As I sat in my bed the other night, the giggles of two little girls could be heard from across the house. While they should’ve be in their own beds and going to sleep, it was beyond obvious that they were still wide awake as they whispered to one another.
I could hear that they were talking about what they wanted to do the next day and talking about how they loved our pet rabbit, Jasper, and then there was the occasional giggle from a silly joke. I generally try to be a little lenient at bed time and wait a few minutes before giving them a bedtime reminder. However, as I got up and started making my way to their room, I could hear my oldest—who is now almost 7 years old—talk about a boy in her class that she said was her boyfriend.
I pretended not to hear what they were talking about as I walked in and reminded them that it was time for bed. However, the topic really caught my attention. Not that I was worried about this young man, but because it caused me to reflect on what it is women look for in a man later in life.
As the father of two little girls, I know that one day they’ll enter the world of dating and finding a partner for this adventure we call life. And I also know that as the main male role model of their lives, everything I do, is being watched very, very, carefully. Even if they do not realize it, my daughters are watching me.
As fathers, we must realize that we are the guide by which our daughters will judge other potential suitors. Every interaction we have with a woman, especially their mother, is a mark as to what is acceptable. If they hear us talk down to the woman we claim to love, they’ll remember that. If we never show affection both as a father and as a husband, they’ll remember that too.
As each day and interaction passes, their minds are building a “this is the way things are” type of bank. If we deposit love, kindness, and respect into the bank, we shouldn’t be surprised when that is the currency they carry as adults as well. Yet, if we deposit hate, disrespect, and a lack of attention, we shouldn’t be surprised when they pick a partner who exhibits many of those same qualities.
Every book read together, every snuggle on the couch before bed, and every “I love you” spoken is a small, but meaningful deposit of love and kindness. Just like every “please” and “thank you” spoken is a part of the model for how a man is supposed to behave and treat others. They might not remember every time those words were exchanged, but they will remember if they felt loved.
It’s in those every day expressions of love that a man’s character is revealed. And if the idea of your daughter ending up with a man with the same moral character as you is terrifying, then it’s time for a change. A change not only for you but for them—as their role model for what it means to be a loving and supportive man in an often-cold world. Your words and actions now are the building blocks of their future relationships.
It’ll be the saddest and happiest moment of my life to give them away on their wedding day—I can already feel the water works starting now. I can only hope that they carry on the love and support I aim to show them every day. I love them the way only a father can, and for that they deserve the very best out of me.