The time is getting closer for your wife, my daughter, to deliver her own daughter. This will be familiar territory for her–a household dominated by females–but it will be uncharted territory for you.
I’m sure you learned a lot by growing up with a home full of testosterone, but those years with your brothers didn’t prepare you for what’s to come.
I get it. I was raised in a male-dominated home.
That’s why I thought I’d share with you the wisdom I have gained over the past 26 years of being in a heavily female dominated home where even most of the dogs were girls!
Here’s what you need to know…
Talk, Listen, and Affirm
Growing up in a male dominated household, the conversation tends to revolve around the odors and sounds associated with the human body. While girls will certainly talk about these things amongst themselves, when in the company of others, they are considered juvenile. However, talk about monthly cycles, pimples, and manicures will take place at every meal and at all other occasions in between. In fact, whenever the conversation steers toward “Girl Topics,” it’s best to not say anything at all. Any comments or complaints about such conversations will prompt a stern, “Oh, Dad, come on. These things are a part of life.”
Read to your daughter and in front of your daughter. Books will give her wings and boost her imagination. Listen to her when she talks about books or movies or boys. She’s telling you for a reason. Sometimes, when it seems that she is telling you something for no reason at all, there is a reason. She needs you to listen, to understand, to read between the lines. She needs you to acknowledge her when she’s talking and engage her in conversation. From the time she is born, YOU are her model for all males. Show her respect, and let her know what she should look for in a man. Give her your full attention, and make sure she knows how she should be treated–with dignity, respect, and love.
Your daughter will not need you to protect her (this makes her feel weak), but she will need your shoulder to cry on and your advice as a male. She’ll let you know when it’s necessary to give such advice or offer your shoulder. Never tell her not to be upset. This will, in fact, further upset her. Sometimes, all she wants is for Daddy to be there and tell her it’s okay to cry. Don’t belittle her feelings or try to act like you understand. You don’t, and she knows that. She’s not looking for someone to share her feelings, but she may be looking for someone to affirm her self-worth. That would be your job.
Father-Daughter Time Matters
Always invite her to go with you–to work, to the store, when hunting or fishing. It doesn’t matter where you’re going. Your daughter will idolize you and want to be part of your life. She doesn’t care where you go or what you do as long as you do it together. If you’re giving an important speech on Take Your Daughter to Work Day, it’s okay for her to steal the stage from you. Nobody will remember what you said, but they will remember that you’re a great dad.
Tea parties are a must. Sometimes wearing a crown while attending said tea party is required. This can involve sitting in chairs way too small for you and drinking from tea cups that are so tiny, you can barely hold them between your fingers. Drink the tea anyway. And let her know how good it is and how much fun you’re having. She needs you to want to be with her no matter the setting and to acknowledge her importance in your life.
Build Her Up and Treat Her Right
Never, ever, ever tell your daughter that she can’t do something, especially that she’s not strong enough or able enough. She’s never too young or too old to be told that she’s capable of anything, no matter how hard or un-girly like you think it is.
Never make your daughter feel funny about being a girl. It’s a wonderful thing to be. She doesn’t need to act or be treated like a man to succeed. She can grow up to be whatever she sets her heart and mind to without ever having to give up her femininity. She can hunt for deer in the morning and go to prom dressed like a princess in the afternoon. Don’t tell her that she can’t do something because she’s a girl or let her think she has to act like a girl all the time. It’s okay to be a girl who likes to do “boy things” just like it’s okay to be a girl who likes to look pretty. They are not mutually exclusive.
The way you treat her matters more than you will ever know.
Not only will she look to you as an example of a good man, she needs to know that you’re okay with mother-daughter time and not jealous of it. Give them their time together, their weekends away, their time at Girl Scout camp, and the moments when they need to be alone together. They will have a relationship that you may never understand, and that’s okay. Theirs is a bond that is unbreakable, but so is your bond with your daughter. The bonds are different but equally special.
Love her mother with all your heart. Show your love for her mother in what you say and what you do. This not only affirms that you love each other; it shows her how a wife and mother should be treated.
The Faith of the Father
Finally, and most importantly, share your faith with your daughter. Before my father walked me down the aisle, he told me that it was my duty as a wife to make sure my husband went to church every Sunday. I took this to heart and have never forgotten it. However, modeling your faith as her father is just as important, perhaps more important, than the faith modeled by her mother. You are the earthly embodiment of the Father’s love for her. In order for her to cultivate a loving relationship with Our Father, she needs to have a loving relationship with her father and needs to see his relationship with The Father. How often you attend Mass, go to Confession, or volunteer in your church will have an impact on her. Show her the Father’s love through your words and actions in life and in faith. You never know, maybe one day, you will find yourself marveling at her faith and find it to be a rock upon which you can rebuild and strengthen your own faith.
Anthony, you will be a wonderful father, and your daughter will look up to you always. I know that you will give her everything she needs to grow up to be a strong, independent young woman with a healthy outlook on life. While her mother will be a model to her of all that she can be and achieve, you will be the first man she loves. Everyone else will pale in comparison if you continue to be the man I know you to be.
Cherish every moment. Sip that tea, have those talks, lend that shoulder, support her whims and desires, and shower her with love. Your grand adventure as a Girl Dad is just beginning.
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Dates are being scheduled for the fall. Watch for information about Abbeyfest in September and about a workshop Amy will be giving in November.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines was released in June of 2021. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s chapter book is The Greatest Gift, and her most recent suspense novel is Summer’s Squall.
Amy’s second book in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, was awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two, Under the Summer Moon, was released in December of 2021.
Amy’s new book, Seeking Tranquility, was released on June 15, 2022. Buy your copy now!
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021), Under the Summer Moon (2021), Seeking Tranquility (2022).