It gets me every time. That Subaru commercial with the little girl in the driver’s seat, her father anxiously offering last-minute safety reminders. I’m certain it melts the heart of every father to a daughter. (See the video below.) They grow up far too fast.
Greg Wright realized this and so crafted a renewed, purposeful approach to fatherhood, which he outlines in Daddy Dates: Four Daughters, One Clueless Dad, and His Quest to Win Their Hearts. Wright offers practical advice for us dads of girls on how to guide them into womanhood and to “help them develop their inner compass.”
Too many daughters have grown up without their father’s influence or approval. Wright asserts that it’s the father’s responsibility to pursue his daughter. Though she wants nothing more than to be pursued by her dad, your girl needs to be won over, not unlike her mother did. Wright suggests the best way to do this is by dating your daughter.
This isn’t the Disney dad. Certainly, dates need to be fun, and that fun takes different shapes. (It used to be Build a Bear in the mall; now it’s Aeropostale.) This can take place over a fancy dinner, when you’ve both dressed up for the occasion, or a simple walk through a park. What’s essential is getting to know your daughter. What does she like to do? These dates aren’t about what you like, but what she would like. More than fun, communication is the goal, which demands turning off the phone and concentrating on her.
Wright admits his is an experiment still in progress, but he offers much help in how to talk to a girl, one whose view of the world around her keeps changing. He stresses that girls, like their mothers, need to vent, to let out what’s bothering them. But too often we dads just want to fix their problem and move on. Instead, Wright would say, “Can I offer a suggestion, or do you just want to talk about it some more?” That’s gold!
Something likely all fathers will embrace but what just as many daughters would reject is Wright’s doggedness regarding dating in high school. No dating. None. He says, “We don’t have boyfriends. We don’t do ownership. We do friendship, and that’s it.” I’m torn on this one, but I’d lean toward Wright. (Personally, I feel like I lost two years in high school, because I was in a “serious” relationship with a girl I should never have dated as long as I did.)
An excellent rite of passage Wright instituted with his daughters is one I plan to adopt. On her thirteenth birthday, Wright takes his daughter out for a very special dinner, where they discuss the no-dating policy and where he places a ring on her left hand, like a promise ring of sorts. The ring signifies that he is
“giving her my heart (in a parental way), promising to be her guide in life, and will take care of her financially and emotionally until she’s an independent woman or married. … [The man who wants to marry her] will have to man up and ask for my permission for her hand in marriage. And that’s when my ring comes off—when he puts his on and makes the same promises.”
Whereas a chastity ring, along the True Love Waits vein, denotes a promise made by the girl, this ring serves as a reminder of his promise both to her and to him. There is infinitely more to raising a confident woman than merely preventing her from having sex before marriage—though there’s no question it stifles maturity.
In Daddy Dates, Wright gives great counsel on raising daughters, though with just a bit too much hokiness. Overall his attempts at humor, however, don’t distract from the wonderful content. I recommend this book to all fathers of girls.
Now, I have three months to pick out a ring.