Fathers have incredible influence (positive or negative) on nearly every aspect of their daughter’s life. A father sets a huge role model for his daughter regarding the qualities she looks for in a man and the standards she maintains in her relationships. He is the first man in her life and models how a man should treat a woman, how a man should act, and how a man shows healthy love and affection to a woman. He also sets the standard for how a daughter feels she deserves to be treated by men. He even determines how a girl feels about herself. If a father shows his daughter love, respect, and appreciation for who she is, she will believe that about herself as a woman, no matter what anyone else thinks. Girls deprived of this father love and affection make poor choices in an effort to fill that void. And a father’s spoken words are some of the most powerful voices in his daughter’s life.
Several years ago, my daughter Kelsey and I, were blessed to be asked to speak at a father-daughter conference. It was a powerful event that was attended by about sixty pairs of fathers and their daughters whose ages ranged from eleven to twenty-five years old. The conference was an all-day program consisting of seven sessions working with fathers and daughters together, fathers alone, and daughters alone by age group. Each session was designed to build upon the previous ones and included inspirational speakers, letter writing, trust building exercises, and father-daughter dialogues. The goal of the weekend was to help the fathers understand how important they are in the lives of their daughters, and how to foster a healthy connection with their daughters as they become young women. We also wanted to help the daughters recognize their need for a healthy relationship with their fathers and the consequences in their lives when that doesn’t happen. Finally, we wanted to help facilitate reconciliation between fathers and daughters who were struggling or had past wounds.
As the teenage girls arrived their body language strongly suggested that they did not want to be there, and many of them were actually cold and distant toward their fathers. The dads, of course, appeared a bit anxious and nervous. But as the day progressed and the speakers and workshops broke down those barriers, we began to see fathers and daughters talking, sitting closer to one another, and even laughing and hugging each other.
The event culminated in a “father blessing” of the daughters. I knelt in front of my daughter on stage and prayerfully offered my blessing to her publicly, stating that I loved her, I was proud of her, and asking God to bestow his blessings upon her. (Yes, it was difficult to keep from blubbering.) I don’t remember all that I said, but I do remember Kelsey then tearfully accepted my blessing and responded with gratitude and thankfulness for me being her father (stupid eyes wouldn’t stop watering). To then watch as each father knelt and blessed his daughter was a powerful and emotional experience. It was too much for one previously sullen young girl who threw her arms around her father, buried her face in his chest, and sobbed, “Oh Daddy, I love you so much!” Many fathers and daughters were in tearful embraces as we concluded the day’s activities.
Even though my daughter and I had a close relationship before this event, I truly believe that my publicly proclaiming a blessing over her changed and deepened our relationship. She appears much calmer around me now—more confident in my love for her. Even though I told her all those years growing up that I loved her, my willingness to risk humiliation to prove it must have somehow cemented it in her soul.
Men, you don’t need to attend a father-daughter event to bless your daughter. You can do it every day by speaking a blessing over her. When you speak into her heart all the things you love and cherish about her, you fill her soul with nourishment she will live on for the rest of her life.
Your father blessings can make the difference between a life of joy and contentment or one of anguish and despair. God has given fathers the ability through their words and actions to bless the lives of their children. As with all great power comes great responsibility. Use your power wisely and you in turn will be blessed by generations of your lineage being healthy, happy children of God.
Excerpted from Rick’s book, That’s My Girl: How a Father’s Love Protects and Empowers His Daughter, by Revell Publishing.