My 21-year-old daughter, Kelsey, and I had the privilege of speaking together at the Third Annual Seattle Father-Daughter Summit this past weekend. It was a powerful event that was attended by about 60 pairs of fathers and daughters with ages ranging from 11-25 years old. The Summit was an all day event sponsored by several fathering and family ministries. The program consisted of seven sessions working with fathers and daughters together, fathers alone, and daughters alone by age group. Each session was designed to build upon the previous ones and included letter writing, trust building exercises, and father-daughter dialogues. But at least one girl was changed more than she bargained for.
Fathers have an incredible influence (positive or negative) on nearly every aspect of their daughter’s lives. Fathers set a huge role model for their daughters regarding the qualities she looks for in men and the standards she maintains. He is the first man in her life and models how a man should treat a woman, how a man should act, and how a man shows healthy love and affection to a woman. He also sets the standard for how a daughter feels she deserves to be treated by men. He even determines how a girl feels about herself. If her father shows his daughter love, respect, and appreciation for who she is, she will believe that about herself as a woman, no matter what anyone else thinks. Girls deprived of this father love and affection make poor choices in an effort to fill that void.
The goal of the weekend was to help the fathers understand how important they are in the lives of their daughters, and how to foster a healthy connection with their daughters as they become young women. We also wanted to help the daughters recognize their need for a healthy relationship with their fathers and the consequences in their lives when that doesn’t happen. Lastly, we wanted to help facilitate reconciliation between fathers and daughters who were struggling or had past wounds.
As the teenage girls arrived their body language suggested that they did not want to be there and many of them were actually cold and distant toward their fathers. The dads of course appeared a bit anxious and nervous. As the day progressed and the speakers and workshops broke down those barriers we began to see fathers and daughters talking, sitting closer to one another, and even laughing and hugging each other.
The event culminated in a “father blessing” of the daughters. I knelt in front of my daughter on stage and prayerfully offered my blessing to her publically, stating that I loved her, I was proud of her, and asking God to bestow his blessings upon her (yes, it was difficult to keep from blubbering). Kelsey then tearfully accepted my blessing and responded with gratitude and thankfulness for me being her father (stupid eyes wouldn’t stop watering). To then watch the fathers kneel and bless each of their daughters was a powerful and emotional experience. One sullen young girl threw her arms around her father, buried her face in his chest and sobbed, “Oh Daddy, I love you so much!” Many fathers and daughters were in tearful embraces as we concluded the day’s activities.
Here was just a sampling of quotes from the day:
"The best thing about today was getting closer and more excited about me and my dad! I'm glad I came today because he made me feel wonderful and more loved."
"I got to see that my Dad isn't that bad. I'm glad I came because he let the communication be open."
"The most helpful insight I received was realizing that me and my dad can do anything if we take one step at a time."
The father-daughter bond is a special one that impacts a young woman for her entire life. We strived to grow and repair some of those bonds this weekend. The reactions of the young women confirmed to me the importance of a father in a girl’s life. Dads--your girl needs you, more than she can ever tell you. Take the time to nurture that relationship and you’ll both be blessed.
To find out more about bringing a father-daughter event to your area contact firstname.lastname@example.org.