As a father I ask big questions of myself, regularly. I’m not sure if that’s normal, but I do. I often wonder if what I’m doing is the right thing. Am I being too strict, too soft, overreacting because I’m tired or because there is something else going on in my life?
I certainly question myself a lot more when it comes to my 11-year-old daughter. It’s interesting because I can’t see my relationship with her quite as clearly as the one I have with my 9-year-old son. But that’s because I can relate to him in a different way. We are males, I was a boy once. I get it.
What I do have with my daughter is something very special. Like most fathers with daughters would tell you, you would do anything in the world, whatever it takes, to make things okay for them, to make them happy and to keep them safe.
Being a man, I’d say without hesitation, I’d take a bullet for my daughter. I’d wrestle a shark or fight off an intruder. But that then leads me to ask the next big question. Would I do the toughest thing for a bloke and become vulnerable? Could I be really honest with myself about my flaws and my own personal issues? Would I take action to help myself? Because this is the greatest thing I can do for my daughter. In order to give her what she really needs, I must aim to be the best bloke I can be, because that’s when I’m going to be the best dad and more importantly, the best role model.
I’d take a bullet for my daughter. I’d wrestle a shark or fight off an intruder. But… would I do the toughest thing for a bloke and become vulnerable?
What I’ve learned since starting BetterDads is that it’s not the heroic action of saving the day that will keep our daughters happy and safe. Rather, it’s the confidence we help them build in themselves. Giving them the ability to make the right decisions when the big decisions need to be made.
There are many discussions and articles written about fathers dealing with tween or teen daughters, but for me, there is no formula. It is simply not possible to step into your daughter’s life at such an age and expect to play a major role. We must be actively engaging with our daughters from a young age and most of all we need to be present. Everything we do, our behaviour at home, how we treat their mums and how we treat them, has a huge impact on the human beings they will become and the values they will develop.
Our daughters will search out the qualities and flaws in others that they see in us. The relationships they have will be massively influenced by the one they have with us. They say that daughters marry their fathers, and if that’s the case, when my daughter’s motorbike loving, tattoo wearing, bearded boyfriend knocks on the door, I’d better give the guy a chance. With this said, the only thing that is really in our control is our own actions. So maybe it’s time we all took a good look at ourselves, because our daughters deserve it.
By Alex Laguna
Avery Magazine's TIPS FOR DADS OF DAUGHTERS
LOVE HER MOTHER: Treat her with respect and don’t be afraid to express your love for her in front of your daughter.
TELL HER SHE IS PRETTY AND SMART: Remind her often that you think she is beautiful inside and out. Teach her that her self-worth is not reliant on her physical appearance.
SPEND TIME WITH HER: She needs your attention. Make sure she knows she is your number one priority.
OPEN UP: Show her your sensitive side. It’s OK for her to see you cry and express your emotions. Be available to her.
BE RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS: Be aware of how you speak to or refer to others, especially women. She will look to you to form her ideas on what to expect from men.