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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 Dialed-in Dad Checklist: Your Fathering Self-Assessment

Michelle Watson

Let’s be honest. None of us like someone else telling us what to do.

It’s hard enough when we’re forced to sit for our annual review while hearing our boss give feedback about both our strengths and weaknesses. But since it’s protocol, we have no option but to endure the scrutiny.

However, unlike our work environment, when it comes to assessing fatherhood, it’s another ballgame. In that arena, the likelihood of individual defensiveness is higher, especially if the person giving the feedback is a stranger (a.k.a. me to you). I can understand how it could come across as a personal attack when the input isn’t based on a full understanding of the entirety of a situation.

In view of that reality, Dad, I want to offer you a way to evaluate yourself. No lecture. No force. No hovering. Just you lifting up the hood of your “car” and checking the wiring in order ensure optimum workability.

I want to give you a tool that equips you to assess yourself in the area of fathering. No one else will see it but you. My hope is that in having a template for self-evaluation, you will be more honest than if someone was looking over your shoulder.

I have such great respect for men who are open and willing to ask for help in order to achieve their goals, especially their fathering goals. Although many dads I’ve spoken with haven’t written down or articulated their parenting goals, I’ve discovered that those ideals are actually tucked deep within and clearer than may have realized. That’s where I believe this self-assessment will serve as a proactive tool in your fathering toolbox to support your personal growth as a dad because it will help you clarify your vision.

Let me add that I’ve absolutely loved hearing dads in The Abba Project (the group I lead for dads of daughters ages 13 to 30) tell me that they made a copy of this self-test and put it in a prominent place to remind them of what they need to work on.

Speaking of prominent places, I was blown away when Police Chief Bret, a former Abba Project Dad, sent me a picture a couple of years ago after our group ended. Placed next to his bulletproof vest, leather belt, and two guns was his Abba Project notebook, propped up as a daily reminder of the importance of investing in his three daughters. He wanted me to see that he wasn’t forgetting to dial in even after our group ended.

Let’s get practical now.

After you take the Dialed-In Dad Self-Test and see items that are not a part of your daily or weekly interactions with your daughter, write out two or three specific things that you are going to do starting today that will launch you on your journey toward being increasingly tuned-in to your daughter.

There’s no need to go down a path of guilt or shame for things you’ve done wrong in the past, and there’s no better time than the present to begin changing the past. You have today and every day from here on out to make up for lost time.

Here’s the bottom line: Being intentional makes a big difference.

Challenge yourself to choose a couple of new ways to connect with your daughter as you go forward on this journey (use the items which received the lowest scores on the checklist to guide you here). And if you’re like the men in my groups, you’re ready to use your score both as a gauge for where you are now as well as a guide for where you still need to focus.

By doing this, you’ll be clearer on where to take action so you can more specifically invest in your daughter’s life today.

Here’s the Dialed-in Dad Checklist:

Dialed-In Dad Checklist with Scoring Sheet