The words every daughter needs to hear from her dad

I read somewhere that the average four year old asks over 400 questions a day. If true, my child is above average.

Her favorite word lately is Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

One of our recurring conversations yesterday started like this:

Mercy: “Do you love Mercy?”

Me: “Yes, I love you.”

Mercy: “Why?”

Fathers, when your daughter asks why you love her, “Because I just do” is not the answer.

After having this same conversation several times, the light bulb went on—a daughter needs not only to hear her daddy say, “I love you,” she needs him to tell her why he loves her. Whether she’s 4, 14, or 24 years old (especially between 14 and 24), daughters need this. She wants to hear what it is about her that I love.

I could tell her, “I love you because you’re so smart.” Or, “I love you because you’re so beautiful.” But this is where we need to be very careful as fathers. I don’t want to unintentionally communicate that her worth and my love are in any way based on her appearance or her accomplishments.

Meg Meeker gives this advice to fathers: “Many times fathers make innocent comments that are hurtful to daughters. If you comment on her weight, physical appearance, athletic prowess, or academic achievement, she’ll focus on her ‘external self’ and worry about retaining your love through her achievement and appearance. Your daughter wants you to admire her deep, intrinsic qualities.” (Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters)

“Mercy, I love your kind and loving heart.” “I love you because there’s no one else in the world like you.” “I love you because when Mommy and Daddy prayed for a little girl, He gave us you.” “I love you because you are a special gift from God.”

This morning during breakfast Mercy got out of her chair, threw her arms out to her side, and announced: “I’m a gift from God!!!” Then, of course, came a question: “Did you open this gift from God?”

Me: “Yes, I opened the gift and said, ‘Wow, I love it!’ Thank you, God! This is the best gift ever!’”

Tell your daughter often that you love her, then tell why you love her.