughter doesn’t have a healthy emotional connection with dad, they often seek out that approval in unhealthy relationships with other men… which often produce undesirable results.
Dad, find ways to connect with her so you can give her that approval she seeks. Work at it!
Here’s a quote from Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family by Steve Farrar, What most men don’t realize is how central they are to the development of their child’s sexual identity. If you don’t think your kids read you like a compass, then listen to the startling comment that Sueann Robinson Ambrom makes in her book, Child Development; “In gender role development, the evidence points to fathers as having the more important influence, not only in fostering a male self concept in boys, but femininity in girls…”
This doesn’t mean that moms aren’t a critical part of the development process. Without question, they are. But it is interesting to dig into this and understand that a daughter’s sense of femininity and modesty, much about her self confidence, her understanding of what a man should be and do and how a woman should be treated by a man… is determined primarily by her relationship with her father rather than her relationship with her mother.
So men, make sure you spend time with her. How about taking her out on a “date” regularly?
I’m on the lookout for more information and resources specifically concerning the father/daughter relationship and will share them with you as I encounter them. But for now, Men make sure you are emotionally connected with your daughters. Today’s culture will not teach them the values you want them to have!
Update: Check out these resources and recommendations 11 years later!