Last night I had the pleasure of taking my daughter to a local Daddy/Daughter Dance. It’s something we’ve been doing since she was three years old (she’s eight now) and we look forward to spending this special night together every year. We get all dressed up – she wears a special dress and I wear a three-piece suit – and I give her the gift of my presence all evening long.
We had a great time talking in the car on the way there, sharing a meal together in the gymnasium, getting our picture taken, and dancing (of course). I’m always thrilled to get the opportunity to spend time with my daughter and hear of her hopes, dreams, troubles, and achievements. She’s a really amazing and beautiful girl with a personality that takes over a room and I couldn’t be prouder :-)
Last night, though, I witnessed one of the most troubling trends in recent years since we’ve been attending these events. Almost every dad in the room had their face buried in their smart phone all night long! Texting, snapping photos and videos, sending emails, and choosing to experience their daughters as passive bystanders instead of active players. In fact, I think you can see one of those dads behind me in the picture of us to the right.
Now, I’m no stranger to technology. And I definitely used my phone last night (as evidenced by the picture I took with it). But I wasn’t chained to it. I was there for my daughter, not myself. Sure, I had a great time as well but this night is about me giving her the attention she craves and deserves, not meeting my needs to the exclusion of meeting my daughter’s. It grieves my heart to see so many girls missing out on the attention of their fathers while these men give all their attention to the screen. And it pains me to think of the message these little girls were receiving as a result of their dads’ ignorance.
Every little girl’s heart is asking the question, “Am I beautiful? Am I worthy of love?” And who is the primary person they are looking to for the answer to that question? Their fathers. When dads take the passive bystander route with their daughters on a night like this, what is the message these little girls’ hearts receive? Am I beautiful, Daddy? Am I worthy of love? Maybe, kid…hold on, I just got a message from someone on Facebook let me get back to you on that.
Our kids deserve our attention. Plain and simple. If you can’t get your head out of your phone long enough to give your focus completely to your little girl at a Daddy/Daughter Dance one night out of the year, then what attention is she probably receiving from you on a daily basis? Any at all? How do you think that makes her feel? Do you care? Have you given any thought to how your actions affect her? If you don’t do something about this now what might she begin seeking as a replacement for your approval and attention as she gets older?
Dads, father is a title given to a function. It’s not a position that you hold or a business card you hand out. If you don’t function as your girl’s father, then her heart will seek that function from other sources. Don’t you want to be the most important man in your little girl’s life for all the right reasons instead of all the wrong ones?
My daughter took care of all the little girls whose dads sat on the sidelines last night by rounding them up and having a big girly dance circle in the middle of the floor. She’s a force of nature, I tell you, and it’s because her heart is at peace in the knowledge of her father’s love and her confidence in his answer to the question…Am I beautiful, Daddy? Yes, baby…you’re so lovely and beautiful. Am I worthy of love, Daddy? Yes baby, but only worthy of the standard of love that I show you – I’m setting the bar high, so that you know how much I value you and what value you should expect to receive from others.
Fathers be good to your daughters. We don’t get a second chance to set the standard.