I wrote this post a few years ago, but it came to my attention again after someone shared it, so I decided to revise and repost it.
I never had a daughter. I have a great daughter-in-law, and she has a special relationship with her dad, but I never got to raise a girl. We are hoping some day for a granddaughter – should the Lord provide.
I watch from the sidelines some of my friends who have daughters and know I missed something special without a “daddy’s girl”. (I guess that’s why we’ve chosen to have female puppy dogs.)
Don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t trade my boys. I’m thankful for them and our relationship, but there is something unique about the relationship between a father and a daughter.
One thing I have observed, even in my own life, is what an important role a dad plays in a child’s life. And, again, watching others, it seems to me if the right foundation is set, the role of a dad can help a girl have confidence, feel loved and beautiful, and achieve great things. The right foundation can help a girl avoid, or at least recover, from many of the scars life naturally will bring. Even when a girl becomes a woman. And, the dad plays a huge role in establishing this foundation – either by what he does or doesn’t do, whether fully present or completely absent.
All women (all people) have scars of some kind. Sadly, I know a few girls – most of them now grown – who have scars caused by a dad. And, the scars caused by a dad may be among the worst.
As I’ve counseled dozens of hurt or angry girls over the years, I’ve often wondered what I would have done if I had raised a girl. Would would I do now if I were raising a girl?
Certainly the world can be a crazy place. Our children need us – perhaps now more than ever. If I were raising a daughter I would want to be wise and intentional. Maybe one dad out there will read this, consider his own role as a father, and be even more intentional in this important responsibility.
(In my next post I will share some thoughts about raising a son.)
Here are 10 things I’d do if I were raising a daughter today:
I would introduce her to Jesus, let her hear me pray for her daily and strive to live a godly life, after which she could model – and trust me to be consistent, although helping her discover I am not perfect, and the only real place to find fulfillment in this world is in a relationship with Christ.
I would let her see my wife is the most important woman in the world to me and encourage her to wait for a man willing to say – and live – the same.
I would dance with her, take her on regular dates, and hold her hand frequently, telling her daily how beautiful she is and that I love her unconditionally.
I would let her know, in word and actions, she is more important than my job, my hobbies, my favorite sports team and my iPhone. (And, actions do speaker louder than words.)
I would encourage her to take risks, to defy the odds, to dream bigger dreams which may seem impossible and then help her have the confidence to go for them with everything she has in her – consistently reminding her she has what it takes to do anything she sets her mind to do and to settle for nothing less than her best.
I would hold the standard high for her, but instill in her the belief I’m here for her, regardless of what she does wrong, and nothing she could ever do would cause me to turn my back on her.
I would get her self-defense training – and teach her where to kick, but most of all to know how to face all her fears with courage and conviction.
I would encourage her talents and abilities, to discover things about herself she didn’t know she could do, and instill a belief in her that God has great plans for her and will use her in incredible ways.
I would help her understand every boy’s intentions are not honorable, the world is not always kind, but she is worthy of and should always demand respect.
I would teach her the world does not revolve around her, but around God, and show her how to love others even more than she loves herself. I would challenge her to be a giver in this world – making a difference and leaving her legacy on it by how she lives her life every day.
That’s if I were raising a daughter.
Are you raising a daughter? Tell me about her.
Join the discussion 48 Comments
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I just came across this post on Pinterest. I love everything you wrote. I think the most amazing thing a father can do for his children is be there, be invested. You clearly are. I praise you.
I am one of those scarred women burned by her father. And then step-father. I was left at the age of 2 to never be thought of again by my biological father, my mom remarried when I was 4 and he was physically abusive and never gave me positive attention. I was shy, afraid to stand out, never believed in myself, have no self worth, and extremely critical of myself. I met my now husband and was afraid of “messing” up and having him walk out of my life. I am slowly building my own self up. It is always a work in progress. I believe no matter what happens to us in our lives we reach an age where we decide to over come it or not, which will let it destroy us. I also believe a lot of the worlds problems start with how the children are raised and how that changes who they become. If I was raised by a better man, I think I would have had the courage to become so much better than I am.
Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you. —Sent from Mailbox for iPhone
Love It…… Thank you.
My four grown daughters( no son) are all fantastic. Bringing them up is so wonderful and worth enjoying. With our continuous prayers for their well being, upbringing, spiritual life and social life, i really praise th LORD for what He has been to to them so far. One important thing that i do all the time since their childhood when praying, i used to say out their names out audibly so that they know what is it that i prayed for them for…Its really a great experiences to bring up my four lovely daughters because God is there for us to hang on to all the time. GOD is great!!
This is very helpful. Thank you Ron for sharing it. I do not have a daughter yet, but when the time comes this will be a reference material. Thanks again.
Awesome. Thank you.
Smart, beautiful, athletic, personable, daddy's girl, princess, dance queen, creative, artistic, cool, talented, god-fearing, my baby girl (although she is 12…smile)…I can go on and on. My daughter is one of the greatest gifts God has given me. I love her to pieces!
Read this post with my 13-yr old daughter. As I read the list she answered "check" to each of the ten points. I'm sure she has a very idealized view of me. I feel my inadequacies as a father every day. However, I pray that God would help me to become the kind of father she deserves. Thanks for the post.
My daughter just turned 21 and is studying abroad in New Zealand. I have to say that I have found it is very important not to be a helicopter parent, and to let her learn from her mistakes, both in her interactions with others (including boys) and in the choices she makes. But I am always there in the background, reminding her how much she is loved, no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. There have been 3 times that I had to step in and re-direct her relationship with a guy because it was becoming unhealthy for her, and now that she is dating a really sweet guy who might be "the one." she realizes I was right and maybe moms do know something. It was hard to be the "mean" parents, but it was important . I tell her frequently that if a guy doesn't treat her as well as her dad treats me he isn't worth it and God wouldn't choose him to be her special "guy for life". It's also important to give a girl lots of experiences where they can become strong and confident in their physical body and in their mental and creative abilities (gymnastics, Girl Scouts, Christian drama school). I let her backpack in the woods for weekends with strangers (albeit Girl Scout leaders) and she built self confidence, I let her travel abroad to Italy to study in Urbino for 3 weeks (though I knew none of the other students or the chaperone) and she learned how to rely on others and how to navigate a foreign world and is now confident to be a world traveler, and now she is in New Zealand where she is learning the value of home even in the face of such incredible natural beauty that she almost wants to stay there. She has roots here at home, and wings to fly and see the world and the people and cultures God has made, and she is a strong and confident young woman (currently going through a "what do I want to do with my life" junior year crisis.) To which I have told her….no matter what you choose to do, God loves you, and I love you… no matter what.
Good word for all parents.
Ron – thank you for your post. My Brooke will be 4 in October, and is my treasure. Our story is a little sad, and a little messy, but it has God's fingerprints all over it. Her Mom left me when she was 6 months pregnant, so being her Dad has not looked the way that I thought it would. Brooke and I have had to learn to trust each other in the time that our gracious God has afforded us to be together which unfortunately, is not every day. But He is good. Being a dad, especially to a daughter, even in the best of circumstances, is a process of leaning into God as we learn over and over that there are so many things we cannot control. This teaches us to pray.
I tell Brooke she is beautiful, but I also make it a primary aim to tell her that she is brave, kind, smart, strong, obedient, loving, fun, and funny. When I'm telling her these truths I put my finger to her sweet little chin and say 'look in my eyes baby.' I ask for her forgiveness often. I tell her that Jesus is stronger than Daddy. We pray for her Mom. I create space for her to tell the truth. And I tell her as often as I can that 'I love you no matter what.' I play with her, sleeves rolled up and lying on the carpet, unencumbered. When she goes back to her Mom's house, I tell her that I will be thinking of her, praying for her, and that Jesus is with us. 'I'll see you in just one day baby.' 'One day, daddy.'
What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.
I have two daughters who are 5 and 2 (and planning on adopting another daughter). Since each girl has been born, I keep a journal for each of them where I write about life, about our faith and why I believe it is important, funny things they have done, and share life with them. I have made a goal where I will share verbally what I am writing in the journal. I don't want it to be a secret- but when they read it to see that I've tried to live in the way that I teach them to. I plan on giving the journals to each of them on their 16th birthday and prayerfully hope it becomes a treasured gift of theirs.
All of those are so good! Thanks! We together, my hubby and I raised two daughters and did all of the above and believe me the principles there reaped amazing adults! One is a worship leader at her church, amazing in gifts of service to her community. The other one is an Army Wife, she leads out in the FRG and is amazing with the gift of hospitality and care.
We also did this:
Set up clear Godly family boundaries so when she “grows through” life transitions, times of change that flux her emotions like crazy and has to deal with the cultural “say so” that she will have to sift through by the TRUTH that she knows, she will be enclosed and protected by The Infinite Love Of God And The Sovereign Will of God, that go hand in hand as they support our Godly Family Boundaries. I will teach her as she bumps and pushes against these Godly Family Boundaries that the Love of God wants her to enjoy the age she is in, get every benefit out of that age as the Sovereign Will of God holds her place with His Godly standards and morals in times such as these. I will love her unconditionally, own her emotions, respect her fully and listen to her actively, making sure that the Godly Boundaries that surround our home are not just of Sovereign Will, but also are of Infinite Love. I have said: “I love you, but NO, not now, enjoy the age that you are in, experience it to the fullest because that is what God has for you now.” “I love you, but NO, I know you don’t understand, but we agreed on our Godly Family Boundaries, they are what is best for you and that decision stands” “I love you and you are doing so well, but the answer is NO at this time because your level of maturity in this desire, your responsibility you have shown is not yet equal at this time to the freedom you want. Wait! Give yourself time to grow into it, you are not ready yet for this freedom.” All three of my children have come back to thank us for keeping up Godly boundaries and for loving them as individuals, by giving them age related freedom in line with the proof of their responsibility to handle them. “I love you, I understand the why you want to, but look, look at Jesus, look what He has set up for us, it is in the long run, the better choice.”
Thanks for the post. I AM raising a daughter today … well FOUR, actually! They are 7, 5, 3 and 7 weeks old right now and this echoes my heart and desire for them.
While I’m sure I’ve missed a day somewhere along the line, they hear me tell them I love them each (and multiple times) day. They hear me talk about how great their mother is and how blessed we are to have her.
I cannot WAIT to see how God shapes their lives for His service in the days ahead. One is a strong leader, another is compassionate on every living critter (mouse, frog, butterfly, etc) she can find outside, the third is super-motherly and the 4th … we’ll find out in due time. 🙂
I think they’d all agree that our regular trips to Dunkin Donuts for “Daddy Daughter Dates” are prime times together.
We have 2 daughters, Ron. 4yo and a 14-month-old.
The oldest is adventurous, artistic and articulate. Quick with a laugh and full of questions (at least 100 a day). She's super stubborn and yet super spiritual. When she prays, I tell God, "good luck not answering that one." She's persistent and asks with expectation and great faith. She's an inspiration.
The youngest is my cuddly comedian. Her personality is really starting to come out. She's quick to please and loves to share. She brings me great joy.
This is probably an adventure in missing the point but I think one of the most important things I did when raising my daughter was knowing how desperately she needed her mother and the counsel that only a woman could provide for her and praying that God would give me the wisdom to know when it would be best for me to step aside.
Thank you for this. I am raising a daughter who has just turned 12. She is wonderful a n means the world to my wife and I. We pray with and for her and her brother daily. It has been announced today that a leading barrister here in the UK has said that the age of sexual consent should be lowered to 13. As a father this is very concerning! I pray that all fathers will follow your advice, pray and share quality time with their daughters/ children.
I'm raising 3 daughters and although i try to teach them all of these things I sometimes forget. Something else that I do is let them know that when i have to discipline them it's not because I'm mad at them but it's because I love them. I tell them that if I didn't love them then I wouldn't care what they did and therefore I would never discipline them. As for the part about demanding respect from boys my girls are all 10 and under but I'm already teaching them that they are priceless and that because of that they need to remember that no one has the power to make them feel worthless unless they give it to them. As they get a bit older I will be applying this concept to their interactions with boys.
As obvious as it seems, when I chose John to be my husband, it never occurred to my young heart and mind that I was choosing the father of my children. I remind my girls of this all the time. I am so grateful to the Lord he was looking out for my children because my children couldn't have a better father. I also tell my girls to marry a man who makes them laugh….I know this isn't deep philosophically, but often the important things aren't.
This applies to my son in choosing a wife; he's choosing the mother of his children.
It’s slightly ironic you posted this today, our first child, Shea is due today. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking to my wife about different tactics and things I want to make sure we do as parents for her. Of course we get all sorts of advice from friends, parents, and in-laws but I realized the other night that I haven’t been looking to God much for this parenting thing. I’ve been so caught up in thanking Him for all the blessings we already have and asking him for a healthy baby that I’ve neglected talks about my parenting abilities. So pray for me Ron because we will find out soon whether “daughter raising” was a talent God blessed me with!
He's blessed all of us with that talent if we will live it out intentionally. Proud for you Daniel. Congratulations. Great days ahead.
God bless you, it is such a joy to raise the children God gifts us with and they come out so tiny and your parenting grows with them as you cling to God and dig your roots deeply in relationship with HIM. He's got this and you follow HIM!
My daughter is a beautiful 9-yr old bottle of joy in my life. She is our only child and God gave her to us as a gift and I treat her as such. Anytime you have a gift, you treat it with kindness and tenderness because someone took the time and made it just for you. She is smart, spiritual, and gifted and I work hard not to allow her to waste her gifts, they too are precious.
There is no place I would rather be than somewhere taking care of her and teaching her the necessary life lessons to prepare her for the future. While I might not always be with her and might not always be able to influence her choices and decisions, I want to give her the tools she needs to make those good ones. I praise God daily for my wife and my daughter, it’s because of them that I wake each day.
Amen. Great word dad.
Our daughter Rosie is only 6 1/2 months old, but she's already clearly a "daddy's girl." She has a particular smile and laugh reserved for me, and my wife does a fantastic job staying with her during the day and being OK with Rosie's obvious favortism when I arrive home. 🙂 Pray for us please, as we hope to give her a brother or sister (or both) in the coming years. Thanks for the encouraging post!
Great prayer request. And love the term “daddy's girl”.
I have a "Rosie" too 🙂 She is the youngest of 6 and the joy of this daddy's heart (a 'daddy's girl' for sure). What a joy it has been to see her grow up (now 14) while sitting in the front seat of my car on the way to school. You are a blessed man @millerd17. Soak it in, 'take' time, when other parents tell you that 'time goes by so fast' pause a moment and consider that because it does-it truly does. May your quiver, and joy, be full!
I agree, it does go by so fast, and making memories is the greatest gift God gives us as parents! Miraculous memories, they bring such joy when your nest is empty. Heavenly Hindsight!
My daughter is a peace seeking beautiful soul. She is graceful and grace filled. At almost 14 she looks 17 so her dad and I stand defensively between her and the boys telling them she's one of most valuable gifts and we will protect her with everything we have. She is blessed with intelligence, responsibility, and problem solving. She creates art through words, and music, and paint. Family, friends, teachers, passerbys are blessed when my daughter touches them. She loves God and shares His love through worship music. She tells us she wants to plant a church, travel the world, start 10 different businesses, and adopt her children. Ill tell you about my incredible little men of God in your next post but why God thought I deserved such a beautiful gift of life in my daughter I will never understand.
I love this. What a great tribute!
that sounds almost exactly like Michelle. She is 14 also. We are both truly blessed to have such wonderful daughters.