Something happened a few days ago that confirmed to me the importance of continuing to talk about your voice as a dad in the life of your daughter. In a small group of high school guys and gals we were looking back on the year 2012 and evaluating how we had grown both in our faith, and as people. We were also making goals for ourselves about how we wanted to grow in the new year in those things. Everyone spent time on their own thinking back on the year and when we gathered we decided to add something to the exercise. We went around the circle affirming each other one by one in things we all had seen in each other’s lives and the ways we had seen them move forward. People had really encouraging things to say to one another and talked of the courage, growth, faith, compassion, kindness and patience they had seen in each other. There was some great stuff and real compliments and it was a reminder to me to talk this way more often!
It came to one young gal and people were saying a lot of really incredible things that I am certain must have meant a lot to her. I went after everyone else had already said some very powerful things. I echoed what everyone else had said about her being a terrific leader, but added something I knew to be true. I told her how proud her father was of the person she is and who she is becoming. It was at those words that her eyes brimmed with tears, as did many others in the room. All of these amazing things were said and yet, the thing that seemed to resonate with every person in the room was the depth of meaning in those particular words. She is a great athlete, an amazing student, and someone who makes good choices in her life. And yet, it was obvious that if had I said that her dad was proud of her athleticism, her grades, or her making good decisions, it would not have elicited the same reaction. However, she heard that her dad was proud of WHO SHE IS, not just what she does or accomplishes, and she believed it and knew it to be true because of how he has proven that to her.
Most of our affirmation comes in the form of “good job”, “way to go”, or “that was great” type statements rather than character and personality affirmations. It was a good lesson and reminder to me about the ways I compliment people and also a great reminder of the power of a father’s love and affirmation of his daughter.
Does your daughter know what you think makes her uniquely “her”? Does she know you are proud, not just of her most recent soccer game, but of the person she is becoming. I have realized that young people sometimes need truth spoken into their lives that they can grow into. They may not entirely be there yet, but they need something to strive for and to live into. Dads, your role is HUGE in this. Your daughter is looking to know to what to look for in her friends, her boyfriends and her future spouse…..what does it look like to have someone look past the face, the body, the accomplishments, and the resume to see the real “you”? You get to show her!