I met a young dad not too long ago who enthusiastically told me about his adorable 2½-year old daughter. His face lit up and his eyes seemed to smile as he shared about his little treasure, one who clearly holds the key to his heart.
When he found out that I’ve written a book to dads about daughters, he leaned in and very intentionally asked, “In 20 seconds what advice can you give me as a dad to a daughter?”
I didn’t hesitate for even a moment. After 35+ years of walking alongside teenage and 20-something young women in various contexts, my answer quickly bolted from my mouth before I had time to think.
“Make sure to always drop your anger.”
I went on to explain (since, after all, I hadn’t used up my 20 seconds yet)…
“Anger is the number one way to hurt your daughter’s heart. So even when she pushes your buttons as she gets older, make a commitment not to respond in anger as a way to assert your power because it is the most effective way to destroy her and close up her spirit.”
Because he was still tuned in fully, I kept going.
“In the Bible God actually says that it’s all about fathers turning their HEARTS and not just their HEADS towards their daughters. In fact, He adds that if the hearts of fathers don’t turn towards their children that He will come and strike the land with a curse. Pretty intense, eh?”
After our short conversation I walked away and thought that perhaps my response was too negative and blunt. I wondered if it would have been better to have told him what TO do instead of what NOT to do.
But on second thought, the truth is that my reflexive, intuitive response to his question was based on 3½ decades of interacting with girls and young women. My deep desire was to help him by responding honestly to his question. And because the sad reality is that I’ve heard more stories from young women about their heart hurts as a result of their dad’s anger than almost anything else.
I knew I had to speak boldly and honestly in an attempt to plant this seed in his heart and mind early.
Here are five main ways that I’ve seen that a dads anger impact his daughter:
Your anger has the power to destroy her spirit.
Your anger shuts her down.
Your anger crushes the core of who she is.
Your anger causes her to give up.
Your anger makes her believe she unloveable and unworthy and not worth loving.
My belief is that every one of you dads wants the opposite of these five things when it comes to fathering your daughter. You want her to stay open in her spirit and live strong from her core. You want her be all of who she is created to be where she thrives from a deep knowledge that comes in part from you where she knows and believes she is loved, lovable, and worthy of being loved. You want her to take those truth deposits and live them out in such a way that she is able to share her love with the world.
With that in mind, here’s the bottom line for you, dad:
The way your daughter will achieve this goal of being the best version of herself is for you to daily stay the course with consistency while you…
Instruct her without anger.
Discipline her without anger.
Dialogue with her without anger.
Disagree with her without anger.
Lead her without anger.
Choose today to set a new course by determining that, when triggered, you will walk away and get your feet back on the ground before responding. I’d even suggest giving yourself a “time out” that matches your age (a.k.a. if you’re 50, take 50 minutes) to cool off and come back to the conversation later. You’ll have less chance of saying something you regret by letting your brain slow down when it’s rapid-firing.
Of course you are human, so when you’ve hurt her, humble yourself and make amends. Ask forgiveness. This is also a heart healing, heart restorative move.
Make a covenant in your heart and with your mouth not to vent anger at your daughter from this day forward.
Instead, be the life-breathing, kind, gentle, positive voice in her head that motivates and inspires her because there’s nothing better than a daughter who she knows in the depths of her being that her dad is FOR her!