With Valentine’s Day coming up soon, I figure there’s no better way to celebrate the holiday than to highlight the power of a heart connection from a dad to his daughter. And though some may view this day as one reserved only for romance between sweethearts, I see it as an opportunity for a girl to be treated in an extra special way by her dad, thus creating a model for future comparison so she’ll know how to be treated when the love of her life comes knocking!
Rather than give her 12 roses to let her know she’s loved by you this year, why not instead choose 12 things that you can do for her or with her that let her know that she’s worth celebrating?
This 14th of February can be the start of a new tradition where you give your time, energy, and creativity that says, “You’re my valentine.” Incidentally, you’ll notice that none of these things cost money. They’re going to require that you dig deeper inside yourself than into your wallet.
Have fun being resourceful in ways that require ingenuity, patience, a servant’s heart, and a good dose of humor. Here are a dozen ideas to help you win her heart anew this Valentine’s Day:
- Do something fun that involves the two of you enjoying an activity together —walking, running, biking, shooting hoops, kicking a ball, playing a board game, etc.
- Let her teach you something she’s good at and you’re not —baking, cooking, doing an art project, coloring, talking!
- Write a letter telling her the qualities that you love, admire, respect, and want to reinforce in her —for extra credit, read the letter to her and I guarantee this will be something she will treasure for the rest of her life.
- Step out of your comfort zone and invite her to dance with you to one of her favorite songs —if she declines, don’t feel bad; she won’t forget you asked, even if she says “no.”
- Listen for ten uninterrupted minutes while practicing active listening skills —look at her while she talks, nod your head to show you’re interested, lean forward, ask questions to encourage her to talk more (yes, you heard me right!).
- Share three stories from your childhood that you’ve never told her before —of course you’ll want to ask her if she’d like to hear them since some girls like hearing stories more (or less) than others.
- Serve her in a way that is unexpected and out of the ordinary—fix something that’s broken, run an errand so she doesn’t have to, make her bed for her, do one of her chores as a surprise gift to her.
- Ask if you’ve hurt her and then seek forgiveness after hearing the whole story —and/or follow the lead of one dad who has makes a practice of asking his five-year old daughter a question every night as he tucks her into bed, “Has Daddy been sharp with you today?” This allows him to hear the hurts and repair them one day at a time.
- Surf the internet with her and find funny videos that make you both laugh
- Take selfies of the two of you putting random things on your heads with silly captions to then post on her social media sites with the hashtag #daddaughterselfie
- Go through your kitchen and at any time of day make a breakfast food that she loves—pancakes, waffles, omelet, cereal—and eat it with no hands, creating an experience that is sure to make a lasting memory! (Idea credit: Garth Brooks, who led his daughters to do this with him during their growing up years, now inspiring others to follow his lead).
- Watch one of her favorite television shows or movies with her…and enter into it in a way that enhances the experience for her —no making fun of anything she likes and offer to pop popcorn or dish up ice cream to make things extra fun and memorable.
Why not give your daughter a new kind of Valentine gift this year that requires your full attention and whole heart?
I’m convinced that she’ll feel loved by you in a new way as you give more of yourself than money can buy. I believe this has the potential to be better than a dozen roses as this forever memory will last a lifetime!
Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon and has served in that role for the past 18 years. She is founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to dial in with more intention and consistency, and has recently released her first book entitled, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart. She invites you to visit www.drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs where she provides practical tools so that every dad in America can become the action hero they want to be and their daughters need them to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drmichellewatson and Twitter @mwatsonphd.