I've heard it said that men do their best when they're challenged—and not just challenged to do something possible, but something bigger and harder than they could ever imagine doing.
Case in point: I watched a documentary a while back where men voluntarily attended a week of grueling military boot camp, paying large sums of money to be pushed past their limits. Why did they do it? They said it was simply to prove that they could.
The only way these guys knew if they were capable of surviving the challenge was to go the distance no matter how hard it was along the way. Hearing this story brought home the truth that brave and bold go hand in hand.
If you are going to step into your daughter's life in a braver and bolder way than ever before, you will most likely be doing things you never thought possible, things that might even make you feel a bit uncomfortable or less than competent. But I know you'll do whatever it takes to reach her heart, even if it's out of your comfort zone.
To reach that goal, may I suggest a five-step path for boldly engaging your daughter's heart in order to ensure your rank among other courageous, risk-taking, valiant dads who are stepping up to put their love for their daughters into action?
For easier recall, let's use your hand as a template for these five things:
According to relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, a healthy relationship needs five deposits to every one withdrawal, so make sure to build her up five times more than you correct her.
Ask yourself: How often do I communicate my disapproval with a thumbs-down in contrast to the times I give her a thumbs-up to celebrate her successes?
2. Pointer finger
Point her in the right direction by the choices you make even behind closed doors.
Be aware that she will follow after you because she longs for your approval.
Ask yourself: By the way I live my life, in what direction am I pointing her?
3. Middle finger
- Your tallest finger should remind you to stand tall with personal integrity by modeling the very attributes you want your daughter to embody.
Ask yourself: Am I leading with anger, or am I treating her in a way that leads her to stand tall with confidence?
4. Ring finger
- This finger is typically reserved for the ring that tells the world she has a forever love.
Ask yourself: How have I shown love to my daughter today through my words, attitudes and actions? If you don't show your love, she won't know your love.
5. Little finger
- The most fragile of all the fingers, this one reminds us that a daughter's vulnerable heart is most beautiful when it is open, which happens naturally when treated with tender loving care.
Ask yourself: Have I responded to her with gentleness and kindness, respect and love today?
The truth is that a woman with an open heart will not only change the world, but will engage the world in like kind to the way her heart has been engaged. You, dad, have a key role in facilitating that process.
Let today be the day you push past your limits to boldly engage your daughter's heart—just to prove that you can!
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 nine-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to help them focus more intentionally on consistently pursuing their daughters' hearts. She released her first book titled, 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 he wants to be and his daughter needs him to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook and Twitter.