Growing up, I was one of the few persons whose father and mother lived in the same house. However my mother for the most part stayed at home and my father worked, therefore my mother was in charge of the ‘child rearing’ or ‘children stuff’ or ‘children matters’. My father was always resting, or needed quiet time or was watching television or had friends over that the children shouldn’t be near. He always seemed to be protected in a sense, from the mannerisms that were his children.
Did I mention that he had four girls and one boy!
… and so it began the quest of sorts to figure out who this man was and why I couldn’t bother him the way I bothered my mother. Growing up I watched him constantly, waiting for an opportune moment to tackle him, to capture his attention with an odd dance or a drawing (when my mothers’ watchful eyes were not looking). As I grew older I resented him, I was silently angry that he didn’t notice my brilliance. I then grew silent and unconcerned, our conversations were merely “pass the remote, please”; do you know where the remote is; occasionally he would ask, and “where is your mother and I would answer? There was no deliberate socialization however even in my pretend silence I yearned to figure out who my father was, he seems a continent far away and it haunted me.
As I became a parent of my own, I began to understand what providing for us girls may have been like and I began to read books and theories and allowed different perspectives into my psyche. I began to see the merit in our relationship. The stability he brought to the family and I consciously decided to expand our conversation whenever we met.
I was pleasantly surprised to know that my father knew of my brilliance, he kept track of everything in my life. He was proud, but his generation didn’t speak it, you have to pry it out of them.
The book “You have what it takes” by John Eldredge says it well. Every little girl is asking one basic question just like your boys, but it is a different question. You observe it in everything she does. She is asking Am I lovely? Do you see it, can you confirm it? As she grows you notice it in the games she plays, the movies she watches, and the songs she likes. At the end of every princess movie, the prince realizes that the princess is lovely, he sings and shouts out loud that he delights in her, that she is the one and everyone else is in awe. Walt Disney’s storyline for its princess movies are specifically engineered to capture the imagination of little girls, it is not a coincidence, it is a science.
All through the years your daughter is spinning, dancing, dressing up and, trying to look beautiful; crying when she feels she isn’t and she is trying to capture your attention. She wants to know, Am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for? She looks to the most important man in her life to answer it, her father. And the answer should always be YES!
A woman’s confidence is what gets her through life not her beauty or her talents. There is always someone who may be better than her, more talented, with more potential. However that never decides the race. Every princess has an inner dragon, a fire that burns to the depth of her being that says I will, I can and I will see you at the finish line.
Isn’t it wonderful that as a father you have been chosen to lay the foundation for the flame?
The truth is if you don’t answer the question, she will keep asking it until she gets an answer. Some of us are lucky to find God who answers our inner question and some of us are still asking the question, always getting the wrong answer.
Have you ever met a beautiful woman who had potential just pouring out of her but she was in an abusive relationship – no confidence, so far down the wrong road that you don’t know how to intervene. Psychologists say 9 out of 10 times they can track it back to her relationship with her father. If you don’t answer her questions another man will.
A mother shares everything with her daughter, she teaches her to be a woman yet there is room for more. My daughter looks to me to pick out her dresses and comb her hair and she is always interested in what I am doing. Every time my daughter dresses up, I sing Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t she lovely” and she blushes and dances and then without failing she turns around and goes to find her father to see if he is also blown away. She knows that if she was wrapped up in newspaper, I would still be singing. I often peak at her as she goes, as if walking down a runway, her eyes are focused on him and I can always tell her fathers reaction when she returns. You can see it plainly on her face she is either completely happy or furlong. Either way she seeks the validation.
In life a man’s greatest fear is failure, he wants to always be up to the challenge, to be worthy but a woman fear is abandonment. We want to be ever in your thoughts, and cemented in your hearts and that fear can cause a woman to compromise her beliefs.
As a father you have to let your daughters know that you will never abandon them, that come what may you will always be with them to pick up the pieces, because you believe in them, you see that they are lovely and brilliant. They will look for spouses who make them feel better than their father and if you set the bar at zero, then any man will do.
I pull one line from the book as I close, “identity, especially gender identity is bestowed by the father. A boy learns if he is a man, if he has what it takes and a girl learns if she is worth pursuing, if she is lovely.
Enjoy your relationship with your daughters, give them confidence and they will do the rest.
Article based on the book “Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul’