At the weekend I attended a Men's conference in Belfast, Mandate 2010 (a curious name ... I went to a 'man date' with 2000 other guys!). Whilst there, I attended Paul Reid's seminar on the father / daughter relationship. He was honest, funny and very helpful ... here are my notes:
There are no perfect fathers - only one, our Father in heaven. I can't take all the credit for our kids, neither can I take all the blame. Proverbs 22v6 is not to be used as an all binding promise.
It all begins with my relationship with my wife. Don't under estimate the impact of my relationship with Liz on Zoe & Lucy. They watch, learn and form their norm for the marriage relationship / relating with men.
Each daughter is different but they all need unconditional love. My girls need to 'feel' loved, not just know it. Daughters are emotional beings who thrive on unconditional love. Therefore avoid the 'behave-believe-belong' train of doing life, rather adopt the 'belong-believe-become' ethos. No relationship can flourish in an atmosphere of disapproval. Don't corner my girls into conformity by approval. Unconditional love is to be the foundation of our relationship.
They need to know they are my priority and that is reflected in quantity of time I give them. The 'boyfriend chat' is rooted in playing 'Polly Pocket' now. Affirm them as a woman and use appropriate physical touch. They need a father to affirm and admire their beauty without any motive other than unconditional love. Girls need dads increasingly as they get older. I need to stand at the head of my daughter's parade and be their chief supporter.
Few things can penetrate my daughter's heart as my foolish words, so be careful and seek forgiveness (Proverbs 18v21 & 15v4). Daughters see the 20% they can't do and think that disqualifies them. Sons see the 20% they can do and think they can do it all! Be interested in what they are interested in.
They need to hear me say "I'm sorry" but not everything is about me.
They need to be encouraged to follow Jesus in the way that suits their own personality.