This is a guest post from Dr. Michelle Watson, founder of The Abba Project, aimed at helping dads to connect with their daughters during a crucial, yet confusing (for dads) time in their daughters’ lives. Michelle talked about the influence of a father on episode 8 of the BoldIdea Podcast.
I’ve got a challenge for dads… Father’s Day may now be behind you, and regardless of how well you’ve done this past year, proclaim this day as the first to step up your game even more.
It’s a bold idea—especially as a dad—to figure out how to step into your daughter’s life in a braver and bolder way than ever before. You’ll most likely be doing things you never thought possible, things that might even make you feel a bit uncomfortable or less than competent. But I know you’ll do whatever it takes to reach her heart, even if it’s out of your comfort zone.
To reach that goal, may I suggest a five-step path for boldly engaging your daughter’s heart in order to ensure your rank among other courageous, risk-taking, valiant dads who are stepping up to put their love for their daughters into action.
For easier recall, let’s use your hand as a template for these five things:
- Thumb. According to relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, a healthy relationship needs five deposits to every one withdrawal, so make sure to build her up five times more than you correct her. Ask yourself: How often do I communicate my disapproval with a “thumbs down” in contrast to the times I give her a “thumbs up” to celebrate her successes?
- Pointer finger. Point her in the right direction by the choices you make, even behind closed doors. Be aware that she will follow after you because she longs for your approval. Ask yourself: By the way I live my life, in what direction am I pointing her?
- Middle finger. Need I say more?! But what if your tallest finger became your reminder not to “give your daughter the finger” in moments of anger and rage, but instead to stand tall with personal integrity by modeling the very attributes you want her to embody? Ask yourself: Am I leading with anger or am I treating her in a way that leads her to stand tall with confidence?
- Ring finger. This finger is typically reserved for the ring that tells the world she has a forever love. Ask yourself: How have I shown love to my daughter today through my words, attitudes, and actions? (because if you don’t show your love, she won’t know your love)
- Baby finger. The most fragile of all the fingers, this one reminds us that a daughter’s vulnerable heart is most beautiful when it is open, which happens naturally when treated with tender loving care. Ask yourself: Have I responded to her with gentleness and kindness, respect and love today?
The truth is that a woman with an open heart will not only change the world, but will engage the world in the way her heart has been engaged. You, dad, have a key role in facilitating that process.
Let today be the day you push past your limits to boldly engage your daughter’s heart…just to prove that you can!
A version of this post originally appeared on drmichellewatson.com.