A few months ago I read this book (That’s My Girl: How a Father Protects and Empowers a Daughter). There’s been a lot going on since I read it, so I can’t remember everything or most of what was said, but I do remember having one major takeaway and believing that I’ve found something amazing that will set me apart from other fathers. The author talked about how he would take his daughter clothes shopping when she was a teenager and everything she purchased was with him and with his input. I thought it was a brilliant idea! How many fathers of teenage daughters would hide behind the “There’s a football game on this Saturday” excuse and disengage from their daughters at a time when they need engagement the most? So I declared to TJ that when Eden and Ariella grew older, I would take them clothes shopping and I would give them my input on their clothing choices. Then came something I wasn’t expecting: hesitation.
“I wouldn’t be so quick to decide that if I were you.”
“What do you mean?”
“I trust when the time comes that you’ll make the right decision and you’ll have thought about it more, but wouldn’t you just be teaching them that the important thing is for them to have a man’s approval?”
I still haven’t thought what the right thing to do here is. I still see value in being involved with my daughters, especially when they’re teenagers. But I also don’t want them to always look to me for approval on everything. At some point, I must trust them and trust their judgement and let them go off and do their own thing. At some point, they must feel the freedom to go forward with their decision, especially without my approval. I believe someone told that’s called “adulthood” and I have full intentions of raising free thinking adults.
Then, just a few days ago, TJ shared this post with me (Seeing a Woman: A Conversation Between a Father and Son) and it really got me rethinking my shopping thing with my girls. I know at first it was meant to help create and foster a relationship that I, as their father, really cared for them and I will suffer the 6 hour mall marathons because I loved them and want to be involved. But I also do know that I wanted to control what they wore, because we all know how teenage boys are wired and how they respond to visual stimuli. But it is not fair for me to put that kind of responsibility on my girls. They are not responsible for other boys’ eyes and what they do with them. I want to raise my girls to be responsible, and I can only do that if I can help them to know what is their responsibility and what isn’t.
Thankfully I still have a lot of time to think this through carefully. Eden is probably a good 8 to 9 years away from this and Ariella another 10 to 11. Maybe by that point someone will write another book on this or I can observe one of you who have girls older than mine. How do you do it? How do you with teenage girls stay engaged? Or if you’ve already lived through it, how did you do it? How do we as father still remain engaged yet not become overbearing and controlling?