How fathers can raise godly, self-confident girls
For years, we have heard about the impact of absent fathers (or father figures) on boys. But I believe girls need their Daddies just as much.
Why is this important?
The presence of a father helps a girl build healthy self-esteem and identity and become self-assured. A girl, loved, honoured and celebrated by her father, is afforded a greater chance of living a godly, effective life. She is also able to relate to others, including God and other men, healthily.
When things go wrong
When a father is physically, financially or emotionally absent, studies have indicated that it can severely impact a girl’s physical, psychological, spiritual development and her transition into adulthood. Girls with absent fathers may fall prey to teenage pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, prostitution and substance abuse, etc. Their achievement levels at school may be stunted. Later on, they may struggle with relationships (including relationships with men) and the desire to fill the gap makes girls, young ladies and women vulnerable to being preyed upon by others.
Of course, many other factors can affect a girl’s formative years, such as rape (Tamar), rejection (Leah) and abuse, but I want to keep the focus on the pivotal role fathers play in safeguarding the future of their daughters.
Myths girls wished fathers would ditch
Below are just a few examples of myths I have come across, which do far more damage than fathers will ever know.
- “Girls are a burden. It’s so much easier with boys.”
- “Raising of girls is solely the mother’s responsibility.”
- “I don’t need to hug my daughter, tell her I love/value her or show interest in her. After all, I feed her, clothe her and put a roof over her head.”
- “Hanging out with my daughter and spending time with her is not a manly thing to do.”
- “Girls are not as precious/important as boys.”
You might think, ‘Surely no one thinks like that’, but after 21 years of coaching and mentoring women, I hear stories and see the negative impact it has on their adult life. Furthermore, as a magistrate sitting in both the adult and family courts, you hear echoes of a past with ‘Daddy’ not playing his role.
This article is not meant to vilify anyone, however. My primary goal is to raise awareness and nudge all of us raising girls (including women) to up our game, by modifying our attitudes and behaviours.
What girls want from their Dads
Firstly, I want to salute all the godly fathers out there. Thank you for your efforts in raising godly, self-assured girls.
Secondly, if you feel you need to make changes or there is room for improvement (as a result of reading this article), here is my list of what girls want from their Dads. Feel free to modify as necessary.
- Make her feel special: This doesn’t have to cost much (if anything). Discover her love language (we all have at least one) and treat her accordingly. If she is too young to articulate this, watch and learn. It will soon become obvious.
- Spend quality time with her: Carve out time to give her your undivided, uninterrupted attention. Let her know she is important, by focusing on her, without trying to multitask (e.g. checking your phone, etc.). This sends a strong, clear message. Do an activity together, like cycling or swimming; take a trip to the park or museum; watch her favourite movie, etc. Perhaps introduce a Father & Daughter Day to cement this.
- Pray and study God’s Word with her: Read the Bible (or Bible stories) together. Memorise Scripture together. Worship and pray together.
- Stand up for her: Please don’t do what King David did to Tamar, when her stepbrother, Amnon, raped her (2 Samuel 13). We never hear of King David taking action; we only hear of Absalom’s revenge.
- Listen and talk to her: Find out what is going on in her world, no matter how young she is. (Young girls experience life challenges too!) What are her concerns? Exams? Bullying? Her appearance? Friends?Boys? Listen and offer godly, fatherly advice. By doing this, you teach her to open up to you and, ultimately, to God as well. Oh, and pray with her (and for her) on the matter, and follow up by asking questions.
- Take an active interest in whatever interests her: Regardless of how silly or time-wasting it may appear to you, note that it is important to her. It could be a sport, practising a musical instrument, rehearsing a part or routine, a hobby or playing with her dolls.
- Celebrate her highs and be there for the lows: Don’t assume she knows you are proud of her. Tell her! As for the lows, uplift her through the Scriptures. Hugs are also nice. Have you noticed that women have similar needs too? Trust me, figuring out girls (and women) isn’t rocket science!
I encourage all fathers to reassess your relationship with your girls. Is there room for improvement? If so, take action – even baby steps. Trust me when I say it makes all the difference. As for fathers-to-be, now is the time to plan ahead. Let’s all play our part in raising self-assured, godly women of tomorrow, rather than allowing them to grow up wounded and hurt with emotional baggage in tow, because Daddy failed to step up.
Written by Grace Gladys Famoriyo – Speaker and Author of books, including: Overcoming Emotional Baggage; Quit Hiding, Start Living!; Bounce Back! and Healing A Discouraged Heart. www.gladysf.com