When I found out that our first child was going to be a girl, I truthfully was heartbroken. My mind was convinced up until that point that I was going to have a boy. I had already decided on his name, planned his sports calendar (laid out by age/season), and unbeknownst to his mother, already had been buying clothes :-).
Looking back now, I believe it was simply the thought of raising a girl in today’s world that absolutely terrified me. Then she was born.
It’s agonizing to be unable to describe in words how much I adore and love her. The best example I can give is that it’s equivalent to watching your heart walk around outside of your body. In my life, the sun rises and sets with her. To me, she is living proof that God loves me in a way I do not deserve.
What I’ve come to understand is that raising a daughter is more than a blessing, it’s a privilege. Our daughter is now two years old and with a second baby girl due in October, I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned in this short amount of time:
You’re Going to Pick Her Husband
What a novel thought right? The scariest thing to me as a young father is that one day I will no longer be responsible for my daughter’s well-being, security, and care. In my mind, no man in this world will be able to love her and protect her heart better than I do. All any father wants for his daughter(s) is the absolute best.
Although I may not be able to pick the individual she chooses to marry, I will definitely be picking his character.
Understand that as her father, you are going to set the standard for what your daughter is looking for in her husband. You are the FIRST relationship that your daughter will have with a man and the primary relationship she will have for most of her young life. This will have a direct impact on how she frames what her husband should look like. She will accept no less than the way you treat her.
I made the decision early that my daughters will know what proper love, respect, and affection feels like.
They will know their infinite value and immeasurable worth.
They will know that the use and shape of their bodies should play zero role in the security of their relationships.
They will grow up watching their daddy love the Lord.
All the foundations you want see in the heart of her future husband, you are responsible for modeling yourself. Don’t take that lightly.
Proximity is not Presence
Put simply, physically being there does not truly mean YOU are there.
The typical highlight of my day Monday-Friday is getting home around 5:00pm and playing with my daughter non-stop for at least 30 minutes. I know how important it is when I am with her to be available, engaged, and attentive.
No matter what she wants to do, I want her to know from this young age that what interests her interests me as well. That mean’s if she wants to throw a tea party, I’ll grab the good china and set the table. If she wants to play tag, I’ll chase her around the house until my legs give out. And if she wants to stay up with me and have a VeggieTales binge session, I will hold her in my arms until the sun comes up.
Unfortunately for us as fathers, life has a convenient way of demanding substantial portions of our time. We live in an instant gratification society. Whether it’s your boss needing an answer that day, a bill that needs to be paid by 6pm that night, or the dry cleaning you’ve forgot to pick up for the past two weeks; there is always something else that needs to be done. All that doesn’t even take into account the amount of time we are on our phones. Many men spend more time with their iPhone then they do with their family.
I have been guilty at times of falling victim to this syndrome. Let me encourage you, these moments with her are fleeting and you cannot rewind time.
Is that tweet, e-mail, or call really worth it?
I make a conscious effort as soon as I walk through the door after work to put my phone in a different room. I don’t want to hear it, see it, or use it. Letting my daughter know that the time I spend with her is most important to me is my priority.
Mommy Comes First
If you truly want to be the best example for your daughter, love her mother and love her well! She is the queen of your home and your daughter(s) should not only understand that, they should see through your actions that you do as well!
Having a child is like holding up a mirror to oneself. My two year old daughter is my twin, we are alike in almost every way. I am so infatuated with her that sometimes I am guilty of losing sight of the amazing woman that is guiding her each and every day.
I have realized the healthiest thing I can do in our family is to love my wife passionately so that our daughters can see. Be affectionate, take her on dates, spend quality time, support her in every way. These things not only strengthen your relationship with your wife, but they set a clear example for your children on how a husband should treat his wife.
In my opinion, the role of being a mother is hands down the most difficult and demanding job there is on this planet. The fact that my wife can raise my daughter while still pouring her heart and soul into our marriage blows my mind. Husbands, love your wives, your daughter(s) are watching.