Father-daughter relationships are important. Even if parents are separated or divorced, the role that fathers play in their daughters’ lives determines the types of adult relationships that those daughters will have with their male partners or husbands and their feelings of self-worth in relationships. When fathers are absent, it is important for there to be some adult male figure in a young girl’s life to fill that role as much as possible. And quality time with a daughter is one of the critical things a father or father-figure can give to promote self-esteem, healthy give and take, and just plain enjoyment of one another’s company. And if those relationships begin early, lines of communication are opened that have a better chance of continuing into those difficult teenage years.
Summer may be more than half gone, but there is still plenty of time for fathers to make it special for their daughters. Here are twenty things that fathers and daughters can do together during the remaining summer days.
1. Take day trips. Get out a map of your region and find places of fun and interest. Deciding on individual ones should be a joint decision. Why? Because part of that critical relationship means that dads listen to their daughters, honor and validate their interests, and cater to those, within reason. Cook some meals together. What are some of your daughter’s favorite foods?
2. Go grocery shopping together to gather the ingredients and cook those meals for the rest of the family. Have a dad-daughter night out – dinner at a nice restaurant and a movie. Again, honor your daughter’s preferences. Build something together. Whether it’s a bird house or new shelving for her room, make the plans, buy the materials, and complete the project together. Plan a party or outing for her and her friends – then act as a co-host. Serve the food; help with the activities, games, etc.
3. Go to a concert of the daughter’s choosing, no matter how much you may not like the music Let your daughter teach you a new dance. Then you teach her one from your time period.
4. Play music from both of your time periods.
5. There’s still time to plant a garden – there are some plants and veggies that reach maturity in the fall. Make this an ongoing activity of weeding, watering, etc.
6. Take your daughter to work with you for a day. Let her see what you do and explain your job to her, so she understands what you do every day. Volunteer together at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen – encourage your daughter to do this on a regular basis with you.
7. Clean out your closets and take the results to a charity.
8. Identify your daughter’s favorite car. Take her to a dealership and test drive one. Wash your car together and end the activity with a water fight.
9. Go on a horseback ride. Even if both of you are novices, trying something new together is a great experience. Try an extreme but not so extreme sport – zip lining comes to mind. Or rent a couple of jet skis at a nearby lake. (If your daughter is too young, put her on yours.)
10. Pack a picnic lunch and bike to a park; while you are there, feed the ducks.
11. Go fishing. Choose a nearby spot, rent a boat if you need to, and spend a morning or afternoon just talking while you put those lines in the water.
12. Go shopping for school supplies together. Usually, this is a mom’s job, but make it yours this year. Splurge a bit and get her something special.
13. Go to a baseball game, just the two of you. Or, if you are a golfer, take her to play and teach her a bit. Perhaps tennis is her choice – you could take lessons together. Plan a scavenger for your daughter and her friends. While they scavenge, you prepare great popular food for the group.
You may not be able to do all of these things in what is left of the summer. But here is the important thing: You regularly plan something with your daughter on a scheduled basis. Make the plans in advance and let her take the lead in making suggestions.
One of the things that girls need to know is that their opinions are valued, that they have worth, and that their ideas are honored and valued by their fathers or surrogates. When they grow up believing this about themselves, they will have the sense of self-worth that allows them to be assertive; they will have self-worth and confidence; and they will know what a healthy relationship with a male should “look and feel” like. And when those daughters are ready to choose life partners, they will look for those that have the same traits as their dads and treat them as their father’s did.
You may also discover that you, too, really enjoy this time with your daughter. And the pattern will be set, so that you can continue to have those times through all seasons.
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