If I could give you a “1-2-3 Quick Fix Formula” for being the best dad alive, would you want it? Of course you would! It’s human nature to want the fastest, easiest, and most efficient path possible to success.
But when it comes to fathering, it doesn’t quite work that way. It’s the “slow and steady wins the race” pattern that really makes all the difference.
In other words, the most effective fathering tool is simply showing up.
Taking it a step further, I want to assure you that you don’t have to do big, extravagant, out-of-the-ordinary things to be a hero to your daughter. It’s all about being there for her in the day-in-and-day-out routine that matters the most.
If you recall the things your dad did that had the most value to you as a kid, I’m guessing the biggest impacts were often the seemingly small, regular things he did that now bring back the fondest memories---from playing catch or teaching you to ride a bike to letting you barbeque alongside him or raking leaves together. It’s those everyday things that communicated that you were worth his time and effort.
So what means most to a daughter?
It’s being there to kiss her boo-boo’s (which get harder to make all better the older she gets) and letting her know that you want to understand where she hurts.
It’s about saying “no” to watching the game on television and “yes” to knocking on her door just to hear about her day.
It’s about having breakfast on Saturday mornings while watching cartoons or listening to her favorite music, reading the paper or talking about what interests her…even when it’s not your favorite subject.
It’s being at her track meets to see her win…or lose.
It’s about being willing to sit with her through torrents of tears and biting your tongue when everything inside you wants to give a mini-lesson (a.k.a., a lecture) that says, “I told you so,” or “how many times do you have to do it wrong before you’ll finally get it right?”
It’s about looking at her in the eyes to see her responses to your intensity (namely anger) and being willing to ask forgiveness when you’ve over-reacted and hurt her, thus closing her spirit.
It’s about giving her hugs even when she tells you she’s too old for cuddling…despite the fact that she longs to be close to you and needs to know you cherish her.
It’s about making sure that your job doesn’t consistently take priority over your family while choosing to remember that the greatest legacy you will ever leave is your kids, not your work.
I acknowledge that this fathering thing is not for the faint of heart. Truth be told, it actually would be easier if it wasn’t so daily. And it sure would be easier if your daughter came with a playbook.
But here you are, willing to learn what she needs so that you can give her one of the best gifts ever: your love.
So here is a fathering formula to assist you as you pursue your daughter’s heart, six things she needs from you. Whether you’re a dad who is already dialed-in or a dad who knows there is room for improvement, this provides a way to evaluate where you’re at while developing strategies for “kicking it up a notch” today:
The FATHER Formula is a template for you to gauge where you’re at when it comes to putting your love for your daughter into action. Write and let me know how it goes because I love celebrating with you as I applaud your willingness to make the FIRST move by AFFIRMING and TALKING with your girl, all the while finding the HUMOR in life around you, not taking yourself so seriously, and never giving up as you seek to ENGAGE her heart by communicating encouragement because you REALIZE how much your daughter needs you to be proud of her as you celebrate the uniqueness of who she is.
These six things will dramatically improve, revive, reinforce, and strengthen your relationship with your daughter. It’s all about getting in there and showing up, no special training necessary.
All you have to do is try.
And if you want The FATHER Formula in just twelve short words, here’s my summation: You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be present.