Your role is profound in the life of your daughter. As a man, you have a unique ability to draw out her beauty—deeper beauty—than possibly anyone else in her life. Tell her that she is beautiful, inside and out. Encourage her and tell her when you see her kindness toward a friend of her tenderness toward an animal. Speak to her strengths and love her through her weaknesses. As you do these things, you touch on the femininity that is growing inside her.
You can also be affectionate with her, even when she gets older and starts to pull away. She will be embarrassed by this, but that is all part of the adolescent ruse. It’s embarrassing for your dad to do these things. But she still enjoys them—even when she act like she doesn’t. Put your arm around her at church. Offer her your arm when you are walking into an event. This kind of affection helps her feel cared for and valued.
Your daughter will look to you to determine what kind of man she wants to marry and what a marriage should look like. You set the bar, both in the way you treat her and her mother. It’s a high calling, but the way you engage with her will become how she expects other men to engage with her as well.
As she moves into puberty, it will be harder to find ways to connect with her. Please don’t stop trying. Teach her to dance. Take her rock-climbing. Take her shopping or out to dinner by yourselves. As she gets older, teach her to drive a car. Girls tell us they love to drive with their dads. Wash the car with her. You can also teach her to change a flat tire. There are many ways to connect with older girls; they just require a little more creativity.
Girls need and truly long for their fathers to have strength with them—strength mixed with compassion with a little dose of playfulness mixed in. This helps them feel safe, cared for, and ultimately helps them see God as a father who is both strong and caring on their behalf. And helps them foundationally believe they are worth it…to God, to you, and to the other men who will be a part of their lives in the future.