Last night I was asking my daughter (Caitlyn) about why she's been so distracted from her school work lately. With last week's nightmare of a science project over and done with, along with her and her mom's shouting matches regarding hypothesis and variables on substances and freezing water temperatures, I couldn't be more relieved. I mean, you would think they were trying to create cold fusion or clean energy or something. Normally, Caitlyn will bring home nothing but A's & B's but lately, with missed assignments and her grades slipping, I took the opportunity before she went to sleep to ask her, "What's going on?"
Finally, as she laid on her bed with tears streaming down her face she said, "Dad I'm angry"!! She continued to tell me how she's been experiencing some bullying at school through some of her guy and girl friends. Name calling, leg kicking, head flicking, strained relationships have left her, as she says, "feeling dumb & ugly". Coupled with, the last several weeks of feeling that her mom was being intense with her on her studies, it only amplified those negative feelings. It’s challenging to articulate the influence a father has on a little girl. How much of his attitude and actions toward her can determine her future relationships. Dad's, don't lose sight of the impact you have today on your daughter's future. Here are three things I've picked up on from experience, books, other blogs, etc... that I encourage you to focus on:
Love her mother
I took the opportunity to remind Caitlyn that her mom only wants whats best for her and that even though she may feel angry right now, that any anger towards her mom was misplaced and took the opportunity to point out some incredible things about Tiffany. Now, with a high divorce rate and equally high never-married-parent rate, I know not all couples are bound by love. However, this is one of the most important things any man can do, so guys, if you can't love her mother, find something to respect and admire in her anyway. And let me take it a step further, take care with what you say about women you work with, the women in your family, and even the woman driving the car in the next lane. Your daughter is listening...and your attitude about women is part of the attitude she's developing about herself.
We live in a culture where girls are highly insecure about their image. It isn't sexist when a father compliments on how his daughter dresses for school, combs her hair, move on the sports field, when they're sincere. Research shows that successful women have had fathers who were interested in their intellect and their academics. She needs you to celebrate her mind and hear your voice reminding her she's beautiful and valuable. If she can learn to believe you now then she'll believe it when her future husband tells her the same things. The more you affirm your daughters today (especially through puberty) the less they'll seek affirmation from other persons.
Set the standard
Believe it or not, you're the model for manhood your daughter is likely to look for when she starts to date. Be the husband you want her to have one day. If you want her to find someone who's loyal, honest, faithful, hardworking, wise with money, etc... then make no mistake you need to be that kind of man.