As part of our commitment to deepening the relationship between fathers and daughters, Daddy Daughter Time’s D.A.D.U.P. program informs and encourages fathers to “Dad Up” with purposeful and intentional parenting.
The D.A.D.U.P. program focuses on five traits we feel every father should implement into his day-to-day parenting. Our organization delivers advice, research, and information each month to our members to help fathers realize their worth and the impact they have on their daughters’ lives.
Can you take care of a house plant? If you’re too busy to water your philodendron once a week, there’s no way you’re going to find the time to diaper, clothe, feed, entertain, and nurture a baby (not to mention get her to field hockey practice when she gets older.) Being dependable builds trust so she knows she can count on your word and you’ll be there when you say you’ll be there. This goes double for divorced Dads who don’t get to see their girls every day. When fathers are a “no-show” both children and their mothers suffer.
Listen up. No, really…listen. It’s the number one way you can become more approachable to your daughter. A recent survey stated that only 4.1 percent of the teenage girls in America felt that they could approach their fathers and discuss a serious problem. You may think she’ll come to you, but another survey from USA Today showed that girls first turn to music, then friends, then TV when faced with a crisis. Moms came in at #31. Dads? #48. There’s 47 reasons for you to make sure she understands that she can approach you when times get tough.
When you listen to her you are subconsciously telling her that she is important. There is nothing more encouraging to your daughter —preschooler or teenager—than to have her father’s undivided attention when she is speaking to him. You can add ACCESSIBILITY to this one, too. You can’t hear her if you’re not near her.
Remember that time you tried to learn the guitar? Or that summer you tried learning how to wakeboard? Admit it: You may have set out with the best of intentions before quitting those projects once the going got tough and the real work set in. Make no mistake about it, children are a lot of work. If you’re not in it for the long haul, you shouldn’t be in it at all. Remaining devoted to being a constant and reliable presence in your daughter’s life is a key factor of fatherhood. The good news is, it’s never too late to go “all in.”
It may be hard to believe when she’s just a baby, but at some point in her life your daughter is really going to get on your nerves. Whether it’s intentional or not, affirming how she is feeling is an important trait in understanding who she is and a vital part of remaining an influence in her life. Refuse to see her point of view and you are shutting down a line of communication that may be tougher than you think to reopen. Plus, girls learn from their fathers what they should expect from a man.
We aren’t saying you should excuse or condone her disrespect or unwise decisions. But maybe you can try to put yourself in their sneakers and see life from her perspective more often. It might not change any of your family’s rules or values around the house, but it might change your tone of voice when you talk to her as you try and really understand what’s going on inside.
This trait may be the biggest challenge you’ll face. It may also be the most important. When it comes to fatherhood, patience isn’t a virtue. It’s a necessity.
Make no mistake about it, you will have Lego blocks flung at your head, baby food dumped into your lap and any number of ballistic devices aimed at your groin…all before she learns to talk. Kids will be kids. They act out, test their limits and boundaries, and make mistakes. As fathers, our job is to give them a safe environment to make those mistakes and learn from them. At the same time, you’re getting thrown under the bus at work, her mother isn’t your biggest fan these days, and it feels like the last time you had a break from the grind you had a lot more hair on your head. The temptation is to throw in the towel, and go have a beer with your friends. That may be an acceptable choice but so is talking with her mother, exercising, and basically not taking it personally. Just make a plan and find a way to make sure you keep a level head.
Keep your cool. Cool Dads Rock.