“It is the biggest responsibility that I could ever have as a man to be a father for these two girls,” Jarred James states confidently. James is a father who prides himself on his ability to throw a great tea party just as well as he tosses a spiral pass. He specializes in both the soft and the strong, mastering his nail polishing technique along with breaking down football plays for his girls. Providing unconditional love each and every day, though, is his main goal.
The Importance of the Father/ Daughter Relationship
A girl’s relationship with her daddy cannot be overstated. In general, parental relationships shape us in immeasurable ways, positively or negatively, but a father can greatly impact his daughter for the long term. “Research shows that young women who have a strong, healthy relationship with their fathers are more confident in their careers and life path choices, more likely to choose a husband who has a healthy and loving relationship with her, and have generally better mental and emotional health than those who do not have this kind of relationship with their fathers. In short, daughters with healthier father relationships are better equipped for a healthy transition into adulthood,” Dr. Roger Butner, LMFT shares. And, it’s never too early to start that strong bond before father and daughter.
James considers his girls, Paetyn, 10, and Ryleigh, 6, to be the lights of his life, and he is determined to be theirs. He knows the significance of his role in their lives, and he lives out that calling daily. “I can set the tone for any man who will come into their lives in the future: friends, boyfriends, husbands. My job is setting a good example on how a man treats a woman by how I treat their mom. No matter what’s going on, I want them to know dad’s going to be there, the rock they can always count on.” Whether it’s a dance recital, a soccer game, a play, or another performance, James wants his girls to always be able to look up and see him in a crowd. Though he works demanding hours in real estate development, he makes his girls’ activities a priority, even if he doesn’t get there right on time. “Daddy’s never too far away. I want them to know that I always make time for them.”
Quality Time and Worthiness
Dr. Butner has observed over years of counseling that “the most common negative contributions of fathers upon their daughters are either those who simply seemed too busy with other things to give them proper time and nurturing or those who actively sent the wrong messages about where their daughters' worth comes from.” Fathers can avoid this negativity by spending quality time with their girls and reinforcing their inherent value. It’s a simple formula: time plus affirmation equals positive impact.
The James family has that quality time dynamic on lock. They know how to make their time count whether it’s family picnics in the living room, playing pretend, or a night out at the local bowling alley. In addition to Friday Family Nights, the James family also has daddy/daughter dates, which is good for both dad and for his wife to have some time of her own. Paetyn and Ryleigh love to go get pizza and froyo with their dad on their dates.
One of the sweetest traditions James has with his daughters is their bedtime ritual. He reads to them, prays with them, tucks them in, and then, they sing their song together. When the girls were born, James picked a song for each girl. His hope is that when the girls get married, the father/daughter dance will be to their special song. Paetyn’s is “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, and Ryleigh’s is “My Girl” by the Temptations. From nighttime lullabies to waltzes in wedding dresses, the James girls will always have their daddy’s voice singing over them.
Tough and Tender
Some men may feel participating in “girly” activities may jeopardize their masculinity. James scoffs at that idea, and believes that by enjoying his girls’ interests, they can enjoy being a part of his. Though in the beginning, he was more unsure. “When we first found out we were having a girl, I was a little nervous. I’m into sports and ‘guy stuff,’ and my immediate thought was I wouldn’t know what to do with girls,” James shares. “But my girls are the best of both worlds. I don’t need a son. We can snuggle on the sofa and then wrestle on the floor. One minute we are watching Beauty and the Beast and the next, we are outside playing kickball.” The James family has found the perfect combination that works for them. “It doesn’t make you less of a man if you have a tea party with your daughters. We bake cookies together, but we also still do things that I like to do. They’ll watch a whole football game with me. And if they want to watch a princess movie, or if they want to dance around the house to Taylor Swift, we mix it up.”
James is also a strong advocate for supporting his girls to be themselves. Paetyn loves to act and perform while Ryleigh is all about getting outside and playing with animals. “They may have a Barbie doll in one hand and a dinosaur in the other hand. I don’t put limits on them. If they want cars or a football, we get it.”
This flexibility is healthy for fathers and children. Dr. Butner agrees, “Fathers who most effectively bless their daughters do so by being intentional about their time, pursuing good mental, emotional, and spiritual health for themselves first. And then, they are intentional about sharing meaningful time with their daughters in conversations and activities that matter. Their lives are built on a firm foundation, and they generously share that foundation with their girls.” Sharing favorite interests with one another builds a bond that lasts throughout life. Consistency and intentionality go a long way in establishing a strong father/daughter connection.
“There’s nothing my girls can do that will ever change the way I love them. Unconditional. No stipulations. I know they’re going to make mistakes, but even if I have to come down on them, it doesn’t mean that I love them any less. I will raise them to be good people and let them know they can always depend on me,” James promises. ■