“I know a girl,
She puts the color inside of my world
But she’s just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I’ve done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I’m starting to see
Maybe it’s got nothing to do with me
Fathers, be good to your daughters…”
Ella and Lucy are my two girls. Unique in their own way, each of them love to make things beautiful. It’s in their nature to create beauty. My boys.. they aren’t as concerned with that. But my girls… Oh, they are a treat.
Painting nails, painting paper, painting eyes and faces, just painting … these girls will add color to everything. An appreciation for simple beauty is something that comes harder for a lot of men. But not to my daughters.
They will dance, sing, twirl, and curtsy on a whim. Every moment in front of me, they are constantly competing for my eye. They want me to notice them. They want me to appreciate their beauty, their creation, their life.
It said, “Hi Daddy, how ya doing? If you don’t answer me on the paper you will be attacked by a fork at home…I’m not joking… answer (smiley face) ___________ From Ella.”
So far, I haven’t been attacked by a fork from my daughter yet, so her threat seems like it’ll not be carried out. But as you can imagine, life with my girls keeps me on my toes!
Lately, things have been difficult with my oldest, Ella. She’s coming into her own a little bit as the older daughter in the family. Lucy, 5, is still the littlest one and always reminds me of why we had kids in the first place. Ella, though, is entering the world of awareness of her surroundings as a young girl. And it’s making me and Rebecca look at each other and ask, “What have we gotten ourselves into?”
Temper tantrums, smarting off, sneaking around her room at bedtime… exploring her world and discovering the good and the bad. I struggle at times because I don’t always know how to think or appreciate correctly what’s happening to my little girl. I get the cold shoulder a lot. I watch her shrink back from me when I get angry. And my sweet little girl seems, at times, to be disappearing under the long hair that keeps surrounding her pretty little face.
I know it’s a season, a phase, a process she’s in. Today, though, I’m going to offer some things that I’m trying here at home to move towards my daughter’s heart better as a dad. If you’ve got girls, this might be helpful. If not, maybe it’ll help you appreciate what kind of work we dads have to do to keep the home fire’s burning.
- Don’t take it personal. As a father, I must invest time with my kids. In the investing, I find myself pouring myself out personally into their hearts. I want them to become people who think wisely, who make smart decisions, and who always choose the right and reject the wrong. But when I sense the animosity from my daughter, it’s easy to take it personally. Don’t. As I said before, she’s growing up. There is a season that she must go through to discover herself, to learn hard things. If we take ourselves too seriously, we’ll never be taken seriously by them.
- Be there. Presence is required. If you’re too busy at work or thinking about the next project, you’ll miss being there for your daughter. Before you know it, she’ll be older and looking for the male presence that you never gave her. Be her strong tower to run to. Make yourself available. I struggle with this too. My mind is constantly thinking about all kinds of other things I need to be doing, even when I’m with my children. There comes a time, though, when we have to turn off the electronics, the television, and the voices in our heads and be present to our daughters. This goes for all of our kids.
- Share time together. Again, I’m not expert on this. I fail everyday. But intentionally making time to play with them, take them out on dates, sing songs with them, or read books to them at night goes a long way. I literally have to get up out of my passivity and move closer to my daughters. After a long day or week at work, the last thing I often want to do is get up and dance with my girls, or play barbies, or have tea. Fathering well is a discipline. That means it’s not easy. Carve out time, make time, and share time with your daughters. I’m still working on this too. Nobody gets this perfectly right. But effort needs to be put forth.
- Give her space. Something I’m noticing about my relationship with my daughter that is different than the relationship I have with my sons is that she holds onto things much longer than my boys do. My boys are different too, one is quicker to let things go of than the other.. but they both do get over things pretty fast when compared to my girls. I need to recognize when I’ve tripped the wire in my little girls heart…and then I need to just back off some. My wife is good at recognizing when I’m pushing it a little too much with my kids and she calls me on it. We all need space to sort out our emotions at times, so give your daughter the space she needs. She’ll come back to you. Especially if she knows you have her heart.
- Extend Grace Always. No matter how much she has hurt or disobeyed, always extend her a Father’s forgiveness. Do not remove conaequences, but allow for grace. Grace softens the blow. It lets her know that she can’t screw up so royally that you won’t take her back. This is the way God cares for us. The least we can do as father’s is model ourselves after the greatest Father who exists.
Have you lost your daughter’s heart? How can you move back towards it? What have you done that has worked?