By Brent Rinehart, Crosswalk.com
There’s a lot of pressure on fathers.
In an article for Huffington Post, Dr. Gail Gross writes, “Fathers are central to the emotional well-being of their children. Studies show that if your child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to your child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity.”
Whew. That’s a high-stakes assignment. Dads, we really need to get this thing right, seeing as how it can impact nearly every aspect of our kids’ lives.
The father-daughter relationship is particularly important. According to the Institute for Family Studies, well-fathered daughters are more likely to graduate from college, get higher paying jobs, are more self-disciplined and confident, and are less likely to become sexual active or pregnant in their early teenage years.
How do we even begin to ensure our daughters are “well-fathered”? Well, it begins with being present, physically and mentally. Beyond that, it takes being intentional. Sometimes, it may mean saying things to your daughter that she doesn’t want to hear or that go against the grain of society. As our daughters grow, it means “keeping it real” (do the kids still say that?) with them, as opposed to telling them what they want to hear or what their friends say.
Here are a few things I believe every daughter needs to hear from her father.
1. “Loving others is more important than being loved by others.”
The things that are a big deal to you now won't mean so much to you later. Trust me. Focus on things that will stand the test of time. Instagram likes may seem important, but they are meaningless. There’s nothing more important than being the type of person who cares about others. If you are that girl, I promise you that others will recognize and appreciate you for it.
2. “One seemingly small decision can change your life forever.”
Peer pressure is built on the false premise of something not being a big deal. Kids will try to convince other kids to do something they shouldn’t with phrases like, “no one will ever know” or “everyone is doing it.” You need to understand the significance of decisions you make in your youth. One act can have repercussions for decades, or change the course of your life forever. It’s only because of God’s grace that my life has turned out the way it has. Character and integrity matter. And, even if you make a choice you shouldn’t and it doesn’t harm anyone immediately, you still have to live with yourself for years to come.
3. “Your signs of affection – hugs and kisses – are yours.”
They are valuable. You decide when – and to whom – to give them. No one can decide that for you, and no one should pressure you. Remember this when you start dating, and look for a God-fearing young man who recognizes your value. Your love and trust is precious and should be earned.
4. “People are judgmental. And, most people are going to make assumptions about you based on how you look.”
It's not always right, but it is what it is. Keep that in mind when it comes to how you dress. I know you are always going to care about how you look, and that’s okay. But, just remember to do things for yourself, not to please others.
5. “Intelligence, confidence, self-assurance, compassion: these are the traits that define beauty.”
Don’t read silly magazines that claim to have all the “beauty secrets.” They are lying to you. They are “fake news.” There are no beauty secrets. You are already beautiful, inside and out. Just focus more on the “inside” part. I promise, you’ll be a better person for it. God gave you the ability to be a smart and confident young woman. God gives you opportunities to show compassion to others. Don’t waste time on the insignificant and neglect these opportunities.
6. “If God remains first in your life, you'll have fewer regrets when you get to be your dad’s age.”
I grew up in a Christian home. But, God wasn’t always first consistently in my life. As a result, I’ve made some bad choices along the way. I believe God turns messes into messages, but I would do anything to go back and do some of those things the right way. Don’t worry about all these things that seem important in your younger years. Just focus on God. Jesus himself tells us: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’… But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
A Prayer for Your Daughter
Father, thank you for my family. You’ve have blessed me so much, entrusting me to care for my children. Help me to be the father you have called me to be. Give me the strength to teach my daughter how to be the woman you have called her to be. Give me the courage to say the things she needs to hear, even if they are not the things she wants to hear. Give me wisdom to know what to say, and give her a tender heart to be receptive to her parents’ guidance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more atwww.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/shironosov