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Portland, OR

I exist to help dads learn to communicate and engage with their young adult daughters.  I provide resources from my vast amounts of research and experience with dads and daughters, and this is the place where you'll find the tools you need to become the hero you've always wanted to be.


The ABC’s of Fathering

Michelle Watson

Ever since John Gray’s book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, was released twelve years ago many of us been referring to women as “Venusians” and men as “Martians.”  

I realize that guys got the short end of the stick on that label (sorry men!), but regardless of descriptions this book really does sum up the obvious:  men and women are from two different planets.

We don’t think the same. We don’t talk the same. We don’t feel the same. We don’t live the same. Our wiring is different. Our needs are different. Our priorities are different.

This brings to mind something that one of the dads in my group inadvertently said one session. He wasn’t sure of the name of the original book title so in talking about the differences between men and women he said, 

“Women really are from Venus and Men are from…is it Pluto?!”

He didn’t say it to be funny but we all roared with laughter.  I told him I actually like his version better than the original!

I didn’t realize this until later but experts say that the distance between Mars and Venus is anywhere between 35 and 222 million miles while the distance between Venus and Pluto is actually farther than that. The distance between Venus and Pluto is actually three billion miles, which probably more accurately reflects the gap between men and women!  

For a lot of dads who start this journey of intentionally pursuing their daughter’s hearts they think their relationships can’t get any closer.  They’ve resigned themselves to believing that the three billion mile gap is not only normal but is a fact that can’t be changed or altered.  

I talked to a couple of dads just this week who have admitted to blowing it with their daughters.  Each one is now living with relational distance as a result.  They feel they’re going to have to live with it the way it is.

I’m standing here shouting a message of hope to these dads and each of you by saying, 

Yes, it can be changed…

but YOU are the one who has to move your planet closer to hers.”

In the past five years since starting The Abba Project (the group I lead for dads with daughters between the ages of 13 and 30), I’ve slowly been learning to speak Martian.  I guess you could say that I’m bordering on being bi-lingual!  

One of the main things I’ve learned about speaking Martian is that you men don’t like too many words. You want me to get straight to the point. You want an action plan, and you want solutions that work.

Following that grid, here are three “quick-and-to-the-point” components to being a dialed-in dad, something I like to call “The ABC’s of Fathering.” 


I’m guessing that every one of you had a favorite superhero growing up.  I’m also guessing that the reason you identified with your particular crime fighter was because he took action.  Could you even imagine an impotent, lethargic, unmotivated, and distracted version of your champion?  Of course not!

It’s the same with fathering.  In order to be your daughter’s superhero, you have to take action to intentionally and consistently pursue her heart.  And by “heart” I am referring to her core self that feels passionate and comes alive when being all of who she was created to be.

You probably already have a handle on what action steps touch your daughter’s heart, but in case you would like an extra idea or two, action ideas include (but are not limited to):  daily affirming her in written or verbal ways, showing up at events she is involved in, patiently holding her emotional reactivity, being present with your attention, listening fully, investing financially, and leading spiritually.

Be the man you want her to marry.

The best way you can ensure that your daughter will marry a quality dude and not a dud is to model the kind of guy you want her to walk down the aisle to. You communicate more about her value and worth by the way you treat her than any lecture you could ever give. Stated otherwise, more is caught than taught. Let her experience in real time what it feels like to be treated like a lady by you, the first man who held her heart and the one guy in the world who doesn’t have a hidden agenda in loving her.


There is a great verse that says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). This essentially means that if you make a promise to your daughter, keep it.  And the result of being a promise-keeping, heart-pursuing, truth-speaking, tender-loving, stay-the-course dad is a daughter 

  • whose heart will stay open (the opposite of a “sick heart”),
  • who will be a vibrant, growing, maturing, life-giving “tree,”
  • who will have greater self-confidence, more emotional stability, and succeed in reaching her life goals (all of this is confirmed in the research). 

When your daughter consistently experiences that she can trust you, she will internalize your positive view of her. Your steady, dependable, reliable, and faithful pursuit of her heart will yield dividends that will last long after you’re gone.   She is your forever investment.

And like I say in my book:  The harder the work, the greater the value.  And the harder the work, the greater the reward.  Your daughter is worth the work.  She is your reward.  

So there it is.  A “1-2-3, A-B-C” formula with an action plan that works if you work it.  And there’s no better time than the present to kick these ABC’s into action in order to be the dad you want to be and the dad your daughter needs you to be.  


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