Daddy’s little girl. He’s wrapped around her finger. Daddy’s princess.
We’ve heard these classic phrases time and time again and they all perfectly describe the cherished bond between father and daughter. As mothers we often feel obligated to do it all and be the main caregiver for our children. It’s our maternal instinct to provide everything from kisses on boo boos to snuggles after nightmares but no matter what we do, we may never have the same type of connection like the one our husbands and daughters have. And that’s okay! After all, a father is one of the most influential people in a little girl’s life, helping to shape her self-esteem and expectations of how she should be treated. Plus, how wonderful would it be if, years from now, your little girl came to you with love in her eyes saying she’s finally found a man who is just like her daddy. Better brace yourself for some heart swelling.
Instead of trying to match this cherished relationship we mothers are charged with taking on a different task. Fostering the bond that will help shape your little girl into the woman she’ll become. Because it’s such an important relationship, I thought I’d list out some tips for every stage of your baby girl’s life.
Before she’s here
Fathers, and especially first time dads, may be intimidated at the thought of having a new baby in the house, even more so if that little one is a bouncing baby girl. Oh, the pressure! A great way to help put daddy at ease is to take him shopping! I know that probably sounds a little nuts but helping daddy ease into the world of bows, dolls, and PINK may limit the culture shock of the little girl department at your local Target. Who knows, he may even feel good enough to pick up something sweet for your little love on his own!
Because mothers tend to take on the brunt of childcare, especially during the first months, it can be easy to accidentally exclude the father from everyday tasks. This is definitely the case for breastfeeding moms who are literally hands on most of the day. Making sure you delegate certain tasks to daddy so he not only feels a part of the infant stage but also gives you some relief is a key part of the early father-daughter bond. Encouraging fathers who aren’t as comfortable around babies that they are doing a great job is also important. When you see the sheer panic in your husbands eyes when your little girl starts wailing in his arms don’t feel like you have to rush over and relieve him, simply reassure him he’s a wonderful father and that they are both getting used to one another.
Especially for fathers that work outside of the home, it’s important to create opportunities for quality time for a father and daughter to share together. Whether it’s nightly story time before bed or sweet dinner dates on the weekends making sure your hubby and little girl have some one-on-one time each week will help their relationship grow. When it comes to birthdays and other gift-giving holidays, don’t feel like you have to do all the shopping yourself. Take your husband with you so he can pick something special out just from him. Moms, you can also encourage a strong relationship by talking about daddy when he’s not home and planning trips to visit him at work! It’s a fun treat for your daughter to see where daddy is and what he does when he’s not at home.
The dating (gasp) years
Once your little girl is old enough to date, most dads feel their fatherly job description requires them to scare the bejesus out of any male suitor that may come a’ calling… generally with a shotgun in tow. A protective nature is good and to be expected when a father allows another man to take care of his little girl. But while intimidation might be all he really wants to do, the most important part of the dating years is for your husband to get to know the boys in your daughter’s life, boyfriends and friends alike. Not only will daddy be able to determine how his little girl is being treated, but it will also allow your daughter to see how her boyfriends get along with her father (and possible future father-in-law). Remember what I said about finding a guy just like her father? What better way to see if they meet the bill than to place them side-by-side? And yes, it’s his right as a daddy to make any possible boyfriends shiver a little so don’t be afraid to intimidate just a little!
The adult years
A daughter’s adult years are pretty simple. No matter if she’s married, a mother, divorced, childless, a world traveler, or a homebody, she always needs her daddy. If she’s living close enough, schedule visits. If she’s living across a large distance, schedule calls. Get to know her husband. Get to know her children. Remind your husband that while your little girl grows up and gives him new titles like father-in-law and grandpa, he’s first and foremost her daddy. And she will forever be daddy’s little girl. She will always have him wrapped around her finger. And he will always see her as a little princess.
And my last piece of advice moms, cherish each and every moment your husband and daughter share together, honor their special relationship, and watch yourself fall deeper and deeper in love with your hubby every time your daughter runs into his arms calling “DADDY!”