Do you ever find yourself going along in your adult life– loving your spouse, raising children, working to keep a household going– and then all of a sudden God reminds you of the little girl still living deep down inside of you? This happens to me so regularly I’m awestruck. My exterior may be a tough mama bear, but at my core– I’m still that vulnerable trio of wide-eyed wonder, fierce passion, and a touch of sugar and spice and everything nice.
I’m still a hopeless romantic.
I still dream of horses and castles.
And I still, very much, need my daddy’s love.
This past Valentine’s Day is a day I will never forget. My parents invited the whole family to go on a date altogether (how cute it that?) and they gave us each a sweet little gift and card.
Fun Fact: What you need to know about my parents is that they have division of labor down to an art form—for example, Mom cooks dinner, but Dad does the dishes, and Mom shops for gifts, but Dad shops for cards.
I expected no less as I lifted open the envelope to my Valentine’s Day card, noting Dad’s familiar penmanship on the front. I expected the usual: a giggle and a smile.
What I proceeded to read on that bright and glittery cardstock were words that changed me forever. It overflowed with a message of pride and encouragement that would have been touching coming from anyone. But THIS was the most powerful, wonderful, loving card I’ve ever received because it was hand-selected just for me by my Daddy.
My father is a brilliant man who is always kind, but mostly quiet when it comes to sentimentality. In fact, until February 14, 2017, I didn’t even know that he was particularly proud of me at all. I will never forget the impact of that moment, nor will I ever throw away that card. On the contrary, I will revisit it often and carry its essence with me for the rest of my life.
Sound cheesy? Maybe. But the truth is— what our Daddies believe about us has the power to make or break us as women.
There are 3 major things that every little girl needs her daddy to believe about her, and his ability to communicate them can shape the rest of her life.
1) He needs to believe she is smart and capable.
You know, it wouldn’t matter if everyone else thought I was a lost cause– so long as my dad believed I was capable of anything. His opinion is enough to carry me through any challenge and overcome any obstacle.
A little girl needs her daddy to believe in her abilities, value her mind, and encourage her strengths and pursuit of growth. This should be done verbally with words of specific affirmation, and also in deed by showing up for her daily and at special events. His presence will prove that he believes what he says about her.
When she fails, and she will, he should be her steadfast cheerleader. Rather than kicking her while she’s down, a father needs to tell his daughter that he still believes in her, still loves her, and knows she is destined for greatness.
2) He needs to believe she is beautiful and captivating.
Every woman has a hard-wired desire to feel beautiful and captivating in her own unique way. It emerges when we are very young and only grows and blooms with time.
A little girl needs her daddy to tell her she is beautiful. He should take every opportunity to sow seeds of encouragement into her by letting her know how lovely she is– both as a girl and as a person. This translates to her heart as “I am a princess. I’m the leading lady God designed me to be. Just ask my Daddy.” This isn’t about glorifying the physical body or perpetuating a culture of ridiculous expectations. It’s exactly the opposite. It’s about letting your little girl know she is beautiful regardless of how she compares to the social ideal, and it’s about speaking the language of your daughter’s heart. If you do this genuinely and often—she’ll believe you instead of the media.
A daddy has the ability to teach her what it means to be a lady and how a gentleman should treat her, too. Daddy-daughter dates and dances are PRIME opportunities to instill these values and beliefs.
A little girl also needs to feel interesting and special, and her daddy can show her that she is by paying attention when she speaks, expressing interest in the things she likes, and carving out time to be with her. When this is done right, a young woman enters adulthood knowing her worth and believing she is captivating.
3) He needs to believe she is precious and valuable.
A Daddy is the first man a little girl will ever give her heart to, and the way he treats it will determine what she expects from all future men. If he ignores it, tramples on it, or fails to treat her as the treasure she is, the imprint on her heart will be that this is normal and all she should expect. She will likely develop a belief that something is wrong with her—because if her daddy doesn’t love her well, who will?
Likewise, the way her daddy honors her body by treating her with purity, protecting her from others who won’t, AND covering his own body will absolutely set the tone for how she will treat herself (and allow others to) in the future. If her daddy treats her like a precious, valuable gift– that’s exactly how she will perceive herself.
Daddies can demonstrate that they believe their daughters are precious and valuable by making time for them. They need his fatherly affection, lots of playtime, and heartfelt conversation about the most important things in life. When she knows her value, she will expect others to honor it, too, and look for a partner who is just like her father.
Daddy– your daughter needs you just as much, if not more, than she needs her mother. She is relying on you to show her she’s smart, beautiful, and valuable. But there’s more. Her mother will teach her how to be a woman– she will groom her for tenderness, compassion, and all things feminine, but YOU have the completely irreplaceable role of teaching her how to relate to God.
She will begin her walk of faith by perceiving her Heavenly Father to be just the same as her earthly father. Yes, your choices now, what you sow into that little heart, will help determine her eternity. Teach her He’s a God of love, and that He’ll fill the gaps anywhere you (or she) falls short. Teach her to study His Word and demonstrate humility by pointing her always back to Him.
It’s a tall order, I know, but I believe in you completely. And more so, I believe in our Father in Heaven who dwells in you and is “able to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond all we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” (Ephesians 3:20). I know that when you “are weak, He is strong,” (2 Cor. 12:10). Press into Him for strength and guidance. Ask Him how to love your little girl well. He’ll show you exactly how to be her hero.
P.S. Let my Valentine’s Day story be a word of encouragement that it’s never, ever too late. Tell her today.
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