“Daddy Loves You” – The One Thing I’ll Never Stop Telling My Daughters

“A girl’s sense of self worth and personal dignity are directly linked to what she believes her father thinks of her.” – Dr. James Dobson

 

Some of our regular conversations around here:

 

AG: “Girls, guess what.”

She-Gables: “What?”

AG: “Daddy loves you.”

Goldilocks: “You always say that.”

COP: “…exasperated grunt…” (not very ladylike)

 

AG: “Girls, daddy heard a great story today.  Do you want to hear it?”

She-Gables: “Yeah!!!!”

AG: …dramatic pause…

AG: “Daddy loves you.”

She-Gables: “That’s not a story, silly Daddy.”

 

AG: “Girls, I heard the funniest joke today at work.”

She-Gables: “What is it?”

AG: “Alright, here goes.”

AG: “Daddy loves you.”

She-Gables: “Daddy! That’s not a joke.  You’re messing with us.”

 

 

I tell my daughters I love them a few dozen times a day.  They are reminded of this when they wake up and when they go to bed.  They hear it when we are in the car or when we sit down to dinner or just at random.  From the time each of them was born, the first thing to cross each of their ears was “Daddy loves you” and at any given time throughout the day, the last thing they will have heard me say is “Daddy loves you”.  At least for now, this is my mantra.

 

There are two books I recommend to every father who has a daughter, wants to have a daughter, or is about to have a daughter. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker is one (phenomenal book).  The other is Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson. In Dr. Dobson’s book, he writes about a group interview he had with a room full of college girls where they talked about their fathers.  One of the girls in the group said something that shook me right down to the ground. “It is essential that girls get affirmation from their fathers, because that’s something I didn’t experience growing up.  This is the foundation of all my insecurities – the feeling that I wasn’t really loved by my father.  It is the root of everything I’m dealing with.”

 

I read this book for the first time when my oldest was a year old.  This one theme has stayed with me.  It has kept me awake at night.  It has framed my reactions to everything.  The most fundamentally amazing part of being a girl dad is the monumental impact he has on the entirety of his daughter’s life.  For me, this was the realization that my words will echo in their ears for a lifetime.  Even after I am in the ground, the impact of the things I say to my daughters will outlive me.  Not only that, the absence of words I should have said will resound for generations.  This is no game.

 

In light of this, a father must approach his fathering with the end in his mind.  He must ask himself, “When my daughter is grown and she looks back on her relationship with me, what is the one thing I want her to feel about me?” The reality is that, whether I like it or not, she will have strong feelings about me either way.  She will either ache for affirmation from a man who was emotionally distant, or she will display that special kind of adoration only seen in the best of father daughter relationships.

 

This is where I fail, and fail with great vigor.  When I am grumpy and angry, when I am short with them, when I am sarcastic, when I am too harsh, too impatient, too critical, when I am lazy and cavalier with my words to these little girls…in these times, I unwittingly load them down with baggage they are not meant to carry.   So, I take every chance I can to say “Daddy loves you”.  It is my hope that these candid affirmations will follow them wherever they go.  And when they leave my house, they’ll say of me “That man had some major faults but he never let me forget that he loved me.  I couldn’t pass him in the hallway without him saying he loved me.  I can’t remember a single car ride where he didn’t say it.”  I hope when they remember all the “Daddy loves you”s, the load from the harsh words of my weakest times will lighten just a little.

 

Make a point today to tell you daughter you love her. Let’s not make her guess.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *