It’s Valentine’s Day…a day where husbands (should) spoil their wives with chocolates and flowers — a sweet card full of gushy memories, a nice dinner out with your sweetheart — Ahhhhh…l’amour.
Recently a father wrote me asking about how to relate to his teenage daughter. How can he read her, know what she needs or understand what she is really asking for? And I thought this being the season for love maybe I could help you dads out a bit — woman to man.
I’ll let you in on some secrets about what women want…really want — even if they are young women under your roof calling you Daddy. You can thank me later.
Little girls, medium girls, big girls and women are all pretty much the same. I’ve got ten daughters and 41 years of being a female under my belt, so I have a little expertise on the subject of girlhood.
How to spell love
First of all, for many girls love is a four letter word spelled T-I-M-E. Giving the gift of your time speaks volumes about their worth in your eyes. Some simple ways to spend time together include making a meal, going out for ice cream, seeing a movie or some simple physical activity like running together. Teenagers especially like to do something and you’ll find that as your “doing” they’ll start talking. Take the time to do something together. Maybe even make it a weekly thing: on Thursdays Daddy takes me on a run or to the movies. Thursday is Daddy’s night. Make that a habit long enough, and you’ll see your little sweetheart begin to save those open ended questions she’s pondering for those evening runs.
Write a love letter
Secondly, write letters. Writing a note once a week is a simple way to reinforce in writing what you may have been saying all along that you feel hasn’t sunken in. Daddy loves you. You can trust Daddy. I am here for you. I may not know everything about being a girl but I wanna know everything about MY girl. I will always listen to you, sweetheart. Daddy loves you with all his heart. You can even add an open ended question at the end to see if that little darling will write you back!
Write these letters frequently and it may be months before you ever get a note in return. She may not even acknowledge that she received it. But trust me, she cried when she read it and fell asleep holding it. In fact, if you go look, I’ll bet it’s under her pillow.
You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’
Remember when she was tiny, and she would just drape across you so casually? She would slip her hand into yours as you walked into church? How she kissed you openly in the park? And then she went and grew up on ya. I hate it when that happens.
And now she’s got curves, and long hair, and she is beginning to look so womanly. You haven’t held hands in four years and tight hugs and kisses have been off the radar for longer than you’d care to admit. I know. I understand. Affection can be awkward at best once they begin to fill out and strained at worst because they are so afraid of public perception by their peers.
Well never you mind, Papa. No matter how long it has been, you just start reaching out again. Hold her hand at the movies. Hug her so tightly and tell her how precious and beautiful she is. Cup her face in your hands and swear you’ve never seen anything so lovely — pimples, braces and glasses included. Sure it may seem strange at first but so does any new habit. In time you will have rekindled the sweet affection between you and your teen, and she may say she hates it or thinks it’s weird, but trust me — she revels in it secretly. Go on and do it. Every little girl needs to be held and loved on.
Lastly, tuck her in. Today’s teens go to bed far too late and spend half the night on their phones. No later than 10:30 p.m., get that girl in her jammies and into bed. Pull the covers up to her chin and kiss her head. Whisper a soft prayer over her, and make sure you remind her that you love her infinitely, and her Heavenly Father is crazy about her too. If you want to really spoil her, have a copy of some big thick chapter book. A couple nights a week let her fall asleep to the sound of your voice reading Carry On Mr. Bowditch or Robin Hood.
And voila Daddy, you will have won the heart of your daughter. What I have described is simple, but I know it’s not easy. Just dive on in and trust this mama with a house full of femininity that these sweet gestures are worth every ounce of awkwardness in the eyes of your sweet little girl who is not so little anymore.
Submit a question for consideration in a future issue at GoodNewsFL.org/AskAColumnist. Or visit Lyette Reback’s inspirational parenting website at Believewithme.com where you can find encouragement, hope and real answers for your parenting challenges.