What Every Dad Should Know About Their Daughter


Last week I was dropping my daughter off for a birthday party.  As I was leaving a man stopped me asking for direction.  He was standing with one of my daughter’s school friends.  Immediately recognizing her I put my hand out and introduced myself explaining that our daughters sit together at lunch often.  His reaction was sarcastic as he gave his daughter a side-ways glance.  I didn’t fully catch what he said but whatever it was it didn’t honor his daughter in any way.  Looking at her I could tell this was not abnormal behavior.

I’ll be honest… I wanted to punch him.

It’s challenging to articulate the influence a father has on a little girl.  How much of his attitude and actions toward her can determine her future relationships.  I remember how much stock I placed in what my dad thought of me.  I remember how much I wanted him to be proud of me.  To affirm me.  To show me my value.

I remember how he would brag about me on the sidelines of the soccer field.

How he would tell me I’m beautiful.

How he would hug me so hard I couldn’t breath.

How often he reminded me as a teenager, “Never date a boy you wouldn’t marry.”
(What a way to narrow the playing field!)

Dad’s, don’t lose sight of the impact you have today on your daughter’s future.  Here are three things I encourage you to focus on:

Affirm Her

She looks to you for affirmation, encouragement, & guidance.  As she grows through puberty (ESPECIALLY, as she grows through puberty), she needs your voice reminding her that she is beautiful, valuable and worthy of love.  If she can learn to believe you, then she’ll believe her future husband when he tells her the same things.

Set the Standard

Be the husband you want her to have one day.  Enough said.  Is it difficult?  Yes.  Does it mean sacrifice?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  I watch my husband daily making changes to be a better husband and dad.  He’s amazing.  He demonstrates for our daughter the kind of man he wants her to marry one day.

Talk About the Standard

Talk about the future.  As you “Imagine the End” and think about the man you hope she marries… talk about it!  Let her know what you expect.  Set the bar.  She’ll do everything she can to jump over it.

Let me level with you, dad.  The more you affirm her today, the less she’ll seek affirmation in some teenage boy later.


264 Replies to “What Every Dad Should Know About Their Daughter”

  1. OMGosh! This is great! Your Dad and my Dad must have been cut from the same mold because when I started dating my Dad said the EXACT same thing! “Don’t date someone you wouldn’t marry.” Best advice! I’ve been married 30 yrs this year!! Thank you Dad!! He passed away 3yrs ago today!! 1-26-09 and I still miss him so much it hurts!! He was an amazing man!!

  2. Great post Gina!  Thanks so much for the reminders! I have always encouraged dads to pray that their daughters will marry a man better than them.  Praying that prayer has helped me to raise the standard for myself.  Raising daughters is hard work but the legacy we are trying to leave is worth it!

  3. A friend of mine shared on her FB wall. Good stuff. As a father of a 17 mo old daughter I am becoming increasingly aware of the impact a father has on his daughter. I just started reading an excellent book by Dr. Meg Meeker “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.” Outstanding read for all fathers and mothers. Thanks for the blog.

  4. Well said and well written.  I have printed this out for some very special people who have little girls.  Thank you

  5. I just lost my daddy about six weeks ago.  He was an amazing man.  When I was a teenager, he would take me for walks and talk with me for hours, telling me how I should never let my standards down.  He made it hard for me to settle for less when it came to finding a husband–and I’m so glad!  I never doubted his love for me and he made it easy to fall in love with & trust my Heavenly Father.  

  6. I agree with the article, but I wish you had added affirmation of intelligence, or creativity. I don’t want my daughters self-worth to be measured so heavily on appearance.

  7. i lost my dad right before my 18th birthday. he did all of those things when i was really little when i turned about 11-12 he stopped and i mean we stopped talking to each other all together untill my daughter was born and then 6 months later he was killed. dads really are the most important men in a young girls life. the people she dates are based on how you treat your daughter. so if she is dating a low life that treats her bad then you should start treating her better. shes only with him because he tells her things she wants to hear that she didnt hear from her father. 

  8. Really good stuff.  Thanks for sharing this.  My wife and I share this same message with husbands nearly every day in our ministry. www.Genesis2-24.net  I will be sending a manuscript for a book called “21 Days to happily ever after” to the publisher today.  It should hit the book stores some time in early May.  We are trying to encouage fathers and husbands in the same way.  Thanks for supporting these principles in such a real way.

  9. Awesome message!!!  I wish I had a dad like that growing up. I definitely would have chosen my boyfrienda more wisely AND I would have no problem believing my wonderful husband when tells me how beautiful I am to him!

  10. WWII survivors came home and had to try to forget the horrors of war.  Many did the best they could to be good Dads to the baby boomers.  There were lots of gaps as life was stressedd for the entire family.  We baby boomers have had a tough time in so many ways.  We then had children of our own, and I admit that being a parent was tough.  Keep up the good work at spreading helpful information to the Dads of today!

  11. Wow! I wish my Dad had had this information back when I was growing up.And we had 6 girls in our family, maybe he did, and was just worn out by the time number 4 came around. lol! He was a good provider and that was how he showed his love, but I may have made better decisions in love and life then I did back then if he had had this info.  I so wanted him to hug me and tell me he was proud of me , and that I was beautiful. I hope dad’s everywhere read this, and listen to these words of wisdom.

  12. From my perspective as being the man (earlier as a boy) who met the women whose Dads did and did not affirm them and love them in the ways you describe/suggest, I can attest to how correct you are!  I hope all Dads (and Moms) are loving in every way with their daughters (and sons).

  13. i may not be my stepdaughters father but im there for her though always and i totally agree too and tell her al these things too

  14. Two years ago, I would have been in 100% agreement with this post and all the positive commenters who precede me. Now? I don’t disagree, but would like to add a caution from my own experience: Beware the idea that what you do as a father guarantees the choices your daughter will make as she advances into adulthood.

    I’m the father of three daughters, ages 22, 20, and 16. I can say that I’ve done my best to be the kind of affirming dad this post describes. I would have gauged my bond with my second daughter as the strongest of the three. Yet it is she who is currently walking the darkest, most rebellious path, much to the bafflement of my wife and me.

    So, do your actions and attitudes contribute in a big way? Yes, I believe they do. But just as God sometimes intervenes to bring good into the life of a daughter who suffered very poor parenting (my wife being a case in point), he may also allow deep troubles into the life of your daughter despite your best efforts to be the dad described in the post above.

    By all means, strive to be that man. Add to the author’s formula copious amounts of prayer, because there are currents out there that may sever even the strongest father-daughter bond. Or your daughter may, through a combination of circumstances and personality, decline to let that bond be formed in the way you would like (my youngest, from the earliest age, has held me—and most other people—at arm’s length).

    Remember that a formula is just that—a set of good ideas that may generally lead to positive results. But resist the temptation to feel that your efforts and sacrifices entitle you to a good outcome. God may have other plans. He is the one who saves, not us. And he may take your daughter through some dark valleys on the way to redeeming her and glorifying himself.

  15. Good post!  I’ll admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I saw the “faith promise” title of your blog, but was pleasantly surprised when it was truly insightful and not full of religious malarkey.  I think that people need to accept more responsibility for their actions, and acceptance of events that unfold in their lives.  You don’t need to accept Jesus Christ as your savior to be a good person.  On the flip side, I don’t think it hurts any either… until one looks at their faith as a scapegoat for how their own life unfolds.

  16. Not just for daughters. If our daughters are going to have men who meet the standard, we have to raise up sons the same way.

    And, I mean no offense here but it is particularly the men who need to step up. It’s great that women are always striving to do it better but the component that men bring to the game simply cannot be emulated. Fathers need to stand up and be the example or the example is not set.

  17. You can’t live the life God intends for you to live without Christ.  I am  a better mother and my husband would say he is a better father because we are saved by Him.

  18. You can’t live the life God intends for you to live without Christ.  I am  a better mother and my husband would say he is a better father because we are saved by Him.

  19. Very true.  There are no formulas for a perfect outcome.  We must obey God and live according to his standard in raising our children, but in the end it is His plan working in the lives of our children.  There is no magic wand and sometimes God has to show us parents that it isn’t what we did that brings good or difficulty into our children’s lives, but it is in His hands.  It’s not about us, it’s about God.

  20. Some men are uncomfortable around their daughters and do not want to get out of their comfort zone. Sadly, the exact same men, if their daughter were to die suddenly or murdered, these men would be devastated and wished that had done more with their daughter.My father had to start working at a young age when his father (my grandfather died).  My father did not really have a childhood and had difficulty relating to me.  How I wished he had been there for me, but emotionally he had to put away the boy inside him and become an instant breadwinner (a man). Then he met my mom and they had children.As a grandfather, my dad had more time and started to tap into the little boy he had locked up all those years ago. Now that he is retired, he is exploring the things he could not as a boy-man. He takes art and other classes at the community center. The things I did when I was a boy, but did not know where the talents came from, my father has rediscovered in his retired years.Did I mention he was born 2 months premature? It was a miracle he even lived or went on to have a career in the US military and have a family.Therefore, before we judge, let us all remember that we do not know that person’s circumstances and do not imply actions based on your own “limited view”.Despite my father’s “inabilities”, he had many great qualities. He is hardworking, caring, and honest.  He expects everyone around him to work hard and be honest.Although I could not have my father in the way “I wanted”, he nonetheless, set a good example in other ways.  Moreover, I honor my father and mother for that, despite their imperfections.
    I have taken what they have taught me and through free workshops and life experience passed on the thing my parents taught me and the things did not know how to pass on.
    My oldest was nominated for Youth of the Year competition and the nominators took care of her gown and outfit for the formal awards banquet. We picked the oldest up at a choir function with her friend. We were discussing in the van what we needed to buy to complete her sisters’ outfits for the banquet. The friend said, I wish my dad understood fashion like your dad! (BTW, I am NOT gay, I am straight.)It takes effort to learn the things that matter to your children. For me it is triple difficult because I am a single dad with custody.  However, I started long before I was a dad.Being a single Dad has lead to having to choose a career path that does not require as many hours at work. But I had made a choice long ago that my family and children are more important that my career.  Sometimes, I have to choose work over a field trips, etc, to provide for my family. Though I cannot be there for every event in their life, they know I care and love them.

  21.  What kind of person would name their daughter after the female reproductive organ? Your comments are about as ignorant as your name. I hope that guy punches you in the face lezbo. 

  22. I didn’t really understand what the  “His reaction was sarcastic as he gave his daughter a side-ways glance
    “…If you didn’t hear him or really know what was going on how do you truly know he was doing her a disservice??? Or was this just an incident that got the ball rolling in your brain cells about how important it is for a father to not only be present but also a positive influence??? Not really sure about the title…

  23. The hardest was growing up NOT having a father to be there for me or tell me those things. It REALLY does affect your life

  24. Fathers, be good to your daughters
    Daughters will love like you do
    Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
    So mothers, be good to your daughters too

    – “Daughters,” by John Mayer

    Not meant to reduce this important post to song lyrics by a pop star, but I believe nicely and simply put.

  25. There are a lot of ways to affirm your daughter.  Read what she reads.  Listen to what she listens to.  Watch what she watches.  Play the games she plays.  Or is your manhood threatened by showing interest in what she’s interested in?  Check out this classic Sprite commercial:  

    I know you’ve heard that it’s quality time that counts.  That’s plain BS!  Daughters need your “TIME” and your love, but what better way to show that love than giving them your time.  

    My daughter’s 15.  She’s confident, happy, lives her faith every day, and has more character than me and I’m 57!  Why is she such a great young lady?  Because everything and I do mean EVERYTHING that I did with here wasn’t about me, but completely about building her character.  

    Love you Lexie!!!

  26. I agree; I am one of three daughters, and my dad did all of the things advised in this post as perfectly as I can imagine a person doing them. My dad’s discipling us–especially when we were in high school–has had inexpressible positive impact in all of our lives; but ultimately I’ve realized that if I can still have deep-seated issues after his love and mentorship, there is no parent who can solve or prevent their child’s issues. Children are sinful and a parent’s love can aid with brokenness inasmuch as it reflects Christ’s love; but ultimately, a parent’s love is only a reflection. Christ’s love is what fulfills, heals, and satisfies. It is beautiful what my dad has done for me and my sisters–but it is infinitely beautiful what Christ has done for his Bride!

  27. Thanks for this article!  I especially enjoyed your last point about “talk about the standard”.  With my parents they were always talking about the upstanding and noble man I would marry in the future.  Those stories and little talks in the end out-weighed the idiotic notions that the world tries to force on young girls about what “true love” really is!  It was also easier to believe them because my father is the greatest man alive (hee hee, I know I’m biased!).  I had my dark moments and trials, but through it all I just kept remembering those things that my parents said over and over to me and I was able to climb out of those dark pits and claim the amazing life and husband (and now father) that was waiting for me. 

  28. Matt,
    I appreciate and agree with your thoughts.  There is, in fact, no formula for the perfect outcome.  This is a truth I share with parents at FPC often.  In fact, my younger sister and I live dramatically different lifestyles and yet were raised by the same loving dad.  Following the 3 steps listed above are not a guarantee nor an entitled right… however, they are steps in the right direction that purposefully set the standard you desire.  

    Thanks for weighing in.  Your thoughts make the perspective complete and help many.  gina

  29. No, Brian, you don’t need to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior to be a good person.  But you DO need to accept Him as Savior to insure your eternal life is spent in the Realms of Glory.  I tell many parents that even if they don’t believe the “malarkey”, to look at their precious children and consider the possibility of eternity in Heaven or eternity in Hell.  Which example do they want to set for their children (or grandchildren)? Those children will make their own choices, as God gave us all a free will.  But what we as parents, grandparents and caretakers do to influence their decisions will be either to our credit or detriment in the end.

  30. My Dad…My Daddy adopted my sister and I when I was 5 years old.  For years I have said to my Dad.  Any male can be a father.  It takes someone special to be a Daddy!

  31. Thanks, Gina.

    The part in my comment about feeling entitled to a positive outcome reflects one of the big lessons God has been teaching me through these years. I have struggled with seeing it as rank injustice that any of my children would so disregard the lessons and affirmation I handed down to them with such love. As if I was owed a particular response in return for my actions and intentions.

    It’s only in retrospect, and by God’s grace, that I’m seeing how my weaknesses (and boy, do I have ’em) may have concealed or distorted the message I thought I was getting across. So, in the end, even our best-faith efforts may not be as effective as we’d expected, or may not be received as such. Being fallen people in a fallen world, our humanity gets in the way of even our best intentions. Praise God that’s no limitation for him!

  32. When Jesus was called “good” teacher, he responded by saying “why do you call me good?, none is good but God.  You are only a forgiven person, not a good person.

  33. Thank you for the awesome message.  Its amazing how much like my father my husband is and as much as that drives me crazy at times I wouldn’t trade him for the world.  Especially since my dad is gone now.  Please fathers, love your little girls, they’ll be forever grateful.

  34. I think I’ll take my chances.  One would have to believe in Heaven or Hell for that to hold any weight.  I don’t believe in a God, or Greek mythology, Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny… it’s all one and the same from what I can tell.

    You do speak one truth, after filtering out the malarkey.  What we as parents, grandparents, and caretakers do to influence our youth is pretty much all that will remain of us once we pass. 

    I believe at their core, most religions mean well, and are an effort to teach basic ways of treating one another well, and cooperate in society productively rather than destructively.  

    But I cannot bring myself to set my children up to believe in anything other than themselves, and in their own abilities, and to have faith in their fellow man.  In the end, I am a humanist… I feel that all people want to do good to one another, and when they do not it is typically driven by an outside force, whether that be poverty, or a troubled home-life as a child.  I suppose you would call that free will though.

    Again, there are good teachings from the Bible… but I truly think that our children would be better off if we taught them these lessons without clouding it with promise of eternal life, or damnation, or imaginary beings that watch over us.  In the end, we’re all subject to the consequences of our own actions, until we’re worm food, and then that burden or blessing is bestowed upon those we’ve left behind.

  35. I would also like to pose the question… if people do not accept Jesus as their Savior, then they go to hell?  So if we do not teach this to our children then they are going to hell?  What about the millions of people and children around the world who have never even HEARD of Jesus?  

    This is probably the best example of how religion is a means of societal control.  The church would like you to pass on their teachings, because it is a corrupt system that feeds off of your money.. and they want you to spread the word so that they can get more money.  If you do not believe me, and think that they only want money so that they can pay the rent and utilities for the church building… then ask your pastor how much the church pays them, and if they get a free home at the cost of the church, and how far above the median income for their location are their earnings?  If you think they’re in it because they “were called”, then I think you should ask them who called, God or Money?  If they make more than any of the other staff at the Church, or have better benefits, etc… then it was not a calling from God.  Their efforts are no more charitable than any C.E.O.  Organized religion is as corrupted, if not more than Wall Street ever was.

  36. Well said!  Especially that last line.  I am 53 and the father of three daughters.  (Also one son.)  Not until my daughters became adults did I realize what a crucial role I played in their upbringing.  From the father’s perspective, I heartily affirm what you are saying.  Further, I can say that if a father will truly love his daughter she will recognize the players coming at her from a hundred miles away.  Two of my daughters are now married to most excellent men.  This is because I demonstrated true love to them so the phonies didn’t have a chance.  I am not saying this to brag about my parenting skills.  I did not even realize I was doing the right thing until they were grown.  I am just glad I did what I did. 

    Fathers, love your daughters!

  37. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing this…had me all teary eyes over here because I always felt like I didn’t fit in with the other girls at school and even at church…but whenever I was around my mom and especially my dad…they always reminded me of how beautiful I am! I always felt special because of my dad, and I always wanted to do my very best whether in school or in church, to see him smile or give me a great big hug or to hear him tell me that he’s so proud of me…that made me happiest! 🙂

  38. Brian,

    In answer to your question about if people who do not believing in Jesus going to hell… I’m a Christian. I have gone to church my entire life.  I believe in a just, loving, and merciful God who wants all his children to return to him in Heaven. As such, I believe he provides his children with every opportunity in this life or after we pass on to learn of his Gospel, repent of their sins, and come unto Christ. I believe that God judges his children by their works in this life, not just by simply someone “claiming” they accept Christ as their Savior. I believe that God judges his children individually, taking into account all the unique circumstances in their lives. Therefore, those who know and understand his Gospel will be judged quite differently from someone who never had the opportunity to learn about it.  I believe that Christ’s atonement for our sins takes into account young children who have passed away, that their souls are already saved, as they were too young to be held accountable for their actions when they died. I believe only the worst of the worst people will go to hell, only those who have committed the worst sins and refuse to repent of them, only those who openly acknowledge and then refuse to accept Christ when they stand at their judgement will be in hell.

    As for the corruption of organized religion, and Christianity in particular… Yes, it exists, it’s common. Sadly the money changers that Christ threw out of the Temple in his time still exist today. You are right, they are the ultimate form of corruption. It truly saddens me that such people exist. I wish they didn’t. Please do not judge all Christians based on these people. Please do not judge all Christian churches based on these people. Please remember while no one is perfect, many of us are striving to be the best we can be, to live a Christ like life. Please remember that it isn’t necessarily a “church” that is true, it is Christ’s Gospel (aka his Church) that is true. Search for his Gospel, search for the church and it’s members you believe do their best to represent and live Christ’s Gospel in their lives, despite their imperfections. Look for the people who each day recommit to do better, to try and overcome their faults. Ask God to guide you in your search. Have faith that he loves you and wants you to learn of him and return to him in Heaven. If you ask God to help you know HIS truths, he will show them to you as you are ready to learn them.

    The truth is, none of us are perfect, it is impossible for us to be perfect in this life. We are made perfect through Christ. Through his atoning sacrifice. We do our best, we repent when we fail, we ask for forgiveness, and Christ picks us back up, gives us the strength to go on, and makes us whole through him. He makes us whole through him, so that step by step we learn to be better people, day by day we learn to become a little more like him, so that through our faith in him and our works throughout this life we can stand before Christ and God on our day in judgement and hear Christ say that we are perfect through him and worthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

  39. Why does each of those three points end with the idea of the “man she’ll one day marry”? How about affirming your daughter and teaching her to believe she is a beautiful, capable, worthy person in her OWN right, just because she is? Why must it all be about marrying her off? Teach her to value herself for HERSELF, so that when the going gets rough, she will be strong enough to handle the world and all its hurdles because she has a sense of self-worth that comes from within. If you do those things, she will naturally make good choices when it comes to relationships. But doing all these things with the ulterior motive of all this “future husband” nonsense will send her the subtle message that her only worth is in the eyes of other men- be it fathers or husbands, and her only worth is as either a daughter or a wife to someone. Have you ever considered your daughter might choose *NOT* to marry one day? (Oh, the horror.) Stop viewing your daughters as future wives. View them as individuals. You will find much more to honor, and you will do your daughter a favor by showing her she has worth that does not stem from anyone but herself. Do this, and she will choose good people in her life, husband included.

  40. The sad part is that men who probably are reading this article are already striving to be the best “Dad” they can be. And the ones who really need to hear this won’t read something like this. I know this first hand from a ex-husband who wouldn’t try to improve himself, even though it meant so much to his daughter.

  41. I was standing directly behind that guy and his daughter and I heard what he whispered to her:

    “Sweetie, what did I tell you about sitting next to the daughter of a crazy lady? Please keep your distance from that McClain girl in the future. As Gammy used to say, The apple rarely falls far from the tree.”

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