Rather than writing a wordy post about all the reasons I love my dad and why pretty much everyone else loves my dad too, I made a list of the advice I believe he’d give a young father. It may not be politically correct, but then again, my dad isn’t either.
- Be a man. Protect your daughters. Guide them. Help them make tough decisions. Be honest with them. Tell them difficult things when they need to hear them. You’re not their friend. (This just in: They have classmates for that. You’re their father. They need you to be assertive and strong on their behalf.)
- Hug your daughters. From the time they’re babies, through their awkward teenage years, into their adulthood, always, forever, hug them. When their hair is frizzy at age 10, when they have braces at 12, when they cry about boys at 15, and when life doesn’t make sense (ever), hug them. When society tells you your daughter is maturing and she needs her own space to become her own person, spit on society’s shoes, and hug your daughter. Because even if she pretends not to like it, even if she rolls her eyes (don’t let her get away with that, by the way), even if she doesn’t hug you back, hug her anyway.
- Have family devotions every day. Even if it doesn’t make sense at the time, or you don’t really know what you’re talking about, or you’re exhausted and want to skip for a day, spend time in God’s Word with your girls. You may not see miracles overnight or perfectly behaved daughters the next day, but you will build a foundation that will undergird all your daughters do for the rest of their lives. It will teach them that faith and life move out from what happens in church on Sunday into the week, that Christ is at the center of everything–whether it’s Tuesday or Friday–and that God and His Word really do work . . . now and later.
- Talk to your daughters. Put down your phone. Turn off the TV. Pour two glasses of lemonade, sit on the front step, and talk to her. Not, “How’re you?” “Good.” But really talk. Ask open-ended questions. Ask her to explain. Ask her why. But talk to her. And most importantly, let her talk to you. Shut your mouth. Don’t formulate your response before she’s done talking. Just listen. And let her talk.
- Teach your girls how to drive stick. They’ll cry and wail and lament to your wife that you’re a monster and they’ll NEVER learn how not to pop the clutch EVER and if you just would leave them alone they could TOTALLY get it and why is it so HARD? But 10 years later, they’ll have great stories to tell about how they gave you whiplash and how awesome boys think they are, due in large part to their mad 5-speed capacity.
- Love your wife. Make her laugh, kiss her, tell your daughters how much you adore their mother. They will groan and gag and hide their eyes, but they will learn that this is what a pious, Christian marriage ought to look like. They’ll learn, even if they’re pretending to be anywhere but in that room, that husbands and wives talk to one another, suffer alongside one another, care for each other, and forgive each other. The world will teach your daughter something different. But if you model how a man treats his wife at home, your daughters will listen and watch and remember. Love your wife.
- Tease your daughters. Give them a hard time every now and then. Joke with them. Be silly. Make them laugh. Because in so doing, you will teach them that not everyone in this world thinks they are the most amazing thing since Panera’s mango smoothies, that the world is not so awful and serious and drama-packed as it seems. Teach them that our Lord gives us joy in this life and that laughter covers a multitude of hardships.
Raising daughters isn’t easy. We’re emotional. We’re dramatic. We’re needy. We crave affirmation and approval. But we love our dads. Gosh, do we. And we love, even more, the dads that love us right back.