Studies have shown that father-daughter relationships can have a big impact on a girl’s self-confidence, self-image, and future dating habits. With Valentine’s Day approaching, fathers have a good opportunity to expand on this notion by creating healthy love rituals with their little girls. This goes beyond gifts and material items. This is about using Valentine’s Day to create a deeper bond with loved ones. In this case, daddies and daughters have a chance to connect, reconnect, or create new traditions that can have a lifetime impact, which transcends age and without breaking the bank.
“The first thing that comes to mind is that we want to think about it in terms of age,” says Dr. Dawn Thurman, of Ready. Set. Grow! Therapy. “The way that a dad might dote on his daughter from birth to seven, eight, or nine is different than preteens, versus teens, versus a young woman, so we definitely need to take that into consideration.”
Keeping that in mind, Dr. Thurman helped us explore five easy and low-cost ways fathers can show bond with their daughters on Valentine’s Day and beyond.
Karaoke can be for children of all ages, but you may likely have the most fun and cooperation with this with children in the early childhood phase of life. It’s more than just a sing-a-long. “When it’s early childhood, you might want to spend more physical time together doing things like, karaoke singing to her dancing playing her favorite game,” says Dr. Thurman. “Just those little activities , that might make you even feel goofy, mean the world to little kids because what they’re going to hold on to is that feeling of, “Daddy loves me, and he likes me.” This activity creates an opportunity to make great memories, learn more about your child’s temperament and interests, and encourage active communication, teamwork and compromise.
- Tea Party
This is another fun activity for children in the early childhood phase of life. You can grab some of their favorite treats and set up a table with some of their favorite stuffed animals. “That focused time together, can really be impactful for your child,” adds, Dr. Thurman. “That time together means, “I love you.”
- Spa Day
Preteens are in transition, so they may not be into a tea party or anything that could be considered goofy. However, you could set up a spa day. It doesn’t take much to create a great pampering day: nail painting, facial care regimen, good food, music and laughter. “Preteens may be self-conscious, so it’s important to really understand what works for your child,” says Dr. Thurman. “Even If you don’t have the Foot Spa, you can get a bucket—they key it to make it fun. These doting activities remind her that she is important and valued. “Preteens might also be into dancing and trends. Add some party time to the day. They can teach you their favorite dance on Tik Tok.”
- Dinner and a Movie At Home
You can cook her favorite meal together or find a recipe you’ve always wanted to try and navigate the cooking process as a team. Later on, turn on your favorite movie and enjoy. “For teenagers, I think it’s important for dads to model how a young man should treat [them],” adds Dr. Thurman. “Don’t wait until they’re emerging adults at 19 or 20 to tell them this. They should know this from 13 through 18. That type of quality time says, “My undivided attention is on you.”
- Don’t Forget Adult Children
“We sometimes forget about parenting adults. Just because your child is 25, doesn’t mean you’re not her parent or her father,” says Dr. Thurman. “There is value in checking on her, even if she has a spouse, even if she has a loved one. It’s just so affirming and validating to know that that place in your dad’s heart is still there.” Adults are busy but your child is your child forever. You can still let your grown-up child that you’re thinking of them whether it’s a phone call, brunch, or taking an art class together. It may be harder to get together due to Covid but remember that adult children appreciate the love too.