Dear Dads of Daughters,
There are so many ways to show your daughter that you are there for her. You can snuggle up together and read. You can hang out and bake cookies, kick a soccer ball, build LEGOS, take a walk, throw tea parties for teddy bears and any other special thing that marks your daddy-daughter time together. And I guarantee that your little girl appreciates absolutely every effort you make to spend time with her.
It’s even possible that your own father wasn't so great about spending time with you, and you've vowed to do it differently with your own kids.
But how far are you willing to go? Is there a point at which “girl stuff” or the things your daughter likes to do puts you out of your comfort zone? Do you find yourself drawing a line and telling her no, you’re not going to indulge her? I get it—it wasn’t exactly cool for guys to do things that are perceived as feminine, and so maybe those are things you’ve managed to avoid for your whole life.
If ever there was a time to risk looking like fool, it’s now that you have a daughter.
As long as she asks you to hang out, this is the time to say yes. So do it. Say yes to her requests to play dress-up together, to put make-up all over your face until you look like a drag queen after a drunken brawl, to style your hair with barrettes and bows, and do all sorts of crazy things that feel so unbelievably awkward.
Instead of shying away when she comes at you with a pink wig, plunk it on your head and strut around. Add a dash of your wife’s lipgloss. Same for that petticoat your daughter wants you to wear, and the long strands of beads she's looping over your head. Go along with it willingly. Joyfully. Playfully.
You’re being a model of acceptance and equality. You're empowering her to do and be anything she wants to one day.
Why, you ask? Why can’t she put on dress-up crazy clothes and you just encourage her and clap? Do you have to be subjected to blue eye shadow and flowered scarves? Well, yes. And here’s why:
Every effort that you make to be completely connected to your daughter is a way of deepening the lifelong relationship you are building. If she sees that you're willing to be a big goofball on her terms, then she'll actually feel closer to you in other ways. And that closeness will serve you both in the long run of your relationship. It will make you closer in those challenging years when a lot of girls drift away from their parents, especially their dads.
You’ve heard about fathers who feel a disconnect from their daughters when they hit adolescence? Perhaps you even worry that it might happen to you? Well show your beautiful daughter right now that you are in there with her in all the ways, and that nothing she does is too silly or ridiculous for you to enjoy as well.
Mascara? Bring it on!
A curling iron? You’re in for a treat!
When you go along with her idea of fun, you're also showing her that there aren’t things that only girls do and things that only boys do. You’re being a model of acceptance and equality. You're empowering her to do and be anything she wants to one day.
I'm married to a psychologist who dressed up with our daughter all the time, and those are still some of her absolute favorite memories of hanging out with her dad. My husband also works with a lot of teenage girls who feel broken-hearted when their fathers lose interest in them in adolescence.
So don’t let that happen to you. Do all of the things that the two of you love to do together, AND do the things that she wants to do.
What might seem like a silly game of dress-up may be something more for your girl: proof that her father really is the best.