So let’s start with the most obvious — Your daughter’s body self-image. I cannot imagine what it must be like to grow up as a girl in today’s culture. One trip to the grocery store (and I try to avoid that place) tells you all that you need to know about what our culture values when it comes to a girl’s physical appearance. Even after the same magazines that portray a certain unattainable image go on and print an “expose” on how celebrities are airbrushed to carve away pounds and remove natural imperfections in their skin, our daughters still view themselves through the lens of all of those magazines near the check-out stands.
The sad reality is that we live in a world that oftentimes places more emphasis on a girl’s outer beauty than on her inner beauty. And that emphasis has been since time began.
You have a limited time to influence how she views herself. Don’t waste a moment of it. Tell her early and often that she is as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. And emphasize the inner beauty for its lasting qualities that time cannot wrinkle or sag.
So, what about those non-physical attributes? Make sure that you identify to her that you compliment her other qualities, like her emotional maturity, her sense of humor, her fierce loyalty to her friends, her intelligence, and her courage. And yes, it is important for girls to have courage! Make it clear that what you love most about your daughter are her non-physical attributes, and that even without her physical features, you would still love her just as much.
I am not sure if it is possible to overdo positive verbal affirmations.
Girls still need physical assurances of your love as they turn into young women. For many dads, physically affirming our daughters is a bit scary, particularly as they mature and begin to become “young women”. Dad, let me assure you: more than ever, your daughter needs your affirmations in ways she can physically feel.
Without ongoing physical affection, your daughter might think you don’t care anymore or that something has gone wrong with her, particularly if you used to be affectionate but have withdrawn affection as your daughter has grown older because you find it awkward.
If you grow cold toward her, physically or otherwise, she will go looking for affection and warmth in other places, and these might not be healthy or appropriate places for her. Someone will sense what she needs and give her something resembling love and affection. But it will be potentially hollow and harmful.
So look for appropriate ways to show her affection: a kiss on her forehead, an arm around her shoulder, or a squeeze of her hand. And she may not admit it, but she still needs big bear hugs, too.
Next, find out what “turns her on”. No! I didn’t mean it that way!
Find out what her interests are. Playing “tea party” when they are little is easy. Finding a connection to her interests as she gets older will become a much greater challenge. But find a way. Show her that she is worth investing your time and your energy.
And also look for activities the two of you can enjoy together. Try some things that neither of you have thought of before. And remember to look for an adventure—big or small—that only a dad can do with his daughter.
I know it’s tough when our daughters have different interests, and most of us don’t understand the female sex that well in the first place. If you try hard enough, I am confident that you can find some “feminine” interests that you enjoy doing with her and your daughter can find some “masculine” interests that she can enjoy doing with you. The point is to try.
So what can we do this week to let her know we think she is beautiful inside and out?
- Speak positively to her Verbally point out the positives—at least six or seven times more often than you focus on the things she needs to improve. Point out qualities of her inner beauty more than physical beauty.
- Make spending time with her a top priority Block off time on your calendar to have lunch with your daughter at school or wherever you can. Do it as often as you can.
- Do something intentional with her Pick an activity that she enjoys and do it together. Make this activity something that she is looking forward to.
- Dad, you are the template that she will use to measure Mr. Right Make sure that you are creating a worthy template so that the one she spends a lifetime with will be worthy of her love.