Articles for Fathers

Everything listed under: father-daughter

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    Ways for Dad to Connect with Kids

    Wondering how you can connect with your kiddos? Here's a list to get you started!

    • Plan a regular time for Daddy/Child date to do something fun and adventurous.
    • Write a short message to them on a stick-it note and hide it in their lunch.
    • Let your child help you wash the car or fix something.
    • Play a game with them - one that they want to play.
    • If you like to cook, let them help you.
    • Take them to the park.
    • Teach your child how to do something like build a kite, a soapbox derby car, a paper airplane, etc.
    • Tell them what life was like when you were their age.
    • Listen to them - learn about their favorite things, who their friends are, their favorite game, etc.

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    Fathering is Child's Play

    A young girl was touring the social worker through the home she shared with her father. When she came to her bedroom, she proudly showed the woman everything in her room. With big eyes and a huge smile, the little girl asked, “Would you like to see bombs away?”

    Hesitantly, the social worker said yes. “Come on Dad, let’s show her,” said the little girl.

    Dad came over to the bed, grabbed his daughter’s arms and legs and started swinging her. Finally, he let go as she yelled, “Bombs away!” and landed on her bed. Loud, gleeful laughter followed.

    Looking horrified, the social worker said, “Stop! No! You should not be doing that.” Both father and daughter looked at her with troubled and quizzical faces and said, “We shouldn’t be doing bombs away?”

    “This is probably one of the best examples of the difference in how men and women view play with children,” said Dr. Ron Klinger, founder of the Center for Successful Fathering and author of The Common Sense No-Frills, Plain-English Guide to Being a Successful Dad.

    “Researchers tell us that children of all ages from infants to high school prefer play with dad over mom because it is unpredictable, physical, rough, dad cheats, and it’s fun. It is a test – it stretches you. You find yourself doing things you would never do. Most importantly, it is a playful form or preparation for the challenges our children will face in the real world.”

    Klinger contends that what the father was doing with his daughter was totally appropriate. While mothers are the initial primary caregivers and continue to be the nurturers and protectors, it is the father’s job to engage his children in rough and tumble play and to encourage them to take risks.

    However, the challenge for many is that nearly 80 percent of dads today did not grow up with an actively involved father in their lives. When moms say, “Don’t play so rough,” most guys don’t know to say, “But this is what I am supposed to be doing.”

    “The bonding with a child and their father is based on this rough and tumble play,” Klinger said. “This playful interaction turns out to be very powerful in teaching independence, self-reliance and courage. It also encourages children to become more tolerant of frustration. The father is introducing the child to a world that is defined by adventure and adversity, not comfort.”

    There are other benefits of rough and tumble play for children, too. They include:

    • Building a bond of affection and trust with their father;

    • Exposure to personal challenges such as riding a bike;

    • Learning to be a successful risk-taker;

    • Building self-confidence;

    • Girls growing up to be unintimidated by competitive men; and

    • Becoming resilient.

    “When a mother approaches her child, the infant’s heart rate begins to slow down,” Klinger said. “When a father approaches his child, their heart rate begins to race in anticipation of excitement and action. Babies need this to stimulate brain activity. 

    “I can remember when my own son would climb our spiral staircase and leap out to me below. The space separating us was only a couple of feet, but he was jumping from seven feet high. He was investing a huge amount of trust in me. Admittedly, this is the kind of thing that drives mom nuts, yet it's exactly what dads and children should be doing. Play is the antidote for anxiety.”

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    7 Tips for Dads of Daughters

    Joe Kelly knew his life would change when his twin daughters were born. He understood that he was stepping into a very important role as their father. What he didn't count on was the dramatic impact these girls would have on him as a man and their father.

    “The uniqueness of the father-daughter relationship can deeply enrich a man’s life,” says Kelly, first and foremost the father of twin daughters, and head of the national non-profit organization Dads and Daughters. He also wrote Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter When She is Growing Up So Fast.

    “Every single one of us grew up a boy. Sometimes that is a hurdle and sometimes it is an advantage. All of the time, it is a chance to grow in unique ways. Through our daughters, we can start to see and experience the world differently.”

    When his daughters were older teenagers, Kelly began reflecting on how much having daughters changed his life. He was curious to know if any other men shared this experience, so he interviewed a diverse group of men. He was actually surprised by how much they had in common.

    Kelly recognized that he had to be very aware of how he lived his life. He began thinking about the messages he was sending verbally and his actions.

    “You can tell your daughter she can be anything she wants to be,” Kelly says. “But if you then turn around and pick up a Playboy you may as well have saved your breath because your actions speak louder than your words. It is how I treat my daughter’s mother and the other women in her life and in the world that send a powerful message to my daughter and my son.

    "If a boy grows up believing that the size of a woman’s cleavage is more important than the size of her heart, he's on the road to disaster. As a man and father, I can help my daughters understand that it is not about looks; it is about what you are capable of accomplishing in life.”

    Research has shown that girls with involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally and physically healthier and more well-rounded. Dads and Daughters suggests these tips for fathers to inspire, understand and support their daughters:

    • Listen to girls. Focus on what is really important – what does your daughter think, believe, feel, dream and do- rather than how she looks.

    • Encourage her strength and celebrate her savvy. Help your daughter learn to recognize, resist and overcome barriers. Help her develop her strengths to achieve her goals.

    • Respect her uniqueness. Urge her to love her body and discourage dieting. Make sure your daughter knows that you love her for who she is. See her as a whole person capable of doing anything. Treat her and those she loves with respect.

    • Get physically active with her. Play catch, tag, jump rope, basketball or just take walks. Studies show that physically active girls have fathers who are active with them.

    • Involve yourself in your daughter's activities. Volunteer to drive, coach or teach.

    • Talk to other fathers. Together, fathers have reams of experience. There is a lot to learn from each other.

    • Help make the world better for girls. This world holds dangers for our daughters, but your overprotection doesn't work. In fact, it tells your daughter that you don't trust her! Instead, work with other parents to demand an end to violence against females, media sexualization of girls and pornography. Work to stop advertisers from making billions by feeding on our women's insecurities, in addition to all "boys are more important than girls" attitudes.

    According to Kelly, the greatest gifts a father can give his daughter are talking with her, listening to her and trusting her.

    For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book, "Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal." Download Here

    If you are curious to know how well you are doing as your daughter’s father, you might want to take the quiz on Kelly's website, dadsanddaughters.org.

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    The Value of Father-Daughter Relationships

    Beth, a 26-year-old church secretary was in a particularly good mood. She was actually glowing when a friend asked if her boyfriend had proposed to her.

    "Her response took me by surprise,” says Ken Canfield, author of Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers and The Heart of a Father. "She told me her father initiated a phone call to her for the first time in a very long time. I noticed she had flowers on her desk and I asked who sent her flowers.

    "With a huge smile, she told me her dad sent them to her for her birthday. Beth’s response to her father’s attention made me realize something. Even grown women hunger for love, attention and affirmation from their father.”

    Research from Canterbury and Vanderbilt Universities shows that from birth on, a father's activity and presence uniquely benefits their daughters.

    “Many men operate off of the premise that if they were uninvolved in their daughter’s life as she was growing up, it is too late to make a difference,” Canfield says. “Thinking that the die is cast or the deal is done because our children are grown is something we must re-examine. It simply is not true. In a parallel vein, research shows the devastating impact of divorce affects adult children deeply. Contrastingly, the continued investment in your child’s life even when they are parents of your grandchildren will reap tremendous benefits for you and them.”

    Studies reveal that men tend to spend more time with their sons than they do with their daughters. In fact, fathers tend to back away from their daughters during the pre-adolescence and adolescence. However, a girl's need for attention and affection during that time period is even more important.

    “When a father abandons a relationship with his daughter, she can become frozen in time relationally with the opposite sex,” Canfield says. “A 50-year-old woman may look like an adult, but on the inside she is still working on issues that should have been attended to by a healthy, engaged father.”

    Based on research, we know a few more things about these relationships. Without a healthy relationship with their father, girls will find other ways to contribute to their development when it comes to relating to men.

    “When you are frozen relationally, it is difficult to know your place and how to develop a healthy relationship. It's because you are working from a point of need instead of working out of a position of co-equal,” Canfield says. “There is a void in her life. The search to fill that void prompts her to take risks in relationships, which usually result in some really poor choices.”

    According to Canfield, limitless healing and restoration can take place in father-daughter relationships. Here are Canfield's tips:

    • Initiate communication with your adult daughter. Affirm her for the positive contributions she has made to your life or in the lives of others.
    • Consider asking for forgiveness. The three toughest things for fathers to say are: “I was wrong, I am sorry, and will you forgive me?” Use these to deepen your relationship with your daughter.
    • Ask your daughter for three ways you can support her in the coming year.
    • Ask your child’s mother (who is an adult daughter) to describe how her father influenced her most significantly.
    • Affirm your daughter’s femininity by being sensitive to her emotional highs and lows.

    Cultivate an atmosphere of “no-strings-attached” love in your home. Be ready to listen to and support your children in every challenge.

    For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book "Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal" Download Here

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    A Father's Love

    Jeff Harrell worked long hours in the restaurant business when his daughter was born. Alyssa was 3 months old when Harrell realized that she clearly had no interest in being with him.

    “That’s when I knew things had to change,” shares Harrell. “I did not want my child to grow up not knowing me. My wife and I decided that I would quit my job, although I didn’t have another job offer."

    While Harrell was stressed about leaving his job, he also felt a sense of relief because he believed better times were ahead. Fast forward more than 20 years, and daughters Alyssa and Emily will be the first to tell you that their relationship with their father is special.

    “I think one of the big things people love about coming to our house is hanging out with my dad,” Alyssa say. “More times than I can count, guys would come over, but they weren’t really here to see me or my sister. They were looking for my dad. He is a smart person and they can talk with him. He doesn’t tell them that their mistakes are ok and he encourages them to do better. Although he isn’t their bud, they open up to him and he doesn’t judge them.”

    Alyssa and Emily have a special bond with their dad, but that doesn’t mean they always agree with his rules.

    “My curfew was earlier than all our friends,” Emily says. “After dances, I had to come home instead of staying out with my friends. At the time that really irritated me because it seemed like I was the only one that had all these rules. Now I’m grateful.”

    Their dad instilled in them that the Lord wanted them to live a meaningful and impactful life. He also taught them the importance of staying away from compromising situations.

    “Both of our parents gave us boundaries,” Alyssa says. “I know that was a good thing. We have friends who are jealous of our relationship with our dad.”

    Harrell has no regrets about making career moves to be home with his girls. While some dads work hard and think they have earned the right to play golf on Saturday, Harrell believes he has earned the right to raise his children and that should be his main focus.

    “I have one shot to get this right,” Harrell says. “You don’t get to check certain boxes about what you will and won’t do as a dad. All the boxes are already checked. I signed up for the good, the bad and the ugly.”

    Here are a few things Harrell suggests to fellow dads:

    • Keep in mind your kids can either get wisdom and knowledge from you or they can get it from someone else.

    • They can either spend time with you or someone else.

    • Children can learn from suffering the consequences or seek wisdom instead.

    • Dolls, tea parties, race cars, concerts and Muppet theater are all great ways to spend your time.

    • If the relationship isn’t there before your kids leave home, it won’t be there after they leave.

    “You may think your kids don’t really need you, but that’s not true,” Harrell says. "Being 100 percent involved may cost you monetarily now, but in the end it pays off in dividends you can’t buy.”