It's been fun to hear from many of you about how much it helped to read real responses from daughters on the 25 things they really need (as opposed to want or perhaps could even live without) from their dads.
As I've been pondering the insightful comments from these girls (who literally are between the ages of 9 and 89), I've decided to organize them in an even more succinct way. (See men, I've listened to what you've told me, which is to "get to the point already!" You said you want things presented in a concise way with bullet points. So, here goes.)
If you think about it, with this organized list where all 25 things are presented in two columns it should help every dad on the planet strategize with more clarity because each of these things is about doing something. Every one of them requires action.
I've only ever met men who say they are wired to fix things when the women in their lives share problems or needs with them. Sitting and "just listening" is typically counterintuitive. Even this week in The Abba Project, the dads were laughing about that very fact as they highlighted that if women don't want them to fix a problem then maybe they shouldn't share it with them!
But seriously, I know that we as daughters really do want you dads to know what we need so you can do something. Here's my best attempt to break it down clearly.
Ten of these requests involve talking and 15 of them require doing:
- Affirmation ("Approval," "Praise," "Hear him say out loud 'I love you'")
- Be proud of me ("To know I'm not a disappointment to him," "No judgment," "Less criticism," "Faith in me")
- Tell me I'm beautiful ("Compliment me, especially about my looks")
- Talk to me and open up about himself, his pain, his faults, his hopes ("Let me see that he is human, that he fails, that he makes mistakes, and then show me how to make it right," "Time alone where I get to know him and his childhood")
- Prayers (This means either talking to God about her or talking to God with her)
- Guidance (This one requires interaction and communicating so I'm including it here)
- Sense of humor
- Teach me about things (This could also go under the "Doing" category but since it requires verbal interacting to teach her things I decided to put it here)
- Tell me you love being my dad
2. Doing—Taking Action
- Time ("To show interest and involvement in my life," "To be available")
- Affection ("Hugs," "Physical touch")
- Unconditional love ("For who I am regardless of my failures")
- Pursue me ("Desire to get to know me," "Interactive conversation where he is asking me questions about myself," "To actively seek me out and find out what I am doing, what I am interested in, WHO I am")
- To work on his temper so I can feel safe ("Not to crush my spirit")
- Not to change me ("To let me be me," "be accepted for myself—not for what I did or failed to do")
- Honesty ("I need him to be honest with himself. When he's honest with himself, it frees him to be honest with me")
- Just listen
- Be an adventurer ... with me
- Instead of not being there, please be there ("Instead of handing me money, ask to come with me and take me shopping or out to lunch")
- Believe in me
- Never give up on our family
- Show me how a real man treats a woman
- Support my ideas and dreams (This one could have gone under either category but since this involves both talking and showing up for the things she's interested in as a way to support her ideas and dreams I decided to put it here)
So, Dad, here's the way you're going to become the hero you want to be and that your daughter needs you to be: Each day choose one thing from this list and do it.
This gives you enough things to cover an entire month. And with the extra five days you can repeat the ones that get the best response from your daughter.
Below, I'm linking a flow chart of these 25 things that you can print out and use to record your progress this next month. It should help you stay on track as you make these things happen.
Meet her needs today and you will get filled up in the process. I promise.
Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon, and has served in that role for the past 17 years. She is founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to dial in with more intention and consistency, and has recently released her first book entitled, Dad, Here's What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter's Heart. She invites you to visit drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs, where she provides practical tools so that every dad in America can become the action hero they want to be and their daughters need them to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.
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