Daddies and daughters. Why it's important to be earnest. A story, a printable, and a song :)
We’re lucky to be mummies in the modern world. Our generation are one of the first, in Western societies at least, to have daddies involved in the parenting. In more than just a ‘wait til your father gets home’ kind of way. My husband has been struggling under the yoke of this modern ‘equality’ in the home since he met me. He sometimes laments, with a smile, falling in love with a feminist. It has given him a role in our children’s lives that is meaningful, productive and healthy. He knows them, he understands what they eat, the rhythm of their days. He has walked the halls singing them to sleep and washed the sick from their shivering little bodies. He’s changed nappies and made breakfasts, lunchboxes and dinners, he’s listened to their long-way-around-stories, and read them many more. He’s a softie about lights out and a push over when it comes to tomato sauce. He’s an awesome Dad. The kids are so lucky to have him. They let him know when he gets home from work by running and jumping into his arms, or by trying to sit on his head when he’s watching TV. They let him know by fighting over who gets to sit next to him at dinner time and by calling out his name when a nightmare shadows their sleep. They shower him with kisses and they still, even at six and nine, run into the bedroom each new day for a morning snuggle. He’s their big guy, their protector, the fun one, the fixer-upper.
Sometimes, I watch him with our daughter and it makes me stop what I’m doing entirely while I take it in. What I see between them is so beautiful, so warm, so nurturing. It catches my breath and I think of all the joys the dads of past generations missed out on. He teases me about our contemporary arrangement, but if I dare to suggest a change in our routine that might reduce his daddy time in any way, he protests. He protects the job of fathering his kids. A friend of ours captured a picture of my girl and her Daddy the other day. Her legs have stretched almost the whole way to Africa in the last few months, she’ll be tall, like him. But she is still a kid, despite her height. In the photo, he is piggy backing her to the car. He carried her because she asked, because he’d do almost anything to make her smile. She’s so lucky.
Sometimes, Dads don’t know what to do when it comes to daddy-daughter time. I guess it is the equivalent of the mind-numbing sweep that washes over my brain when I am faced with a floor full of cars and my son pleads ‘play with me, Mum?’. I don’t know how to play cars. He doesn’t like the way I try to colour code the parked cars, or assign personalities to certain models. He likes the noise making, the crash creating, the races and the siren wails. We find ways, but I always welcome new suggestions for things to do with my son. It’s just not as natural to me as playing with my daughter. If your girl has a dad that might like some helpful suggestions, here are some ideas. I get it, it’s hard sometimes to show that you are enjoying the tea party that’s been arranged on your tummy when you are trying to watch a game.
So, if you are a new Daddy, or a Dad who is out of ideas: what your girls need from you is as straightforward as 1, 2, 3.
You can connect with your girls from the moment they are born. It starts by helping their mum with their care, taking your daughter for a walk on your own, in the pram or the front pack. Building rituals together. Maybe your girl comes with you every time you pick up the coffees and the weekend paper. Or to the car wash. Maybe you are the kind of Daddy who will take her out for breakfast before daycare or school, or even take a whole “mental-health-day” off to go on an adventure together. You might be the kind of Dad who is always there for sports events, or who takes their daughter to professional games (and not just of all-male teams). Connecting with your girl is about taking the time out to be with her, even if you are busy. It’s making her a priority, so much so, that your phone stays in your pocket.
When you have a history of connection with your daughter (you can start building it today!) you will convey to her exactly what kind of attention she deserves from the men around her. Because you are the blueprint for how men work, her yardstick. If you care about her having healthy adult relationships with males, you’ll want to convey her worth to her every time you connect with her. You do this by what you DO. How you behave specifically towards her. Are you noticing her in the small ways as well as the big ones? When was the last time you brought your daughter a flower, just because? Or wrote her a little note and tucked it under her pillow? My husband is a fan of writing notes to hide in the lunchbox. Our daughter is moving into the ‘how embarassing’ stage now, but I see how much she loves his notes. How she tucks them into her treasure box to look at again later. Find your own ways to convey these messages to your girl. Write it in the sand. Spell it out in cornflakes. Reach for her and hold her tight. If you make time for your daughter, by scheduling appointments with her, she’ll see she is an important part of your life. And if these appointments are exclusive, she’ll understand loud and clear that you value her for who she is as an individual. Ask her about the people in her world, about what she can’t stand, what she loves. And please, listen to the answers. It is how you convey to her that she is important, just as she is.
Maybe life is busy, she has after school commitments, you are snowed under. It’s easy to let it slide, especially if she goes to bed sometimes before you even get home. Just don’t skip the kiss goodnight. She might be asleep, but it will register, somewhere in her consciousness, that you didn’t miss the chance. If you have gone for more than a week without a significant opportunity for connection, take some action with your diary and make your girl a priority. Even if it is five minutes of tooth-brushing-opera together. Or the drive to school without headphones or phone calls. Make a regular ‘date’ in your work calendar to send her a text or write her a note for later. To call a florist or a bookshop and have a special surprise delivered, or think of and book the next ‘daddy-daughter-date’. You are organised in your work life, you can get organised in your Daddy job too.
Two things for you. A printable “Daddies & Daughters To-do List” and a song.
From us, to you, with love ;)
Written for Rainbows and Clover by Rachel Cox, who is not just one of our esteemed nic-nac blog writers, she's also a teacher, artist, mumma, wife, all-round amazing gal, and has her own blog which is utterly addictive. Go check it out here http://rachelfaithcox.com/