Dear Fathers of Teenage Girls,
Emotional roller coasters, sensitivity, clothing disagreements, boys, growing-up bench marks…what a special challenge God placed in your life!
Think you have it hard? My Father has four teenage girls at this moment.
When people say he should write a book on raising girls (apparently we cross our legs and act intelligent in public), he just laughs.
“Oh no, not yet. I’m still learning.”
Most men struggle understanding the mind of a woman, and very few even dare to approach the mind of a teenage girl. Often, what we want and need is precisely what we push against. (I don’t even understand that part, so you aren’t the only one).
Although my father is still learning, and I am a far from being the perfect specimen of a daughter, I want to share some things I have found daughters want from their Fathers. This isn’t based off of scientific data or stat sheets.
These are boiled down observations.
Some are from girlfriends who have good relationships with their fathers. Some who have bad. All from the perspective of a 19-year-old girl who has tested her father to the limits but tells him everything, respects him like no other man, and has given him her whole heart for safekeeping.
Fathers, this is what we teenage daughters need from you.
Girls want to know that you know you don’t know.
I have heard my Dad say countless times, “You know, Katie, this is the first time I’ve done this. I don’t know what I’m doing.” For some reason, this brings us daughters comfort. We know that you’re searching the Lord’s will, and you aren’t representing God in our lives. It is so much easier to respect a man who doesn’t know the answers, but searches until he does.
You fake that you know exactly what to do? That’s like telling your daughter you have three legs.
Pick Your Fights
You know already, arguments happen. They happen in every healthy relationship. In fact, I’d be more worried if I didn’t ever disagree with my Dad because it means either:
1.) He’s ignoring conflict
2.) I’m stuffing down resentment.
Try though I might, I have never been able to fully see from my Dad’s perspective on boys and clothes. Some of my other sisters have disagreed over schooling options or parties.
One thing to remember when you address your daughter, is that relationship is the most important. As much as we may hate it, girls want the security of being protected and guarded.
However, pick your fights!
If there’s 22 1/2 things that are bothering you, do NOT bring them all up. Your relationship with your daughter is more important than her music choices, those boots you don’t like, or her make-up. If it’s a big deal, address it, but don’t let the little disagreements get in the way of the big picture.
Protect Despite the Costs
“Protect” may bring to mind breaking out the shotgun and boldly attacking the guy who dare…
But the biggest fight you may encounter, is the fight with your daughter. Dads often tuck tail and hide rather than face this battle.
For some reason, girls have a love/hate relationship with protection. We love the feeling of security, trust, and love that results from protection. We crave it. If you don’t protect us, we’ll go looking for someone who will (and studies show we happen to be pretty bad at picking our own “father substitutes.”)
Still, we push against protection. The same way we sometimes feel the need to open our own door. We think we can protect ourselves. Our physical health. Our emotions. Our heart.
We want control.
Even if your daughter pushes against your protection, please, please, please PROTECT her. You know how guys think. We wish we did (and sometimes think we do), but the facts say otherwise.
I remember moments of my ignorant face glowing tomato-red at my Father’s “over-protective” verdict. I now thank The Lord for those moments of iron firmness (okay, so most of them).
Daddy had to fight me to protect me, but I am reaping abundant fruit because of his labor.
Answer her Questions: “Why?”
I’m not talking two-year-olds that are looking for an excuse to disobey. I’m talking girls that are nearly adults. If you don’t want your daughter to rebel, you need to tell her why you make the decisions you make. We may disagree, but we’ll compare your “why” with “whys” we collect from other people.
I had quite a few friends who were never told why they were expected to dress, behave, and act, certain ways. Once we hit our late teens and started making our own decisions, they had no reason to keep following the “restrictions” their parents placed on them, and dove headfirst into the cess-pit of the world.
In contrast, both of my parents explained over, and over, and over, why they agreed or disagreed with my opinion. The older I get, the more I realize the power of those “whys” and continue to accept many of them as my own “whys.”
Girls LOVE love.
There’s a reason chick flicks and romance novels target women. We crave an emotional bond with other women, but ultimately, we desire masculine love.
Daughters that do not feel appropriately loved by their Fathers will go find it somewhere else. We need love to feel secure. Even when I have been maddest at my Father, I have never doubted his love.
“Katie, you look so fresh today,” Daddy offers.
“Oh yeah? You like the no-make-up-messy-hair-look?” I smirk.
“You don’t need make-up to look beautiful.”
As much as I may NOT believe Daddy’s comment at that moment, it warms my heart. Tell your daughter she’s beautiful. It takes practice, but it means more than you’ll ever know.
Hug your daughter. A few weeks ago, my Daddy, wrapped his arms around me in a protective, fatherly, hug as I sobbed like a baby. I knew he cared, and I knew he was there for me even though I was about to put Home Depot’s best-selling sprinkler out of business.
A simple hug can mean a lot.
Listen. A big way you can show love is by listening. I know, not every girl talks as much as I do, but every daughter wants to feel her father has truly listened. This means, no cell phone, no TV, no “you’re wasting my time” (okay, so my Dad did ignore me when I said I was flying to Paris for cooking school), and no distractions.
If life gets too busy, Daddy will take one of us out to breakfast where we can “really” talk.
Be Worthy of Respect
As daughters, we are instructed to respect you. In the flesh, daddies are not worthy, but in Christ, you are freed from besetting sins and worthy of leading, protecting, and loving, us daughters.
Don’t let Satan have the pleasure of attacking your daughter because he has bound the “strong man” of the house and made you feel unworthy.
When you’re surrendered to Christ, HE will make you worthy of respect and give us reason to trust you.
To my own dearest Daddy,
I cannot fathom how much this questioning, curious, independent, girl has put you through. You have been so patient with me, and you have done what was in my best interest even when it meant a greater struggle for you. Still, we continue to grow and learn together as we work out new challenges and exciting opportunities life sends our way.
I am so blessed to be your eldest daughter. And although I’m glad you don’t choose to write a book on child rearing yet (I don’t need everyone to know I got the most spankings as a kid) no one would be a more credible author.
I would never choose another Daddy.
I love you.
Your Kathryn Joy