Dads, investing in your teenage daughter is an investment that will deliver positive returns for decades — perhaps even for eternity. One way you can invest in her is to affirm her as a valuable young woman — just for who she is.
Guy recently took up the challenge to invest in one of his teenage daughters on a Fathering Adventure to tropical North Queensland. Find out why, how and the rewards they are enjoying.
Last week I had the privilege to take one of my daughters on a Fathering Adventure to tropical North Queensland.
My 17 year old and I, together with 9 other dad and daughter pairs, spent 5 nights on magnificent Magnetic Island 8km from the pretty town of Townsville . We were led by Darren and Melissa Lewis, who run Fathering Adventures from their Townsville base. Their website outlines their main goals:
“Fathering Adventures is an adventure-based organisation, devoted to turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers, as well as providing opportunities for men to initiate boys into young manhood, young men into authentic manhood, and bless & release girls / young women into authentic womanhood.”
… and, I might add, to create an awesome time for those going and creating memories that will last a lifetime.
The Adventure Begins …
Sub-tropical Magnetic Island is a fantastic playground; and yes, we had lots of fun. Here is a little taste of what we did:
Jetski fun. Photo: Darren Lewis
Horse-riding through the surf
Scuba and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef
Walking the bush tracks to the mountain views and close encounters with Australian wildlife
Wild Koala. Photo: Guy Mullon
Plus great company and good food…
But those cool things were not an end in themselves. They were part of the investment, but not the main part. In the limited space I have for this post, I’ll share three reasons for going and three rewards I am experiencing from undertaking this type of adventure with my daughter.
Investment in Relationship!
If you have read almost anything I have written, you will see that most of it comes back in one form or another to relationship. As a dad to 9 children, I am always looking for ways to strengthen my relationship with them. I place utmost importance in Investment (#Investment is one of The 7 Pillars of Real Men) in those relationships. Most investments have the following qualities:
- Investment has a cost. Sacrifice is required. The five-night adventure 3.5 hours by plane from my home town was not cheap. But not being cheap does not mean it was not good value. The seasoned investor knows very well that cost and value are very different things. Was it cheap? No. Was it great value? Absolutely!
We must remember that we cannot expect to invest in our relationships without it costing us something. In fact, one of the significant aspects of the investment in the eyes of my daughter is that it had a high cost. She told me that the fact I was willing to spend my money and time on her alone meant a lot to her. It helped affirm her value to me in her eyes.
- There is an investment period, because investments take time to mature. There is a time gap between when the investment is made and the payoff. Naturally, I have invested in my relationship with my daughter so much more than just the five days we were away. She and I have spent many hours together talking through issues, spending time together, learning from each other, and the investment period will continue to go on now that we are back home. It was not just about the five days in the sun and sea.
- There is an expectation of a payoff. Sometimes payoffs happen quickly, but the bulk of the payoff from an investment in a relationship will be seen later. Yes, I am seeing fruit of my investment just a few days after our return, but I expect the bulk of that investment to be realised much later as my daughter applies what she felt and learned on our adventure together as she moves on and beyond her teenage years.
Words Matter to Our Girls
Saying the right things at the right time is not something I have a natural talent for. I am generally a man of few spoken words, and I tend to have an attitude that I should be economical with my speech, that I should speak in as few words as possible, and that I don’t need to keep saying the same thing over and over — once should be enough. At least, that’s what I so often wrongly believe.
I was challenged by this while I was away. I started to see in a new way how precious my words were to my daughters, and yet how little it really cost me to say them.
The payback is incredible from words spoken that reflect your heart towards your daughter. Words matter.
During the five days, we had three significant moments when we had one-on-one time planned in the program, when it was up to me to prepare the words I wanted my daughter to hear from me. Darren and Melissa had planned these times out, because they recognise that despite all the fun, these would be the times that would have the largest long-term impact on our daughters and our relationships with them.
1. Affirming Her With Words
Affirming words. Photo: Darren Lewis
The first, was a time reflecting on what our daughters meant to us. Darren gave us a bit of help and suggested we follow this template:
a. “I love you and this is why I love you…”
b. “I am proud of you because… [reflecting primarily on her character]
c. “I see you. I notice you, and this is what I see…”
The dads personalised this for their daughters.
It was a short statement — 2-3 minutes long — face to face. It was so much fun, and we both loved it.
2. Your Story Makes You Real
For the second occasion, we were having lunch together alone on a mountain with a great view of the deep blue sea. On this occasion, a question from her provided me with an opportunity to share more about my own story and my history.
It is important that our daughters can relate to us and see us as being a father who can understand them and their issues. This will only happen if they hear about your own experiences, (especially failures) that they can relate back to their own thoughts, fears and other emotions. Dads, you need to tell your story so that your daughters see you as a human being like them!
3. Words for the Future
The third occasion was set up with a formal meal and ceremony to bless our daughters. I spent some free time earlier in the day praying and thinking about what it was that my daughter most needed to hear from me to help her move confidently into the next stage of her life. I also rang my wife to get her thoughts.
I wrote out a script of sorts, and then memorised the key points from it (I still temporarily forgot some of it while standing in front of her and the others). These thoughts were something very personal and specific to each father-and-daughter pair; but to see the light in each girl’s eyes as her father blessed her — it was amazing and will be life-changing to many of those girls there.
It is amazing to think that 30 or so minutes’ preparation, and 5 minutes speaking well-thought-through words can impact a lifetime — but it most definitely can. What a great investment!
Dads Are Still Cool!
The third and last lesson is that dads can and should still be fun. So often as a dad, we are lots of fun to our 7,8,9, or 10 year old… but something happens when they reach 13! Dad doesn’t seem so much fun any more…
Well, I’m no different 10 years later (except a little grayer, slower, less flexible and perhaps a little heavier). I’m still a young man inside, and I still like to have fun and enjoy having fun with others… especially my children and young adults.
Rarely in the business of life do our daughters get to see our real selves, like the men we used to be when life had less pressure, the man I was when I was relaxed and unburdened, and the man that her mother married.
An adventure like we just had reminded both her and me who her dad is. This is so important for your relationship, it is important for me, and looking ahead it will be important for her when it becomes time to consider what qualities are important in a life-partner.
Your daughter is looking AT you to determine her ‘bucket list’ for the man who will win her over. Either she will look for qualities she likes in you, or for the opposite of qualities she doesn’t like. What sort of attractive qualities are you communicating to her? One of those should be that men should be serious about serious things, but that they should also be good safe enjoyable company that she will enjoy being with.
Dads are still cool. Prove it to your daughter!
Hopefully, the payoff will be obvious, but in case it isn’t, here are three payoffs my daughter and I will be enjoying from our father-daughter adventure:
- Our Relationship Is Stronger: Our relationship was pretty good before. But it is even better now. The words, experience and yes the emotion shared between us have strengthened our ties to each other, so that when the hard times roll around, we have even more that holds us together.
Each deposit you make into your relationship account with her will be invaluable when it comes time to make a large withdrawal during a time of turmoil.
- Increased Confidence as She Transitions into a Woman: The teenage years are obviously a difficult time for our daughters. So much changes and so quickly. We dads feel it too. There is so little time, and it can be so difficult to find the right time to say the things they need to hear, and that we need to hear back from them in response.
Once you have shared special moments together and said the things you know needed to be said, you can both move forward with a load off your shoulders and a confidence that she will make wise decisions, and come back to you when she needs help. She needs those conversations to be had so she knows you are a safe place to come back to.
- Our Daughters Will Be Our Grandchildren’s Mothers. I am always cognisant that I am not just raising a daughter, but also probably a mother to my grandchildren and a wife to some lucky man.
My actions, my words and the memories that I leave with her will affect whom she chooses to select to be her life-partner and how she raises their children and my grandchildren. Important to remember that, as tomorrow has a habit of becoming today very quickly.
Those are rewards worth striving for. A worthwhile investment indeed.
Are you investing enough in your most important relationships? I encourage you to think honestly about this question and formulate a plan how you can get moving, really making those relationships matter.
This is what my daughter had to say about it:
“I really enjoyed spending time with my Dad, just me and him, making our relationship stronger.
I really liked having the opportunity to try some things for the first time, which I otherwise might never have the chance to — like my favourite, jet skiing.
It was also cool to meet lots of nice girls and everyone was super friendly. I felt right at home.
I am really grateful to Dad for taking me. It means a lot to me that he wants to spend his money and time for me.
This Fathering Adventure was great, and I’m so glad I went!”
That’s all from me. Take care and remember that a great way to love and affirm your daughter’s value is by investing in her.
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Originally published at Real Men 24/7.
Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels.