There is nothing quite like the bond between a father and his newborn baby daughter. When he first holds her in his arms and gazes into her eyes, it seems that nothing will ever come between them.
Bonding With Your Daughter in the Younger Years
For fathers and daughters, the act of bonding begins at ground zero. They define love at first sight. As your baby grows and enters toddler years and childhood, you'll want to engage in bonding activities tailored to her attention span and stage of development.
Have Your Very Own Book Club
Reading is crucial to children's cognitive development, and reading as a family is a wonderful way to bond. Consider bonding with your daughter by having a daddy-daughter book club. If your child is not reading independently yet, choose a book and read a chapter together each night. Discuss the characters and the setting, make predictions, and think of extension activities related to the book. If your daughter is older and craves alone time, you can each read independently in the evening and discuss what you read the next day.
This is an excellent bonding activity for fathers who live far away from their daughters and have to parent via long distance. Dads and daughters can select books to read together virtually or read independently and then discuss on FaceTime or on Zoom.
You don't have to construct the Taj Mahal with your daughter, but building something with her will be a bonding activity that she will carry in heart and memory long past her younger years. If you are capable of creating a tree fort or playhouse, all the more power to you. She will love watching something just for her come to life. If major construction projects falls way out of your wheelhouse, consider something on a smaller scale, like constructing a bench, a birdhouse, or window boxes. Let your daughter help with plans, tools, and decorating the finished product.
Hold Monthly Dinner Dates
Young kids will love looking forward to one evening in the month where it is just daughter, daddy, and loads of pizza. Carve out the time to take your special little lady to local eateries, trying a different one each month. Use this time to talk, laugh, and try new foods and enjoy each other's company.
Teach Her Something Truly Special
You will spend the majority of your life passing nuggets of wisdom to your daughter, but while she is young, take the time to teach her something truly special. Choose one thing that you want to pass on to her and make sure that she understands why it is important and how to do it. If your father built you a kite in your youth, teach her to build one too. Tell her stories of how her grandfather did this with you many years ago. Maybe there is a family recipe that has been passed down for generations. If so, spend several Sundays cooking with your girl and teaching her about the recipe, her culture, and her family heritage.
Have a "Yes" Day
This is one special day where you pretty much say yes to her every command. Dads, you will want to do this no more than once a year so that it remains novel and special, but also because daughters have more demands than the sky has stars. If she wants ice cream for dinner, you say yes. If she wants to wear a princess gown or Star Wars costume to school, her wish is granted. "Yes" day discludes things like purchasing a pony or giving her a baby brother. Even "Yes" Day has hard lines in the sand. For one day per year, you really do make all of her dreams and wishes come true, (sans pony!)
Take Your Daughter to Work Day
This won't work for everyone, but for some fathers and daughters, a day in the office is exciting and educational. Show her the ropes and share some work secrets with her in the staff lounge. Introduce her to the people you spend eight hours a day with and treat her like an adult long before she is one. Make sure to clock out for a special daddy-daughter lunch and consider sliding her a few bills for any helpful jobs she does while on the clock.
Connecting With Your Teenage Daughter
Here is where it gets sticky for a lot of fathers and daughters. The teenage years can be a challenging time to connect with your daughter, who is currently sitting firmly in between camp child and camp adult. These creative bonding activities are so fun that she will almost forget that everything about dad makes her groan and roll her eyes and everything about her seems designed specifically to annoy you.
Take Her Shopping
It is a simple thing to do, simple...not cheap. Take your teenager shopping and buy her all of those horrible clothes she loves that cost a small fortune. In order to combat teenage tantrums and mall meltdowns, make sure you set a budget and some guidelines prior to your shopping date. Give her a monetary limit and remind her of rules regarding certain items of clothing that she may want, but you don't allow. Sure, she will act put off that you dared step into her kingdom, otherwise known as the local mall, but secretly she will be so happy that you (and your wallet) are there with her.
Indulge a Fashion Fantasy
You took her shopping, and you both survived. Well done! Because of your daddy-daughter shopping day, you now know a little more about your darling daughter's style. If she wants to dye her hair or pierce her ears, be the one to take her to do that. You don't have to indulge every fashion fantasy, but choose one that you can live with and make that dream happen. Enjoy your day of being "the cool dad."
Plan a One-on-One Weekend Trip
Once your daughter hits those teen years, she becomes independent enough to travel the world with. She can dress and maintain herself, use the bathroom independently, and entertain herself during downtime. Because of her newfound skills, you two can head out on more complex and exciting excursions. Plan a few weekend trips throughout the year for you and your teenage daughter. Choose places in the world that she might find interesting. If she is into sports, take in an away game of her favorite team. If she loves art, visit a museum or exhibit out of town. Even if she appears to be bothered by this roadblock to her weekends of hiding up in her dark bedroom, she will probably look back on these weekends fondly.
Support Her Interests
This is no quick bonding activity to squeeze into a weekend, this one takes time and thoughtful consideration. When your daughter was younger, she could not WAIT to share her love of whatever with you. In fact, you probably prayed for the day that she stopped talking about ballet or gymnastics or whatever it was that consumed her mind and her time. Well, those prayers of silence get answered in the teenage years and suddenly, you may find that your daughter has gone mute in the sharing department.
Dig into what makes her tick, and once you find what that is, infuse yourself into her world. If she loves soccer and plays on a team, take her and her teammates to practice, block out your work calendar so that you can see her games, and participate in tournaments. If she loves music, take her to concerts and sit through what you consider mind-numbing sounds. Your interests might be as different as night and day, but spending time doing what she loves will remind her that you are forever in her corner.
Have a Movie Night
Remember when she was little and could not wait to go out to dinner with you? Yeah, teens are not as keen on dates with daddy as they used to be. Change this tradition up and have movie-junk food nights with your teenage daughter. Buy all of those snacks that the other parent forbids and binge-watch a few great flicks. Stay up late and break some rules. Teens love breaking rules!
Staying Strong and United With Grown Daughters
You have weathered the often turbulent storms of the teen years and now have the distinct pleasure of watching your daughter take on adulthood. This stage of the parenting game is full of trepidation (holy cow did you give her all the tools that she needs to achieve success?) and pride, (you did it, she is on her own, and bonus! You all survived!) Bonding with your adult daughter looks much different than it did when she was young, but it is still important.
Channel Some Adrenaline
Now that you are both adults, step into the world of adventure. Take your adult daughter on a zip-lining excursion, go skiing, or try wakeboarding. She is grown now, and if you suggest something that is not up her alley, she can confidently say so. She is also old enough to be "in the know" regarding new fast and furious adventures. She might be able to suggest an activity that you would have never thought of.
Take a Class
Choose something that interests you both and go for it! Meet up at a pottery class, an art studio, or her apartment for guitar lessons. With both of you being responsible adults now, and knowing how to use a calendar, you can easily choose and coordinate learning a new skill with one another.
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane
Life goes by fast, and you will not be around forever. Make time with your adult daughter to reminisce about the good old days. Look through old photo albums or curl up on the couch and laugh about some of your favorite blunders. Drive to an old fishing hole or walk through a park that was a special place in childhood. Bonding opportunities don't have to be extravagant, they only have to be thoughtful.
Get Your Grandparenting On
Becoming a grandparent is even better than being a parent! Once your daughter grows up and becoming a parent herself, throw yourself into the lives of her and her children. Being there for your grandkids' major milestones will mean the world to your daughter. Watching you play with her little ones and teach them all that you know will remind her of how truly fortunate she was to grow up with a father like you.
The Beautiful Rollercoaster That Is Raising Daughters
That tiny newborn baby leaves a massive imprint on a father's heart. The parenting experience is full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The younger years bring a balance of immense joy, worry, and sleeplessness. There is no smooth sailing in the seas of teenage female years, and the father-daughter bond will be tested in unimaginable ways. Slamming doors, echoes of screams, and cries will make dad wonder where on earth his baby girl went and who is this irrational, hormonal tidal wave of a human in her place? Suddenly she is grown, ready to spread her wings and fly away and dads find themselves pondering where in the heck the time went?
Parenthood really is a beautiful and messy blur.
Enjoy Your Daughter at Every Age
It can be a challenge for dads and daughters to hold tight to the bond that they spent many years creating, and every stage of development will bring forth changes in how dads and daughters spend their time together. Even when daddy-daughter quality time seems hopeless, don't give up dads! Maintaining a father-daughter relationship is completely worth the hard work and perseverance in the end.