Cheryl and I have 3 kids: Zachary (16), Trevor (14), and Kyrsten (10). Over the years, we’ve had other parents ask us what it was like to raise a daughter after having 2 boys. Our answer? Very different! Can I get a witness?
I must admit, from a father’s standpoint, raising a daughter is as rewarding as it is perplexing at times. I’ve found that Kyrsten has different needs than my boys do. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the last 10 years.
1. Girls need to know their daddy loves them.
It means the world to Kyrsten when I tell her how much I love her. I can literally see her get stronger on the inside. She rests in knowing that I accept and affirm her.
This is also evident when one of her brothers is not treating her the way he should. Older brothers have a way of making their little sister feel like she isn’t as important as them. At least once a day, Kyrsten will come to me and tell me what one of her older brothers have said to her.
While I do work to correct the problem with her brothers, I also make a point to let her know how much I love her and tell her to ignore them. Saying this to her seems to wash most of her insecurity away. Knowing her dad is on her side is ultimately all that she needs.
While I do tell my boys at times that I love them, I’ve noticed that it doesn’t affect them in the same way as it does her.
2. Girls need to know their daddy thinks they are beautiful.
Every once in a while, Kyrsten will go with Cheryl to the store and they will shop for new clothes. When Kyrsten comes into the house with her prized possessions, she wants to immediately show me every piece of clothing. She will even put some of the things on to model them for me.
She then waits for me to comment on each piece of clothing.
I’ve also noticed that she will ask me if her clothes match. She wants to make sure that she is beautiful in my eyes. Again, my boys don’t look for this kind of feedback.
3. Girls need their daddy to show them affection.
This one can’t be underestimated. My daughter has to make sure that she gets a hug and kiss from me first thing in the morning. She also needs me to show her this kind of affection before she leaves the house and when she comes back. It’s also something she looks for before she goes to sleep at night.
The first 3 points of this article work together to strengthen the father-daughter bond. God made girls with hearts that have a space in them that only their dads can fill. Unfortunately, if a girl does not get this kind of attention from her father or a father figure, she will go looking for it in all the wrong places.
Many times, a hormonal teenage boy becomes the one who fills that void. This can lead to teenage pregnancy and the spread of STD’s, not to mention a wounded heart. As her dad, you need to fill that place in her heart.
4. Girls need to know that their daddy loves their mommy.
When Mother’s Day rolls around, it’s usually Kyrsten who is asking me what I am getting her mommy. It’s important to her that I treat Cheryl in a loving and respectful way.
Have you ever noticed that little girls seem to think about their wedding day at a young age? It’s as if God has imprinted this on their hearts. As Kyrsten has gotten older, I’ve noticed that she kind of lives out her dreams of marriage through Cheryl and me.
Sometimes, she’ll want me to go and kiss her mommy or give her a hug. Kyrsten then looks at me and says, someday I’m going to be married to Scotty (she has admired the same boy since her birth) and I will cook meals for him to eat. I remind her that until then, I need to be the most important man in her life.
5. Girls need their daddy to listen to them when they are upset.
Kyrsten is not always interested in me fixing all her problems. Many times, she just wants me to listen to her. There is something therapeutic for girls when their dad just sits and takes interest in them and their difficulties.
Guys, if you haven’t noticed this yet, girls are wired very differently than us. Consequently, from a young age, girls are more relational which means they need us to hear them out when they are down.
Inevitably, I almost always try to fix her problems. She usually outright tells me “no daddy” and then goes back to playing with her brothers as if nothing ever happened. Why? She just needs me to listen.
6. Girls need their daddy to protect them when they are in danger.
If you love your little girl (or older girl), you, as a dad, see danger all around. You anticipate negative situations and do all you can to keep her out of harm’s way.
In particular, one of the ways I do this is to teach Kyrsten what to do if she finds herself in a dangerous situation. Specifically, I make sure that Cheryl reminds her occasionally that it is never okay for another person to touch her in her private areas.
We are very careful with all of our kids when it comes to sleeping over a friend’s house. There are very few places we let Kyrsten stay overnight. Why? Because as a pastor, I hear enough stories about molestation and I want to do whatever I can to protect her. Ultimately, I know that God is watching over her, but this doesn’t take away my responsibility as a dad.
7. Girls need their daddy to guide them.
Contrary to the modern-day wisdom that says that “it takes a village to raise a child”, fathers, more than anyone else, have the power to set the course of their daughter’s life. Dr. Meg Meeker makes a statement in her article called Why Daughters Need Their Dads that is very powerful.
She says, “Fathers are what stand between daughters and this toxic world.” Wow! Read that a couple of times and meditate on it!
The best way to do this as a dad is to keep an open line of communication with your daughter. It’s important that we remember that the world our daughter is growing up in is much different than the one we did.
As dads, we should never be afraid to talk openly with our daughter about the struggles she comes against. Do everything you can to build bridges and not walls when it comes to your daughter. You have incredible influence in her life and she listens to you more than you might think!
I leave you with some powerful words from Dr. Meeks, a pediatrician, and author of 6 best-selling books on family life. Her words are so powerful, I’d rather just quote them and let them speak to you.
“After more than twenty years of listening to daughters—and doling out antibiotics, antidepressants, and stimulants to girls who have gone without a father’s love—I know just how important fathers are.
I have listened hour after hour to young girls describe how they vomit in junior high bathrooms to keep their weight down. I have listened to fourteen-year-old girls tell me they have to provide sex acts that disgust them in order to keep their boyfriends.
I’ve watched girls drop off varsity tennis teams, flunk out of school, and carve initials or tattoo cult figures onto their bodies—all to see if their dads will notice.”
Despite what our culture tells us, fathers play a vital role in the healthy development of their daughters. My hope is that this article will cause you to take a step back and ask yourself the hard questions. Are you giving your daughter everything that she needs?
Maybe you have a friend who’s a dad and needs to read this. If this is the case, I strongly encourage you to share this post with them. It may be the difference a little girl somewhere needs!
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