It was a seemingly simple question.
As the home’s resident sports fanatic, my husband is in charge of all things athletic in our family. So when Molly recently needed new soccer cleats again (poor child, she may actually soon exceed my honkin’ size 9-1/2 specimens), Mike asked her if she wanted to go with him to pick out a new pair.
Molly (with a deep, dramatic sigh): “Do I have to?”
Dad: No, you don’t have to, but I thought you might want to.
Molly: Okay, but do we have to go now?
Dad: No, but we have to go soon so we can be back in time for dinner.
Ten minutes pass.
Dad: I'm leaving. Are you coming?
Molly: I’m just finishing up a conversation on Facebook. I’ll be there in a little bit.
Dad rolls his eyes and leaves.
Me: Molly, you know that wasn’t really about soccer cleats, right?
Molly: Huh? What are you talking about?
Me: Your dad just wanted to spend some time with you. The soccer cleats were just a way to do it.
Molly: Oh, well, geez, I didn’t know that. Why didn’t he just say that he wanted to spend time with me?
Sigh. Such is the dance between dads and their tween and teenager daughters.
It wasn’t so long ago, that Mike and Molly's relationship was sweet, relaxed, effortless. Then seemingly overnight, daddy’s little princess became a bit of a pouty, preteen pill. And "sweet" soon became sour and surly.
The first male relationship a girl has is with her father. And learning how to relate to Dad even as she’s learning to assert her own independence is an important skill that she’ll need to build healthy future relationships with boyfriends, husbands, employers, friends and teachers. Most importantly, a good connection with Dad also helps her establish a healthy view of and relationship with her Heavenly Father.
One of my girlfriends and I were discussing this topic the other day and decided that we need to be deliberate about teaching our daughters three things about men that will save them years of headaches, heartaches and hours in the therapist’s office:
1. Listen. Men want to be heard, noticed and appreciated. A little bit of understanding goes a long way.
2. Respect. Most men crave respect more than anything else. It makes them feel valued and honored.
3. Show interest in what interests them. Last night, Molly voluntarily joined her dad in watching the Yankees/Rangers playoff game. He was downright giddy.
All those things empower men, but they give women power, too. There's not a whole lot a man won't do for a woman who genuinely makes him feel honored and appreciated. No nagging, whining or manipulating necessary.
Heck, he may just take you shoe shopping -- even when it's not soccer season.
What are some things you think are important to teach our daughters about men?