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Portland, OR
USA

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.

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A Father’s Heart: An Abba Project Dad Interview

Michelle Watson

There’s nothing like a true story, a raw and real story, to capture the heart of a reader. Today I have the privilege of introducing you to a dad who is currently in The Abba Project.

(Disclaimer: I’m not seeking to run a promotion for The Abba Project. More than anything, I share this story to inspire other dads to do whatever it takes to pursue their daughter’s heart. And if you do need a tool to reach that end, I encourage you to get my book and follow the directives laid out in it. I am your biggest fan and want to equip you to succeed as a father!)

Now back to the story. Alfonso almost quit after the second group, but thankfully stuck with it. He’s glad he did. I am too.

Alf is a father to three kids, two sons and one daughter. Claire is the oldest and a current college student who lives across the country, a factor that led him to connect with her from a distance, thus demonstrating that pursuit of a daughter’s heart can happen despite challenging odds.

He is willing to give you a birds-eye view into the process of engaging his father heart over the course of the past seven months. I believe his story will inspire you as it has me.

1. How would you describe yourself as a father throughout the last two decades?

Over the last two decades, I’d describe myself as a father who continually questioned his parenting decisions, especially when my actions were driven by anger and being impatient. I would rationalize my actions by saying, “…my parents raised me this way and I turned out okay.”

2. What kind of father was your dad to you and sister?

My dad had his moments of kindness, but he was hands-off. He wasn’t involved in many of key events of my life or my sisters. Don’t get me wrong, he was proud of our accomplishments, but he didn’t want, or didn’t know any better that it was important to me and my sister, to be dialed in.

3. What impact has fathering a daughter had on you personally in contrast to fathering your sons?

This is a tough question to answer because it’s an admission that I’m not as kind or caring as a father that I’ve led myself to believe. My impact of fathering a daughter has made me withdrawn, in contrast of fathering my sons. As you pointed out numerous times during The Abba Project sessions, it’s easier to do nothing than to do it wrong.

4. Are there any areas where you wish you had done things differently with her now that she’s in her 20’s and you look back?

Oh my gosh, where do I begin? I wish I would have been a more involved parent in everything. For her interest in art and music, I wish I would have been more than just an observer/bystander. Many times, I’d go to her art or music events thinking that I was being a supportive parent. I just assumed that was enough. It was certainly more than my parents did for me, growing up.

In her schooling, I wish I would have been more of a participant. I’d watch my wife help her with homework, read to her, and manage every aspect of her schooling. Claire or my wife never asked for my help…but, then again, I never offered either.

In sports, I wish I would have invited her to join me in swimming, biking or running, especially when I was training. We did go on some fun rides, but it stopped when she stopped asking. (Answering this question brought tears to my eyes).

5. You have changed A LOT throughout the course of the last seven months in The Abba Project. What exactly would you say has brought about such dramatic changes in you?

This one is easy. To use the advice you’ve shared with our Abba group and other fathers, get rid of the anger. If there’s one thing you’ve recommended as the most important, that would be the top of my list. And I can’t begin to tell you how dramatic of a change that has made in my life. I can honestly say that my first reaction to many challenges in my life is not to get angry anymore.

6. Where have you seen the most changes in yourself in the last seven months?

Being more patient. Taking the time to think about what I want to communicate and how I want to communicate it. Slowing down to think about the big picture: “How will my immediate actions affect my daughter and/or my family in the long run?”

7. What would you tell other dads who aren’t quite sure whether they want to be a part of a 9-month group to focus on specifically dialing in to their daughter’s heart?

I’d ask them, “Has what you’ve been doing, up until this point, worked? I suspect not. Then, give yourself permission to let your guard down. Allow yourself to be vulnerable to the process. What have you got to lose?”

But, to be more positive, give your daughter the relationship she’s probably wanted, one that goes back when she was a little girl. (Assuming there was a positive period between the dad and daughter at some point, give her that gift again. She deserves it, like you deserve the loving relationship with your daughter.)

8. What would you say to other dads who don’t want to look within themselves and change anything but want their daughters to do the changing?

Take a leap of faith. Recognize that what you’re doing or not doing is not bringing about change. At least meet her halfway. You may be surprised. If you truly want to have a relationship with your daughter, do the opposite of what you’re doing. At least give it a chance.

9. What would you tell other dads about what it means to be a dialed-in dad?

It means you’ll have a lasting and meaningful relationship with your children. Don’t be a side-line dad. Observing has it place, but don’t limit your relationships by just being a parent that shows up for events.

10. If you could give one piece of advice to fathers of daughters, what would it be?

If I had to limit it to one thing…Get rid of the anger!!! It’s waste of time and it doesn’t accomplish anything.

11. Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you want to share?

At the risk of sounding like a job interview, I’d like to ask myself this question. “Alf, where do you see yourself as a father to your daughter in a year, three years, five years, or more?”

This is a very difficult question to answer for a variety of reasons, but for the next year it’s my goal to be a genuine, inquisitive father and to be taking proactive steps to maintain what I’ve learned throughout The Abba Project. And ultimately, I’d like her to come to me for life’s advice as much as she goes to her mother.

Thank you, Alf, for courageously leading the way by willingly sharing your story. You have shown us the true reward that comes from entering into the process of self-examination while choosing to walk your talk by engaging your daughter’s heart with intention and consistency.

YOU are living proof as to why I believe our country will strengthen from the ground up as dads step up to the plate and invest in their daughters lives like never before. As you have shown us here, not only do you as a father change in the process, but you have the power to positively transform the lives of your children as well. I pray that more dads will follow your lead.

YOU, my friend, are now living with an awakened father’s heart and I want to go on record as saying that this makes you one of my heroes! Go Dad!


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