My eldest daughter, Lakeisha, got married on the weekend. How awesome is the smile on Lakeisha in the pic? When my wife, Melanie, was pregnant with her 21 years ago, one of the songs on the radio was Butterfly Kisses, (Click here to watch the song) which is all about a father watching his daughter grow up. Its always been a favourite of mine and one Fathers Day at Nowra City Church, Lakeisha and my other daughter, Laura, sang the song to me. When I pulled into the house on Friday where Lakeisha was getting ready for the wedding, I took a minute and listened to the song. Yeah I cried but let’s move on.
One of the things it says…of all the things I did wrong…I must have done something right.
This made me think…and I will admit I am in a reflective mood after the amazing weekend we had at the wedding and its lead up, made me think….what did I do right? What wisdom could I share about raising daughters. So here are a few things.
1) Start out with the end in mind. What do you want your children to be like at 20? Then begin to parent so you get that result. For example….I know way too many teenagers who simply don’t talk to their parents or at best grunt. So I decided I wanted my girls to talk to me. So from the age of 2, I would say things like ‘Dads and Daughters talk’. I would take them out for a coffee, (Hot Chocolate), and I would just let them talk. I was showing them and training them that dads and daughters talk. I was never negative about driving them anywhere….Because dads and daughters talk….Now Lakeisha is 20 and she still rings to talk to me 5 times or more a week. Why? Because dads and daughters talk.
2) Teach your kids to explore the world. When Lakeisha was a toddler, Melanie used to work on a Saturday, so it was just the child and I. We would go up to Garden City Shopping Centre (we were living in Brisbane at the time) and I would let her just walk. I would be a couple of metres behind her….and she would just wander through the whole shopping centre. Every once in a while she would look over her shoulder and check I was still there….And that’s the point here…..Let your kids explore, but just be there. Oh and here is a bonus thought….the toy aisle at K-mart is perfectly free child entertainment as you try all the toys and then have a pool noodle fight in the shop.
3) Daughters want their father’s approval and affirmation. Give it to them and give it liberally. I loved when the girls went shopping and they would come home and put on all their new clothes and come and show me for my affirmation of their beauty and their purchases.
4) Tell them often they are beautiful. Now I know this one may get some negative comments along the line….a woman’s beauty is on the inside….and it is but every young lady wants to be told she is beautiful. I told my girls often how beautiful they are.
5) Be a fun dad. One time we were at dinner on holidays and Melanie was sick and in hospital and Lakeisha said…Dad can I get me nose pierced? Yes I said….Let’s do it now I said….and so we did. Don’t be a grumpy old man. Be fun. Oh by the way…..in hindsight….best tell the mother before you just turn up with the 15 year old and her new nose piercing. Still though…the point is be a fun dad or a yes dad.
6) Always respond to ‘Mum Dad watch this’! I was lost the other day and so I was driving slowly past a park (looking for a house number), there were three kids on swings in the park and the mother was at the picnic table on her phone. It made me sad. PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN PEOPLE and give your children the gift of being present.
7) Speak life over your children. Speak positive. So so important.
8) Pray with them and for them. Even more important.
9) Be incredibly generous with hugs.
10) Never embarrass your girls. I know dads who love embarrassing their kids, like blasting the horn after a school drop off, or Pastors who overshare about their kids from the platform. I always asked my family for permission to share a story or a photo before I did it. And never embarrass your daughter in front of her friends. EVER!
11) Give them too much pocket money and then teach them how to manage money. Lakeisha was 8 when she got her first visa debit card. I would put her pocket money into that account and then she would manage her expenditure from there. It wasn’t a lot of money…but for an 8 year old it was. Both my daughters have learnt about tithing, borrowings (from the dad bank), savings, scarcity of money and the expense of stuff. Oh and read Richest Man in Babylon.
12) Teach your kids to tithe and be generous.
13) Model kindness. Let your children catch you being kind.
14) Honour their femininity. Don’t make comments about bras and periods. Let them have their space.
15) Similar to 8….honour their boundaries. For example I would always knock on the girl’s bedroom door if its closed.
16) But keep hugging and appropriate touching. I was at a family conference years ago and the speaker was talking about daughters. He said that often fathers will be huggy and touchy up to puberty but when the girl begins to develop the father, because he wants to be appropriate, stops the hugs and touches…..But this is the time a girl needs appropriate male affection and touching. So he said to the dads….keeping hugging….your girl needs it. This was a huge moment for me and so I made sure in that transition period, there were lots of hugs and touching and words of affirmation.
17) Create traditions. Every Sunday night on the way to church in Nowra, we used to stop at the corner shop and the girls would buy lollies. But they always had friends with them, (note that), so the friends had the same budget….it was $3 each. They loved it. I could write much about the traditions we have as a family. They are important.
18) Be an incredible celebrator. We celebrated everything in our house. We were a party house. Sometimes it was just the party of four….but it was a party. Birthdays were always a big deal. But achievements and good reports were also celebrated. I remember one time we had been to the school presentation night and Lakeisha had got a good report and we got in the car and Lakeisha said ‘so how are we going to celebrate me?’. Love it. And we celebrated.
19) Give your daughters a Valentines Day Card. For pretty much every Valentines Day, I have given my daughters a Valentines Day card. A lot of the days I have also sent the girls flowers….often when they are at school.
20) Take lots of photos.
21) Understand the spiritual realm. Be the spiritual authority in the house.
22) Don’t make your girls feel embarrassed when they ask awkward questions about sex and penis’s and vaginas. Or even when they swear cause that don’t know that dickhead is a bad word (when they are young: that actually happened). Like why would they?
23) Love the church and teach them through modelling how to serve the house of God. I always told my girls that the Pilt Family are in church on Sunday. That’s just what we do. And not even once have either of my girls asked not to go to church. Why? Because the Pilt Family go to church on Sunday. When we used to do bedtime prayers on a Saturday night, we would always pray for the church and for the services the next day, and we would always thank God that the Pilt Family get to serve the house of God.
24) This next one is just for Pastors. Whenever I went away preaching and if I received a love offering I would always give the girls some of the offering. Why? So they didn’t despise me being away…..’hey dads away we are going to get some cash’.
25) Tell them you love them.
26) Be a gift giver. This just maybe is my bent….But I have always tried to give the girls great Birthday and Christmas gifts.
27) Don’t tell your kids you don’t have money to do what they want….say something else….Like….we aren’t going to do that today…..
28) Don’t give them information beyond their age. But at the same time, don’t talk down to them.
29) Give them incredible experiences.
30) Live a great life. Model what a great life looks like.
31) Be your daughters entire cheer squad. Encouragement, Encouragement, Encouragement all the way.
32) Know your daughter’s friends.
33) Make your house a destination house. Both houses we have lived in when we had teenagers, we have made the destination house. This means it’s the house our daughter’s friends want to go to and hang out in. Food, cokes, air con and space.
34) Your word is your bond. If dad says it….it happens. I promised Lakeisha when she was 7 that I would take her to Disneyland when she was 12. Guess what happened when she was 12?
35) Daughters spell LOVE as T-I-M-E. Give it to them.
I am seriously no expert. Just sharing a few things Melanie and I have done as we raised daughters. And let me say Melanie has been an amazing mum to Lakeisha and Laura.
Here are a few of my other blogs that you may also want to read.
- Top Ten Pieces of Advice I Would Give a New Dad.
- 17 Pieces of Wisdom I Would Give My Daughters On Being a Woman – Seeing It’s International Women’s Day.
- Top 29 Pieces of Spiritual Advice I Would Give My Daughters.
- Is It Really Disempowering For Me To Call My Daughters Princesses?
- Peter Pilt Says He Would Gut A Gorilla To Protect His Daughters.(Strap yourself in).
- Top Ten Pieces of Advice I Would Give a New Dad.