I just finished facilitating a 3 day retreat with 25 father-daughter pairs at a horse ranch in California. The girls were ages 7-9 years and one was cuter than the next. I was struck with what a special relationship dads have with girls at this age. Girls still look up to their daddies as heroes, and dads feel free to be affectionate and nurturing.
But more interesting to me was how dads could play rough and tumble with their daughters with no moms there to squelch their fun. We played a crazy kickball game that involved the dads picking up their daughters by the ankles and dunking their heads into the bucket of water serving as second base. Later in the pool dads formed a gauntlet line that allowed them to funnel the girls down the line and then be thrown by 2 dads at once 5-10 feet into the air. The looks of fear/excitement/”I can’t believe I’m flying” plastered on every girls face mid-air told the story.
It’s good for dads to toughen their daughters up a bit. Moms and even the current culture still do too much rescuing and coddling and victimizing of girls. Dads teach girls to have a sense of humor, and to be able to absorb good-natured ribbing and dish it right back. They give girls permission to take risks and to have adventures.
So for all our faults as dads, we do serve many very important functions when it comes to raising confident girls. I was honored to see it first hand last weekend.