contact Michelle

For more information about any resources I have to offer, please contact me here!  I'd love to hear from you!

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 Abba Project

The impact of this dad's investment in his daughters' life is reflected on their faces on her wedding day!

The impact of this dad's investment in his daughters' life is reflected on their faces on her wedding day!

Me and my dad, Jim - he's my #1 supporter and ally in this venture!

Me and my dad, Jim - he's my #1 supporter and ally in this venture!

Daughters are never too old to go on dates with their dad! (Their radiant faces confirm that fact, don’t you think?!)

Daughters are never too old to go on dates with their dad! (Their radiant faces confirm that fact, don’t you think?!)


I’m so excited that you're interested in hearing about The Abba Project...

The Abba Project is a group for courageous dads who are ready to commit to “kicking it up a notch” with their teenage and/or 20-something daughters over the course of a year in her life. 

I started this project because I believe in the transforming power of a dad's love and attention to his daughter's life, and am committed to helping equip dads like you to relate in greater ways with your daughters.

Do you long for a better relationship with your daughter?
Have you struggled to connect and communicate with her the older she gets?
Has the thought crossed your mind that you’d rather let her mom "deal with her” because it seems like she is more complicated now that she is older?
Have you felt helpless as your daughter pursues a lifestyle you don't understand?
Would you like to have more tools to build a stronger bridge between you and your daughter?

If so, then The Abba Project was created just for guys like you. Take a look around and see what you think. I look forward to connecting when you're ready to make the next step.

Michelle Watson, PhD, LPC
Founder, The Abba Project

An Update about The Abba Project

The Backstory

The name...

Abba means "Daddy" in Aramaic. Men love a project. Enough said...

The original idea...

As a therapist for the past 17 years I have come to recognize a trend: girl after girl wishes she was closer to her dad. Often with tears running down her face I have heard her express longing for deeper connection with him. Whether she has an eating disorder, drug or alcohol addiction, or the "typical" dynamics around identity and figuring out who she is and where she fits, the desire for a stronger, deeper relationship with dad is a common theme.

The more I recognized this trend, the more I wondered what would happen in the lives of teenage and 20-something girls if their dads “kicked it up a notch” and intentionally invested in them like never before. My hypothesis was that it would positively change the lives of these girls (and their dads) in ways that nothing else ever could or would. I also thought men might inspire each other to be better dads if they had a forum where they could come together to both hear and learn from each other.

Then, in December 2009, I was doing my annual Christmas reading and came across the part of the story where Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, was told before his son was born that John would “help turn the hearts of fathers towards their children” (Luke 1:17). In that moment, I literally got what I like to call a “download” from heaven, and heard a whisper, “that’s what I want you to do.”

My first response was to think that this was absurd: Me, a woman, lead men? But as unconventional and crazy as this sounded, it instantly resonated in my spirit. This was the birthing of The Abba Project!

The first group...

Within a couple of weeks of dreaming up The Abba Project I contacted 11 dads of girls in their teens and 20's, and ten of them said, “We’re in!” I let them all know that this was a non-denominational group where all walks of faith would be honored. We started our first group in January 2010, with the following goals in mind:

1. To see if there would be any difference in their daughters
2. To see if there would be any difference in their relationship with their daughters
3. To see if there would be any differences in themselves as a result of the experiment.

Each month the men were given one assignment to help them invest more intentionally in their daughters' lives that month. By May the dads had already noticed such changes all the way around that we decided to make June our pivot month and kept meeting until the end of the year!

Looking forward...

I’ve told the guys in the group that I want to see The Abba Project span all over the country! Instead of defaulting to a position of absence or defeat where dads turn the reins over to moms, dads need to be assisted in learning better how to keep pursuing their daughters. That’s where I come in.

I want to assist dads to more effectively, intentionally, consistently, emotionally, and verbally connect with their daughters just like they connected with them on the day they were born! I believe this can be a solution that could decrease teen pregnancy, decrease alcohol and drug use, decrease eating disorders (an area I teach about and counsel in my private practice), all because girls are getting the need met deep inside herself that longs for unconditional love because she is being nurtured and validated by her dad. 

So there’s my story and my passion and my inspiration and my calling. I’m willing to keep going as long as there are dads who want to be taught!

Naysayers beware...

I had people tell me before I started the group, “You can’t get men to come to things; they just have too much on their plates.” Yet I am finding the opposite to be true. The guys keep coming and keep interacting and engaging and growing and changing.

I’ll never forget the day I asked the dads why they kept coming and why they kept doing their homework. After about a 30-second pause one finally spoke up and said, “because we love our daughters.” All the dads readily agreed.

During my work on this project I have been blown away, inspired, humbled, and amazed by these dads who kept coming back month after month, kept investing in the group, did the homework consistently (sometimes coming up with their own versions of the assignments!)... and indeed they intentionally kicked it up more than just a notch with their daughters! Clearly I have seen that this is meeting a need that is vital enough for these men to be motivated to keep coming back.