If you’re willing to develop a warm and positive relationship with your kids, take these pieces of advice very seriously.
Usually when people find out that I’m a proud dad of four daughters and a son, they go ’Geez, FOUR daughters? I feel sorry for you, man, imagine what it will be like when they become teenagers!’ When I hear something like that, I feel sorry for those people, because they don’t realize what a great happiness it is to be the father of four daughters.
’I love you more than yesterday’ — that is what we tell each other every day, and I know that raising four daughters is not a burden but a great gift of boundless joy. My oldest daughter is 11 now, and during the years I realized many things. These are my 15 pieces of advice for those who want to build positive and loving relationships with their children.
Justin Ricklefs, a father of 5, shares his parenting experience in these 15 seriously insightful thoughts. It’s a very useful list for both dads of daughters and dads-to-be.
1. She really needs your love.
Learn how to express your love, and show it to your daughter. She needs your love more than she needs your money or even presents. They won’t be able to compensate for the lack of communication with her. No one in the whole world can replace her daddy when it comes to security and confidence. As she grows up, she will let you down, make her own mistakes and at times be arrogant and rude. One day she may even decide to leave home, but you should never give her even a tiny reason to doubt your love for her. The one thing she should be 100% sure of is that you love her no matter what. Don’t miss any chance to look her deep in the eyes and say ‘I love you’.
2. It depends on you what kind of life partner she will choose.
The relationship you develop with your daughter will have a huge impact on her decision to marry her ‘prince’ someday. If you were a good dad, she will subconsciously try to find someone like you. If not, it’s going to be very difficult for her to find a good guy and build a loving, committed relationship with him. Daddy’s girls often say that when they grow up, they will marry their daddy or someone like daddy. It’s a good thing to hear because it means you behave properly and are an incredible dad to her.
3. Listen to her music.
When a girl becomes a teenager, she may enjoy listening to a certain music genre, which you may like or dislike. You might not share the same music preferences but try to understand why she keeps listening to this song. Try listening to some of her CDs, take her to her favorite boy band concert, so that you have something in common or something to talk about. When she is in your car, let her choose the music for the ride. At the end of the day, you should always remember that the time you spend together is priceless and soon she will be driving her own car — or much worse, her boyfriend’s car.
4. She is watching how you treat her mother.
This is probably the most important piece of advice on the list. Follow it, and you will definitely succeed in being a good dad. It’s quite simple: always show your kids that you love their mother and that you value your marriage. While putting in all your efforts to be a good dad, don’t forget about your personal life. Take your wife out for dates, watch a movie or go to the theater, plan a weekend trip without children. You should show your kids that your wife is your No. 1 priority, not them. This is very useful not only to strengthen your marriage, but also for your kids to develop a positive attitude toward the idea of marriage itself.
5. Try to stay close to your daughter, especially when she becomes a teenager.
The teen years will be a challenging and difficult period for all of you. Your daughter may become a little less cute than she used to be; she may experience puberty problems and behave differently. Don’t push her away at these times, and try not to lose your emotional bond with her. Be there for her when she needs your advice, stay tuned for all of her news, interests and boyfriends. Act like nothing happened if you notice that she used your razor. Treat her as if she didn’t change at all. She must feel loved and respected no matter how old she is, 5 or 15.
6. Play her favorite sports and cultivate a healthy lifestyle.
In order for your little girl to grow into a healthy, beautiful woman, you should introduce her to sports as early as possible. Make morning exercises your everyday routine, take her out for a run, teach her how to do push-ups and spend more time outside playing. ‘Girl’ should not equal ‘weak.’ Your daughter should get some athletic experience to become successful, strong and confident. To be a girl doesn’t mean to wear cute fairytale-like dresses all the time; it’s also about having a healthy body and mind.
7. Celebrate family events more often.
Childhood is one of the most memorable and important periods of our life. Your daughter should remember hers as vividly as she can. This is your job. For example, you can propose a family trip to celebrate her next birthday. She may pick the destinations she wants to visit and together you will discuss the best options. Let her arrange this trip all by herself and remind her to take her diary with her to take notes. Also make sure to bring the camera so that you can have a great album full of precious memories.
Every weekend, find some time for a family movie night. Organize a big breakfast event or start a hot chocolate tradition on Sundays. Ask if she wants to visit local tourist spots if you didn’t have a chance to do so earlier. Go hiking, maybe. Come up with new ideas of how to spend more time together, and take lots of photos. Fill up your daughter’s emotional memory with the moments she was with her dad.
8. Teach her that giving is way more important than receiving.
Something really amazing happens when children realize that the universe doesn’t spin around them. She shouldn’t always count on someone’s help, and sometimes she should leave the last piece of cake for someone else. Try to explain how her life will become much better if she helps other people out. Tell her that sometimes it’s better to step aside than to always be the first. And probably the most important thing for her to learn about this world is that if she is wrong, she should admit it and do something to make things right.
9. Always show up to her biggest life events.
We all have jobs and strive to build a successful career; some of us don’t have enough time for our families. But try really hard to be there with your daughter when something big is happening in her life, whether it is a school concert or a sports competition. Always compliment her on her efforts, no matter what the results are. If your friends invited you to watch a football game the same night your daughter has a concert at school, choose your priorities wisely — you can put the football game on replay, but you won’t be able to ‘replay’ your girl’s childhood.
10. When you’re at home, turn off your cell phone.
The biggest mistake almost every modern dad makes is that he keeps working even at home. We make phone calls, arrange our correspondence, post something on Twitter or Facebook. The thing is that even being present, we’re still not available for our kids. So when you’re at home, turn off your phone. Spend some quality time with your princess; play with her, read to her, or simply cuddle with her — she was waiting for you to come home the whole day! Soon she will not need your company.
11. Learn how to do her hair.
Sure it’s often the mommy’s job to comb the girls’ hair and do braids and ponytails, but the father should be able to do them, too, just in case. What if you go on a holiday trip with your daughter, for example? Plus, psychologists believe that every father should be able to do his daughter’s hair and her nails, too! Such skills will show her that a man can be not only strong, but also gentle.
12. Go outside, just the two of you.
At least several times a year, take your daughter out for a ‘date’ without mom or other family members. You can go to a restaurant or the movies. Those ‘dates’ will teach her all about how a man should treat a woman. Open the car door for her, compliment her, make her laugh, let her pick the drinks. Pay the bill and tip the waiter. She will feel like a million dollars, and that is your main goal. It’s up to you to decide where and how to spend a couple of hours with your daughter. Whether you ride a bike in the park or go to a bookstore together, it should be very well planned and, most importantly, your girl should feel like she’s on a real date.
13. Explain to her that pretty isn’t everything.
Psychologists state that it is a father who should explain to his daughter that what really matters is her inner beauty, not the obvious kind of beauty; her great personality, confidence and self-esteem is what will make her go far in life. Raising a daughter in today’s Glamour magazine standards is no easy task. But it’s you who can explain that, to make a good impression, she doesn’t need to expose every piece of her skin.
14. Don’t miss her childhood!
It’s amazing how fast time flies by and you don’t even realize it. Your baby girl calls you daddy now, so enjoy your role and try hard not to miss a thing!
15. Don’t hesitate to say ‘I’m sorry’ to your daughter.
As young dads, we sure try our best to be the best dads we can be, but we’re only human, and sometimes we also let our kids down by not keeping our promises. When you know you were wrong, come up to her and say, ‘I’m so sorry about that, will you forgive me?’ Don’t worry, she won’t think less of you. If you’re not good at saying ‘I’m sorry,’ learn how to do it. Learn now, until it’s too late! Such words should come directly from your heart, and as a result, you will bond with your daughter and she will forgive you.