I read a book once that delved into the psychology of women, if one really can, that talked about the importance of family life and specifically a fathers influence on his daughter and her future choices in life. A father models a young girls perceptions of how a man treats a woman by watching her mother and father interact.
Furthermore, how the father treats his daughter also plays a huge impact on the type of spouse our daughters will choose in the future. It is said that women choose a man like their father for better or worse. I used to think this was poppycock as my father-in-law and I were very different but in the past 5 years, I have realized that at the character level, we are similar in many ways.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of escorting my daughter to our second Daddy-Daughter Dance. We were invited by some other fathers and daughters to go out as a group for dinner and then the dance but I declined the offer. I wanted to use this time as a truly intimate experience and a chance to bond with her one on one.
During our "date" I modeled to her what a man should do and furthermore how a man should treat her. She sees these things everyday with her mother but it had such a huge impact when it was happening to her. I opened doors for her, took her arm and escorted her and explained when dancing that the man should lead (She still struggled with that one, Miss Independent!)
I think the biggest change my daughter noticed however was that I did not treat her like a girl but a woman. At 10 years old, she is already starting to develop and shape into a young woman and I want to be the main influence in that process. I want her to someday pick a boyfriend and husband that treats her like I do. I want her to compare other men to the example I set. This of course runs a dangerous line, if we are not setting the proper example.
We all know that a young girl neglected by her father will often run and find affirmation and worth in the arms of another man/men and this usually involves sexual activity or other destructive methods.
The bottom line is this: We have to model what right looks like. Without this, all the other parenting techniques are void as children will see your actions as hypocritical to your words. Esse Quam Videri.