What Teen Daughters Wish Their Dads Knew

“My dad still thinks I’m a little girl, and I’m going to college next year! I wish he knew how that makes me feel insecure and not ready. I’m getting good grades, doing cheer, going to church and have a job. Why can’t he see me for a capable young woman rather than someone he needs to protect or control?” asked seventeen year-old Leticia.

“Could you tell him that?” I asked.

Her forehead wrinkled, “Oh no! I couldn’t … plus he wouldn’t want to hear it!”

“What do you wish your dad knew about you and what you need?”

“I wish dad would not act like his way is the only way, and that he’s always right. I’d like for him to see that I have my own opinion, values and point of view; but he doesn’t take the time to listen and see how mature I really am. Just once, I’d like to hear him sincerely ask for forgiveness when he blows it, instead of a casual ‘my bad.’”


 “What else would you like him to know?”

“That I want a relationship with him, not just guidance. He thinks all teenage girls just want stuff, but honestly, I want love, attention and affection. It seems like he’s dropped the affection and kicked up the correction the last few years. I’d like to have daddy-daughter dates like we used to.”

“Anything else?”

“Yeah, I guess I’d like my dad to affirm me for my character, wise choices and commitment rather than my just my grades and appearance. I want him to compliment my heart, not just my hair.”

Dads, you make a huge impact on your daughter. Her self-confidence, ambition, sense of worth, relationship and career success are highly influenced by your example and relationship. I think Leticia, said it very well; but I’d add a few things to her list, based on my research and asking other daughters what they wish their dad knew.

Demonstrate sacrifice and other-centeredness to your daughter. Let her see you serve others in need, so she learns it’s not all about her. Show her how you love her mom by putting her needs above your own. Your daughter is watching how you treat your wife and will likely find a guy who is like you.

Allow your daughter freedom. As she gets older, focus less on control and more on preparing her to be autonomous. This includes allowing her to have an opinion that is different than yours. It also means being patient as she learns to navigate life and makes mistakes. Hey, you weren’t perfect as a teen; don’t expect her to be.

A few days after meeting with Leticia, I asked eighteen year-old Rachel what she wished dads knew about teenage daughters:


1) You are usually the ones we go to if we can’t get something from our mother
2) Your cooking is generally the best in the house
3) Let us come to enjoy the things you enjoy (sports, driving, etc.) on our own time
4) We’re more willing to do things with you than you think
5) We have our own means of intimidation on the first date.”

Here’s a short video of our daughter Brooke and I talking about healthy daddy-daughter relationships. Check out others at ParentsC0achTV

©2014 Timothy Smith