When I married my husband, I married a single dad of two young children. One of my earliest memories of our time together was observing a weekly routine that he had with seven-year-old Ashley. Every Sunday evening, they had a standing date for David to paint her fingernails. Hair still wet from the shower and wearing her nightgown and slippers, she’d stretch out on the floor of their family room like superman. Head down. Arms outstretched. Fingers spread and ready for the perfect shade of pink to be applied by a dad who “had no idea what he was doing”, but who intuitively knew he needed to lean into this little girl’s world. Often, she’d fall asleep while he meticulously pulled the small brush across the not-much-larger fingernails. The whole process only took fifteen minutes, but over time, the ritual became symbolic. It was a visual reminder that he loved her. That her world mattered. That the smallest detail of her little girl life was worthy of attention. Although she eventually outgrew the need (and desire) for her daddy to paint her fingernails, she’ll never outgrow the need to know that he loves her. That her world matters. And that even the smallest detail of her grown-up life is still worthy of attention.
Our girls are bookends. They mark the oldest and youngest of our five children over a span of seventeen years. Although his daddy’s heart is full for both his girls, life looks very different now than it did when he was in the business of painting fingernails. With two teenage boys and an almost twelve-year-old girl in the house, David and I tend to divide and conquer. He’s on point for the boys. I’m on point for the girl. When the topic of dads and daughters recently came up over dinner with friends, he jokingly chimed in,” I just let Julie take care of Caroline.” His comment wasn’t entirely true. He loves his little girl and cares deeply about her well-being. He’s what most would consider an “involved dad.” But David’s casual statement was somewhat of a confession. We all gravitate toward what we know. He knows more about basketball than ballet. It’s easier to connect with teenage boys than with a tweenage girl. It’s less risky to drive carpool and help with homework than to pursue a daughter’s heart.
I have a sneaking suspicion that my husband’s confession speaks for volumes of dads across the country. They love and want what’s best for their girls. But time is limited and moms are more qualified and what in the world does “leaning in” look like?
Which is why I’m grateful to share an exciting, important project with you. Please take a few minutes to watch:
Please consider playing a small part in helping this project come to life, then invite your friends to join you. You can support “A Voice that Carries” here:
For the dads who need to know (or be reminded of) their value.
For the dads who don’t know where to start.
And for the daughters who need more of their daddies.
Thanks, as always, for being a part of this community. It’s an honor to walk the journey with you.
We’re on your side.
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The producers of this documentary are actively looking for more stories of dads and their daughters. Would you consider sharing a bit of your journey? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.