As you can imagine, when men hear that I specialize in the dad-daughter relationship, I often experience one of two things: 1) I’m asked challenging questions that come from deep places of confusion, hurt and/or frustration with his daughter…or…. 2) Proud fathers pull out their phones and show me heartwarming pictures of their girls (especially when looking at pics from when they were or are under the age of 10)
I’ll always remember the time I met a young dad who enthusiastically told me about his adorable 2½-year old daughter. His face lit up as he shared about his little treasure, one who clearly holds the key to his heart. When he found out that I’ve written books on this very subject, he leaned in and very intentionally asked, “In 20 seconds what advice can you give me as a dad to a daughter?” I didn’t hesitate for a moment.
Father-Daughter Relationship: How to damage your daughter in one easy step
“Make sure to always drop your anger and/or any emotions or expressions that communicate negativity towards her with your body language or tone of voice.”
I continued. “Anger is the number one way to hurt your daughter’s heart. So even when she pushes your buttons as she gets older, make a commitment not to respond in anger or frustration or disgust as a way to assert your power because it is the most effective way to destroy her and close her spirit.”
Though my 20 seconds were up, he was still listening. So I kept going.
“There are a couple of places in the Bible that say that it’s all about you as a dad being the first one to turn your HEART, not just your head, towards your daughter, especially if you want her to turn her heart towards you. In fact, God says that if the hearts of fathers don’t turn towards their children, He will come and strike the land with a curse. Pretty intense, eh?”
After our short conversation, I walked away and thought that perhaps my strong response was too negative. I wondered if it would have been better to have told him what to do instead of what not to do.
But on second thought, I recalled the numerous men I’ve spoken with over the last decade who have been way more interested in knowing how not to mess up as a dad with their daughters. I know you’re like those guys or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. And I also believe that you want to do it right and get it right and say it right.
Before we go any further, let me define my terms. By “anger responses or negative emotion/expressions” I am referring to the rolling of your eyes, gasping, intense/stern facial expressions, raising your voice, yelling, swearing, name-calling, throwing things, hitting (people or inanimate objects), inappropriate gestures, frowning, failure to make eye contact, lack of attentiveness, indifference….you get the gist!
Because your daughter longs for your approval, when you respond aggressively or negatively towards her, she’ll distance herself from you so she doesn’t feel like she’s a big disappointment to you.
That said, here are five main ways that a dad’s anger or negative emotions/expressions impact his daughter in one easy step:
- Your anger destroys her spirit
- Your anger shuts her down
- Your anger crushes the core of who she is
- Your anger causes her to give up
- Your anger makes her believe she is unloveable and unworthy and not worth loving
My belief is that every one of you dads wants the opposite of these five things when it comes to fathering your daughter. You want her to stay open in her spirit and live strong from her core. You want her to be all of who she is created to be while living from a deep knowledge that she is loved and worthy of being loved with the ultimate expression being that she is able to share her love with the world.
With that in mind, here’s the bottom line for you, dad: The only way your daughter will achieve this goal is for you to stay the course consistently, daily.
- Instruct her without anger (or negative responses)
- Discipline her without anger
- Dialogue with her without ange
- Disagree with her without anger
- Lead her without anger
Choose today to set a new course by determining that when you’re triggered you will walk away and get your feet back on the ground before responding. Of course, you are human, so when you’ve hurt her, humble yourself and make amends. Ask forgiveness (this is a heart healing, heart restorative move).