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Father’s Day Special: 5 Principles of Being a Girl Dad

"The moment you first lay eyes on your baby girl is the moment your life changes forever." My dad says this with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face when he is asked about being a dad to three daughters. While I am not a father myself, I am incredibly fortunate to be the daughter of an amazing dad. His wisdom, love, and unwavering support have shaped who I am today and originally inspired me to start writing Girl Dad: Stories, Lessons, and Advice From Girl Dads & Their Daughters. In honor of Father's Day, let's explore what it takes to be a great father to a daughter, drawing inspiration from the best dads out there.



Father playing with two daughters

 

1.      Brand Yourself as a Girl Dad

While writing Girl Dad, I interviewed fathers with varieties of backgrounds. But they all shared one common trait: they branded themselves as Girl Dads. They called themselves Girl Dads, said they were proud to be a Girl Dad, and wore the title like a badge of honor.


It makes sense that they have been so successful in their journey of fatherhood because activity follows identity. When it comes to setting goals and changing habits in your life, one of the best pieces of advice is to start referring to yourself as whatever it is that you’re aiming to be. If you want to start getting up earlier and making the most of your mornings, start referring to yourself as a morning person. If you decide you want to write a book as a side project, call yourself an author. If you have a passion for taking photos and want to make a career out of it, label yourself as a photographer.


When you brand yourself with a certain title, or as a type of person, you effectively become that brand. You will be surprised at how quickly you start making decisions that fit into the wheelhouse of the brand you are working to identify with.

 

2.      Intention Around Your Attention

In today's fast-paced world, it’s easy for work and other responsibilities to consume most of your time. However, being a great father means making the most of the moments you have with your daughter, no matter how busy life gets. Remember that the quality of time spent is far more important than the quantity.


When you’re with your daughter, make sure you're truly present. This means putting away distractions like your phone, laptop, or TV, and focusing entirely on her. Engage in meaningful conversations, listen actively to what she has to say, and show genuine interest in her thoughts and feelings. This demonstrates that you value her and her experiences and teaches her that she is worthy of your time and attention.


Activities like cooking dinner together, driving her to school, or even running errands can be opportunities to connect. Create a “no-phone zone” for both of you while engaging in these activities and instead use these moments to talk, laugh, and share experiences.


Being intentional also means being mindful of your daughter’s needs and interests. Pay attention to what makes her happy, what she’s passionate about, and where she might need support. By being engaged and responsive, you show her that you’re interested in her world and that you care deeply about her well-being.

 

3.      Include Her in Your World

One of the most powerful ways to strengthen your bond with your daughter is by including her in your world. This not only helps her feel valued and loved but also allows her to see different facets of who you are, fostering a deeper connection and mutual respect.


Invite your daughter to join you in activities you enjoy. Whether it's gardening, playing golf, fishing, or doing handywork around the house, sharing your hobbies can be a fun and engaging way to spend time together. This gives her a glimpse into what you love and might even spark a new interest for her.


In fact, two of my best friends have pursued careers that directly align with their fathers’ passions. One of them grew up going to the gym with her dad, even as young as four years old, and now she is a fitness instructor and soon-to-be franchise owner of her favorite gym. My other friend grew up going camping with her dad and says that those days were the inspiration for her to build her company that focuses on turning Sprinter vans into exquisite camping and travel vans with comfortable sleeping areas and kitchenettes.


Including her in your world also means giving her a peek into your professional life. Explain what you do, why you do it, and how it impacts others. Take her to your workplace for a visit or let her help with simple tasks if appropriate. This can help her understand why you sometimes need to dedicate time to your job and teaches her about responsibility and work ethic.


Inclusion is a two-way street. Show interest in her world as well. Ask about her hobbies, friends, school activities, and dreams. By reciprocating interest, you create a balanced relationship where both of you feel valued and understood.



father fishing with his daughter

 

4.      Recognize the Little Things Matter

When it comes to having a great relationship with your daughter, it really is about the little things. Even if you're busy, carve out small pockets of time to spend with your daughter. These moments could be as simple as reading a bedtime story, cooking breakfast together, or having a quick chat about her day. Consistent, quality time, even in brief moments, reinforces your presence in her life.


Little surprises can brighten her day and show that you're thinking of her. It could be her favorite ice cream after a tough day at school, a handwritten note in her lunchbox, or an unexpected outing to her favorite park. These gestures don't have to be grand; it's the thought and effort that count.


For example, one of the girls I interviewed for Girl Dad mentioned that when she was growing up, she and her dad had a routine of eating ice cream together every night. She said that he helped her move into her college dorm and when he left, she was feeling lonely and sad. That night, she decided to indulge in her favorite comfort dessert and when she opened the freezer, she found a note that said, “I wish I was here eating ice cream with you.” She was so surprised and said she felt extremely loved. Since then, she has moved three times, and the note has traveled with her to each new apartment and remains in her freezer today. This little gesture truly impacted her and made her feel close to her father, even when he is physically far away.

 

5.      Don’t Stop Being You

I am a huge believer that happier dads are better parents. With that said, I encourage you to continue to pursue your hobbies and interests and share these passions with your daughter. Show up for yourself so you can show up for your family.


Nurture your friendships and social connections if that brings you joy. Having an enriching social life outside of your family demonstrates the importance of relationships and support networks.


Additionally, by managing your professional responsibilities while also taking time to relax and enjoy leisure activities, you show your daughter the importance of balancing duty with self-care, which is a crucial balance for a fulfilling life.


In summary, dedicate time to what you love, and you’ll find that you have more time and energy to spend with your family.

 

 

Remember that life is a journey full of highs and lows. There is no perfect science to parenting, but if you stay true to these five principles, I promise you that your relationship with your daughter will benefit tremendously.


For more ideas on how to connect with your daughter, visit girldadnetwork.com where you can join live monthly calls with me and the incredible fathers in the network, enroll in self-paced courses, and access handwritten note templates, gift guides, and activity guides. Hope to see you there – and in the meantime, Happy Father’s Day!!

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