This special post is by Michelle Watson, PhD, LPC, author of “Dad, Here’s What I Really Need From You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart”.
I had the good fortune of receiving an advance copy of this outstanding book. Please share it with every Dad of daughters. I know it will bless them.
You can get your copy here: Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart
Are you old enough to remember the craze in the 60’s and 70’s where really cool prizes (a.k.a. “cheap gimmicks”) were tucked inside cereal boxes? I can still see my sister and I begging my mom to buy the kind with the most alluring prizes, regardless of whether we even liked the cereal (whichI’m sure set a foundation that continues to be in place today because I’m still a sucker for a deal!).
One of my favorite prizes was a decoder ring that instantaneously transformed me into Sherlock Holmes as I had the cryptic tool to solve the mystery on the back of the box. The thing that sticks in my mind about decoder rings is that they instantly provide the link between the problem and the solution. Without the magic ring the problem is left unsolved and unanswered.
If you’re a dad to a daughter, the question I pose to you is this:
Do you ever wish you had a decoder ring to better translate, understand, and relate to her?
Especially if she’s hit that age (a.k.a. puberty) you most likely have wondered what tool you need in your toolbox to actually decode her. Maybe she used to be easy to relate to while now you’re feeling left high and dry in the resource department. Maybe she used to love you singing songs to her when tucking her in bed but now she’s too cool for all that.
Dr. James Dobson, in his book Bringing Up Girls calls this stage “juvenile puberty,” a time where high levels of estrogen in the female brain lead to changes in mood (greater anxiety, anger, irritability), behavior (self-absorption that is often viewed as selfishness), and thinking patterns (inflexibility, obsessive focuses—boys, clothes, body, etc.).
The reason I’m telling you this is to place in your hand one kind of “decoder ring” to give you greater understanding of what’s happening in your daughter as she is growing and maturing.
The truth is that we girls don’t have control over what’s happening in our brain at this adolescent stage (and sometimes a bit past adolescence). We don’t make this happen and we don’t know what is actually going on inside of us. All of a sudden everything changes. This also means we don’t know how to explain it to you either, Dad.
If you’re anything like the dads of daughters I lead in The Abba Project, you are often left scratching your head and wondering where daddy’s little girl went. Your confusion might easily lead you to make a reactive decision, which is to back away and turn to mom and say, “here, you’re a girl; you go in.”
Dobson continues by asking the question: What does a girl need from her parents when everything has gone topsy-turvy? The answer, he says, is more attachment, not less.
To further underscore the point he adds, “even when she is most unlovable, she needs love and connectedness from her mother, but also from her father.” Dad, I implore you to bring yourself to your daughter. She needs your male energy, even if she doesn’t know she does.
It is here where things can get a little more complex. Sometimes when your daughter starts being more unpredictable and moody, it sets off something in you that you may not like about yourself or that makes you feel like you don’t have control. Here is how my dad said it to me awhile back:
“Michelle, I guess the reason we clash a lot is because we are so much alike. I see in you so much of me.” It’s my intensity and perfectionism that activate something in my dad (and me) that often causes us to bonk heads, and these are things that he doesn’t necessarily like in himself either.
So what do you need to do to be a dialed-in dad who is sensitive to your ever-
changing daughter even with all the up’s and down’s for each of you?
Let’s go to Scripture and read about an incredible dad who did get it right with his daughter. In fact, he will give you six words to make you a better dad today.
Caleb is one of the spies who, along with his friend Joshua, went into the Promised Land when there were giants inhabiting it. But instead of being intimidated, these two guys saw with eyes of faith and believed that God would keep His promise to give them their land regardless of all the overwhelming odds.
Fast forward to the time where Caleb is living out his role as a dad to his daughter. Her name was Achsah and she was a woman of faith and courage, a woman with a voice who wasn’t afraid to ask for what she wanted. It’s obvious that her dad had modeled to her what it meant to be bold and forthright.
Let’s pick up the story in Joshua 15, verse 18:
“One day when Achsah came to her husband, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”
I LOVE that question from dad to daughter! It’s so simple yet so profound. These are six words that every dad should memorize and use regularly. I believe they literally will change the way your daughter interacts with you if you put these into practice.
Caleb brings himself to his daughter’s problem. He is willing to invest his own time and resources to help her. (And it’s worth noting that he was still a dialed-in dad even after his daughter was married).
Notice the freedom of honest clarity that flows from Achsah’s mouth as she responds to her dad’s question. She replied,
“Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.”
She boldly asks him for something that is important to her. She obviously knew that she had the foundation of relationship with her dad to ask him for a “special favor.” There was no fear there. She knew he would listen. She trusted that he would respond.
And the amazing thing is that he does it for her. We read that,
“Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.” (v. 19)
- Do you notice how easily she responded to her dad’s question without holding back?
- Do you notice how Caleb gives his daughter more than she asked for?
- Do you notice that he offers himself as the solution to her request?
Dad, I encourage you to begin making these six words a regular part of your interactions with your daughter. I promise that they will be a life-changer in the way your daughter responds to you!
Thanks Caleb for being a fantastic role model of a dialed-in dad. Would that there be more dads in the 21st century who follow in your footsteps.
Dr. Michelle Watson approaches life and relationships with one ear turned upwards, listening to her Abba Father’s voice, and another turned horizontally towards His kids. Whether in her counseling office or speaking to teens, women, or dads, she seeks to keep it real while pointing to her Healer. Her first book will be released on September 1, 2014 as a resource to help dads with daughters entitled Dad, Here’s What I Really Need From You: A Guide to Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart. You can read more about The Abba Project and her ministry to dads at drmichellewatson.com.