an open letter to fathers of daughters

i went to a women’s retreat with my church a couple of months ago.  women’s retreats are like my own personal purgatory.  i more or less hate them.  but for the first time ever, i willingly chose to attend one.  they hooked me with, “you’ll have a lot of free time that you will not be required to do anything with.”  they didn’t lie.  i met several women, heard a handful of life stories.  people tend to just tell me stuff.  which is weird to me because i’ve never thought of myself as particularly inviting.  anyhoo, there was a common thread through most of the stories that got me thinking.  this letter is gist of my thoughts.

dear fathers of daughters,

do you have any idea how critical your approval is to your girl?  the entire foundation of her self-worth lies in your hands.  she will base her relationship choices on the example she gets from you.  treat her mother and her with respect, she will look for respect.  withhold affection, she will settle for crumbs.

a woman i met recently told me her father rarely, if ever, told her he loved her.  she said, “i think he did, but i’m not really sure.”  how profoundly sad.  in her forties, she still struggles with knowing whether or not her husband loves her.

a daughter’s self-worth is directly tied to how much her father values her.  do you treat her as the jackpot or the consolation prize?

the vast majority of women i meet who struggle with choosing men who do not value them, have broken relationships with their fathers.  broken can take many forms.  it runs the gamut from abuse to simple disinterest.

tell her you love her.

tell her she is worthy of respect.

tell her she does not have to settle.

tell her you believe no one will ever be good enough for your little girl.

be kind to her.

be strong for her.

be the standard for who you want her to choose.

oh so sincerely,

sharideth

ladies, what kind of relationship do you have with your father and does it color the way you choose/have chosen men?

fathers, what do you do to let your daughter know her worth or that you love her?

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16 comments on “an open letter to fathers of daughters

  1. PaulSuperapple says:

    I tell my 7yo daughter every day. She is amazing and this, she will know, as long as I’m breathing. Yesterday she finally mastered riding her bike, which was a great opportunity to boost her self-confidence. Thanks for putting it in a concise little note, great post.

  2. Amanda says:

    This left me a wee bit teary.

    I love my Daddy. He’s a rock and is most definitely the standard that he wants me to choose. He’s quiet and observes what’s going on, so his opinion is a big deal. His quietness is also terrifying to some guys. I think it’s his way of weeding out the pansies.

    Guys, if a girl is close with her dad, pay attention to that. Don’t assume that you know how to “do life” better than he does. Don’t assume that you know his daughter better than he does. Don’t assume that you can take the place of her father in her life (you can’t, and frankly that’s weird). And never ever mess with his little girl. He’s watching you. At all times.

    It’s my dad’s birthday today. Nice timing, Sharideth.

  3. kristinherdy says:

    I was crying – because I did not have a good relationship with Dad or step-Dad and it make me seek out affirmation in the worst possible ways from men. ok, it didn’t make me, but that’s the path I went down. I never heard I love you, but heard plenty of “jokes” about how I should put a paper bag over my head 😦

    my girls will know they are loved and beautiful and worthy of love and respect.

  4. Jon M. says:

    I wrote a post just for my daughter on her 14th birthday last week that reflects a lot of what you wrote about. Thanks for approaching this topic!
    http://authenticramblings.com/family/a-letter-to-my-daughter/

  5. Jenn says:

    This is a big o’can o’worms for me. I will say that all I wanted was for my father to cheer me on in life and protect me- and because I was the geek and seemingly self sufficient this wasn’t often tangible – I was left to interpret actions as love and support.

    My father and I did not have a good relationship until 3 years ago – long story short he knew I was being abused by someone and didn’t do anything to intervene – nor did my mom for the record. I’ll leave you to fill in why they didn’t do anything. I through extensive therapy learned that the only way to get to working on our relationship was to go through the sh*t. We still have a really long way to go but my dad and I work on it – it’s been really hard. I still look at the pictures of us when I was a baby – I see the love in his face. I know I’ve always been his little Jenny but I just wish he could have reminded me of that in the really rough years with his action and words.

  6. I have no concrete evidence of this, and plenty of likelihood I’m wrong, but I’m predicting I’ll have daughters one day. So long as I get one boy out of the deal, I’ll be fine, but that’s just the feeling I get, that I’ll have daughters.

    Is that a blonde Shania Twain on ol’ boy’s shirt?

  7. JBen says:

    I would very much love to have a daughter if for no other reason than to unleash a young woman into the world who knows that her father thinks she is the greatest thing in the whole world.

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