I often talk about how my dad has encouraged, supported, and loved me in incredible ways throughout my life and through all ups and downs growing up.
My dad has been one of the biggest role models in my life. Because we are very similar in the way we think and operate I have looked up to my dad in all aspects of my life.
Here are 10 ways A Dad Can Raise an Empowered Daughter, written by me (Sarah).
1. Never allow the word “can’t” in their vocabulary, teach her to be determined and never give up.
I was trying to do a present for a guy….had the board and trying to hold the nail. I call them, “Bad One Arm Days”…bawling and crying…dad heard me and came to my room and asked what was wrong…on a 0 to 10 scale …one of my worst melt downs ever…dad said things in a calm voice…one of the most calm he’s ever been. Usually mom is more compassionate. Dad said to “think and assess…and I’ll be back.”
I was mad at my arm that it wouldn’t work….there’s not a lot I can’t do. But this one I could not figure out no matter how hard I tried. Dad came back 5-10 minutes later and I was still bawling….and I wanted to give up (which isn’t typical). He told me we can’t give up….he brought in a tool thing with a clip on the clamp and he said you can hold your little arm down on the wire and then hold the nail with your other arm.
In this moment my dad set me up for success.
2. Let her figure challenges out on her own, but let her know you are always there.
My dad figured out how to put my hair up…paint my nails…and ride my bike. He put his hand behind his back and tried to use one hand to pretend how to get the rubber band off his arm to hair…and taught me how to tie my shoes…he did it first with one hand. He taught me to paint my nails….put it on my little arm in the crease… He’s an electrical engineer….so he helped to engineer a solution.
My dad puts himself in my shoes, literally.
To dads who don’t have a daughter with a physical difference, but still struggles to look through her eyes at times. I think it all runs together. Think about what a father is, a father is loving, cautious, and kind. Everyone in this world does things differently and that’s okay. Your daughter isn’t you and you aren’t your daughter but if you teach her what matters, tricks, tips, and show her ways to do things kindly and lovingly her attitude will change and so will yours. Instead of looking through your own eyes as the only way, look through hers and see things from her perspective because remember she is at a different stage of life than you. A stage you probably were at once.
3. Push her to always do and be her best.
My dad has always told me….
I love to be right and I like arguments. Dad said it’s more important to show Gods’ love or grace than prove yourself….he’s always taught me that. He’s the same way and has gotten hurt so wants me learn from that dad.
How does a dad know how hard to push his daughter? Any suggestions on navigating that whole thing, especially if a daughter needs to be pushed but reacts when her dad tries to do that?
I think it’s a father’s intuition on how hard to push her. It all depends on how hard she wants to be pushed too. I think to navigate it, look at her strengths and her weaknesses. Try your absolute best to read her and understand what she needs at that time. I think all kids react at some point or say dad your pushing me too hard. I remember telling my dad this when I ran cross country but in reality I knew he wasn’t really pushing me too hard, I was pushing myself too hard because I didn’t want to let him down. he was just being a dad and wanted me to be my best self. A dad knows what’s best for his daughter, he knows her limits, and if he feels like he doesn’t don’t be afraid to ask her.
4. Instill the love of Jesus in her.
Ever since ever I have seen Jesus at work. I have been blessed to have been raised in a Christian and faith filled home. But really, instilling the love of Jesus in a child comes from the parents. It comes from how they treat their child, how they treat each other, and how they treat other people. My dad has let me know that yes he is my dad but there is a greater father that created me, that formed me perfectly with his hands, and died for me so that I could be saved. Because of my faith, I am strong, I am fearless, and confident in Christ.
5. Teach her to not always be right, but instead always be kind and share God’s love.
I stand confidently and focus on kindness by standing with God. I always imagine to myself what would Jesus say if he were in my position instead of myself. I always think to myself, I am placed on this Earth to spread God’s love and bring people home to Him. Therefore it is my responsibility to show how Jesus was. Jesus didn’t worry about being right but he did always want to be kind. And sometimes it’s really tough, but if I try to be right instead of kind I am not fulfilling my purpose here on earth.
6. Let her know that she is perfectly created by a God that loves her and she never needs to change
How you your dad helped you know you’ve been created perfectly and you never need to change?
Dad has always said, “Brush it off….don’t let kids make you feel bad…Yes, you’re different, we’re all different.” Senior year of high school ate lunch alone in a classroom of a teacher. Kids were mean in tweets on social media….sharing things about what I was doing on social media…
My dad taught me that my worth isn’t found in people, material items, Instagram likes, or words people say to me. My worth is found in Jesus. He always reminded me that yes words hurt, but not if you don’t let them. He made me stand up for myself, taught me how to be strong and always be myself. My dad taught me that I am more than the girl with one arm, that we all have marks, even the bullies. If kids stare let them stare, you cant blend in when you were born to stand out.
I am strong because I know that nothing anyone has ever said to me like that matters. Maybe they are going through something really tough too. We all are right? I stayed strong because I knew that I had to. There were other kids that looked to me and I want to always be an example, that’s why I share my story the good and the bad because I want people to know what I did and that they aren’t alone in these difficult times. When I was little and someone stared at me I use to wave my little arm to make them feel uncomfortable. And I like to make a joke about my arm. Like an alligator bit it off. If you noticed someone pointing and laughing tell them your story, say “hey I was born this way, and your staring and laughing hurt my feelings”
If you feel sad, or are feeling bullied, try your best to ignore their mean words and do your best to be kind to them even if they aren’t kind to you. Because maybe the bully is feeling sad too.
7. You have to be a friend to have a friend.
Do you have any practical suggestions for dads who don’t always understand their daughters when it comes to their drama-filled relationships being important to them and they don’t always have the patience for all the complexity of female relationships? Maybe something either from your own life or something your dad modeled to you or taught you---that’s helped you be a good friend?
I would encourage your daughter to stay out of the drama, my dad always did or he would say, “Sarah it’s not worth the tears.” My dad has always taught be to listen, listen to others and be the person that they need. Teen years are hard, and friends come and go. Let your daughter know that and let her know that some friends are real friends. If they talk bad bout ya they you don’t need that negativity or type of “friend” in your life. Honestly, just be real and raw with her. Speak truth.
8. Once you start something always finish it and see it through to the end.
I get asked this question from parents all the time, “How are you so strong?” They want that for their kids. My dad said, “Sarah, figure it out on your own first and I’m here when you need me.”
I don’t want to disappoint my dad….I always wanted to be the best runner so my dad wouldn’t be disappointed. He said he’ll always be proud of me but it’s mental in me…I’m holding myself to that standard.
My dad and I are wired the same. But I truly believe all of my values because I saw him truly live them out. He didn’t just tell me one thing and not do it. He practiced what he preached. There were many times when I wanted to give up or quit and my dad got stern with me and said Sarah we don’t quit. You started it now finish it with a good attitude and always do your best.
9. Be a leader not a follower.
I think I am just wired with leader instincts but I do think that dads can teach their daughters to stop trying to be someone they aren’t or following what their friends do because what their friends do might not be for them. Don’t be the girl who changes for friend group, or boy. Be the girl that say’s if you don’t like who I am then I don’t need ya. I think if a dad leads his family, and shows leadership skills at home his daughter will see that, follow, and look for that in a future husband.
10. Stand up for what you believe in even if its against the norm.
My dad taught me that it’s not about what’s popular, it’s about what you believe in. If you don’t believe it’s right than share your thought and stand your ground. But do so in a respectful and loving manner.
GO tell your daughter you love her, support her, and promise to lead her through every good and bad time.
GO tell her that she’s beautiful and never needs to change.
GO start to challenge your daughter to step outside her comfort zone and push her to always show love and kindness
To listen to the radio show on this topic with Dr. Michelle Watson Click here:
Well known for her love for Jesus, coffee, and having one arm. Sarah share's stories in her life in hope to help others. She wants you to know that,
"Our differences do not define who we are but are a part of the story that God has written for our lives."
Sarah says, " I hope that I can be someone to relate to in a world of untold real stories. Everything I write is from my heart and real."
"We are all created imperfectly perfect by God, we should be proud of our imperfections and differences, they make us who we are today but do not define us, know that you are beautiful and remind yourself of this everyday."