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Communication Tips For Dads With Their Daughters

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 20, 2021 2:00 am

Communication Tips For Dads With Their Daughters

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 20, 2021 2:00 am

Men often like to cut to the bottom line of a conversation, but a girl's heart often opens by sharing words. Michelle Watson Canfield bridges that gap by sharing practical communication tips, along with ideas of what to do when a daughter pulls away.

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One of the ways we communicate to others that they are important to us is by giving them our undivided attention.

Michelle Watson Canfield says that's especially true in the relationship between fathers and daughters. This is Family Life Today. Our hosts are David and Wilson. I'm Bob Lapine. You can find us online at

One of the necessary skills to be a good listener is to know how to ask really good questions. We're going to talk today about how dads can do that with their daughters. Stay with us. Welcome to Family Life Today.

Thanks for joining us. I grew up in St. Louis. In St. Louis, there's a big park in midtown St. Louis called Forest Park. In the middle of Forest Park is an outdoor amphitheater. Every summer, they have Broadway musicals that are shown at this outdoor amphitheater.

They'll have six or seven shows every summer. We got season tickets when I was a kid. So I grew up seeing Broadway musicals in my hometown of St. Louis.

I loved all of this. There was one musical I remember seeing that featured a carnival worker named Billy Bigelow. He met young Julie Jordan, and they fell in love.

They got married. It was called Carousel, Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. And there's a point in this musical.

You have no idea what I'm talking about. I was listening to the Beatles. You got it right.

And I'm gonna find out from our guest, Michelle Watson-Kenfield. Welcome back to the program. Thank you.

Glad to be back. Do you know what I'm talking about? Okay, all right. Well, you will be interested in this. There's a point in this where Julie tells Billy they're going to have a baby. And Billy has this scene where he goes out and he starts singing this song about how great it's gonna be to have a son. That's my boy, Bill.

He'll be tall and as tough as a tree. And he's just singing all about little Bill and what a tough guy he's gonna be. In the middle of the song, it dawns on Billy Bigelow. It might not be a boy. He goes, what if he is a she? And then he stops and he's having to recalibrate.

And there's a line in the song where he says you can have fun with a son, but you got to be a daddy to a girl. And he's starting to wrap his arms around. I won't even know what to do with her. I won't know how to interact with her. And over the course of the song, he starts to get, well, it might not be as bad as you think. And she could be sweet. And he's starting to get used to this idea.

I've been thinking about that song since I came across the copy of your book, Michelle, which is called Let's Talk. You are laying out for dads of daughters how vital, how important a relationship between a father and a daughter is. Don't you think most men feel intuitively more equipped to be fathers to sons than they do to be fathers of daughters? I have seen that to be true over the last decade of coaching dads of daughters. And yet at the end of the day, I have so many dads, their face lights up when they talk about having a daughter. I mean, do you remember that when you had looked at your daughter for the first time?

How was it different than looking at your son? There's an emotional bonding. There's an emotional connection between fathers and daughters that I think is very different. We have three boys and two girls.

The girls came first. So I had to connect there right from the start, but it was not hard because there is a part of your heart that goes to a daughter in a different way than your heart goes to your son. Yeah. I have dads send me pictures. Even I can think of my friend, Steve, you know, his son was three when his daughter was born and she's on his chest and he sends me a photo going, this is different.

Yeah. And I feel it. And so that's why I want dads to go back and pull up pictures of when their daughters were young and it was easy and they felt that. What is it that they feel? Is it a sense of protectiveness?

What do you think, Bob? I do think it's a sense of care and nurture and protection. We feel a need to care for our daughters in a different way. Our sons are kind of like, you can figure this out on your own. You're tough.

You can go out and do it. But with the daughter, you feel like, no, I need to be there for you and to be out in front. Yeah, I think protection is really at the heart of it all. But you can hear the tenderness in his voice when he's talking about the nurture and the care. And so I really believe that that directive in scripture, right?

Malachi 4-6, Luke 1-17, where God says he wants to turn the hearts, not just the heads of fathers to their children, is that God may probably pretty creatively be putting daughters into families so that dads develop that skill set. And I believe it's a command because it doesn't come as intuitively for men. And I always say, you know, you poor men, I say, men read lines. Women read between the lines.

Where are you better? Like, where'd you get that out of that? We're thinking, how did you not see that? It was so obvious. So that's really been my goal with this book is to write things on the lines for men to understand what heart engagement looks like with us as daughters. And it's that you have to soften your tone. You have to drop the anger.

You need to slow down and pace with her, read her eyes, those kinds of things. As you practice them, men, you're going to engage the heart of your daughter and you're going to grow in the process. I was just like, that sounds great.

Do that to our wives. Yes, it sounds so good. Yeah, and I may be the opposite.

I'm sitting there going, oh, wow, that's impossible. Did you feel that? No, there's a sense of that's so hard. Like even with granddaughters. Yeah, with Olive, our granddaughter, it is such not a daughter, obviously, but a granddaughter is so different. I've raised sons.

You just get them in a room and rough house and do whatever. And with Olive, she wants to talk. It's so funny because Dave will be on the phone because I don't even know what to do right now.

But what you're saying, Michelle, is so true. It forces me as a man to go heart. Yes. I can't just stay head.

With a boy, again, I'm not making too many generalities, but it's easier with head to head. Let's throw something around. Let's run into something. Olive and a daughter would want to talk and it forces me to go emotion. Yes. Heart to heart. And I got to be honest, part of me is like, I'm out.

Right. You know, this is hard. I don't do this every day. My wife's been asking me to do this for 40 years.

She's still frustrated. Now I've got a daughter or granddaughter doing it. I can go to work and get things done, you know? And I think that's what we do as men. We check out and we shouldn't.

Right. Well, I love giving practical action steps to men because we're over here, right, holding the goods. We're like, it's so obvious. And men are like, you got to put it on the lines for me so that I understand what you're saying.

Do you think your listeners would love a really practical way to learn how to ask questions, even if they don't even get the book? Sure. Okay.

Here it is, men. You take the last word of the sentence you just heard or the key word of the sentence you just heard to ask a follow-up. So sometimes when you go, I'm out, you're like, I don't even know what to say next. There were so many words.

You lost me a couple of accents back. Okay. Key word or last word. So you pick her up from school and you go, hi, honey, how was your day? And she says? She says, well, this happened first and then this happened and then, or no, she says it was fine. Men would say, oh, good. I'm glad you had a good day. And you get home and mom goes, how was her day? And you go, fine. Well, that's a non-answer answer on Venus.

We think if you really cared, you'd ask us more questions. Well, I would think if she said fine, something happened today. Uh-huh. That's the clue. Like, oh boy, I need to dig in here.

Whereas men think if she wants to tell me more, she'll tell me more. So you're telling me I should just go, so what's fine me? What was fine? Yes. Bingo.

Take those who, what, when, where, why, how that we learned in school and link it up with whatever you hear. Yeah. What about your day was fine? She'll tell you something.

She may say, then she'll go fast. Yeah. Right. Remember that guy in school? Remember Aaron, the one I like in music? And I totally died when he looked at me and everybody was watching me and my face turned red and off she is. And you think, I have no idea what to ask next. What was the key word? The boy's name.

There's not a right or wrong. I mean, it could be that she was in music class and you go, so what was that like in music class then when everyone looked? So you don't have to come up with a whole different question to stay engaged at a heart level.

But you know what? My husband just said this book should have been called Let's Talk and Listen. Because really, the more a dad can listen to his daughter, he gives her a gift of building her self-esteem because he's saying you're worth listening to. So that she doesn't have to go out, and I say the world in quotes, but everywhere else in order to be heard because daddy wants to hear her. So when you listen to your daughter, you esteem her, you give her a gift. And if you're lost in that conversation, what are the two things? Last word or the key word in the sentence?

Hook it up with a who, what, when, where, how. You can throw a why in there if you want. A lot of times I always say why is kind of a looping question. Why did you do that?

I don't know. But if you say, what were you thinking when you did that? See, it's a different kind of conversation that you'll have. I just say, this is fascinating. Tell me more.

And you don't even have to be paying attention to say that. Oh, I kind of melt just hearing that. Like, oh, do you really want to hear more?

And Dave inside could be thinking, no, I don't want to. But I'm smiling. No, I mean, if you love someone, you do want to know more.

You do really want to know their heart. It's work. Sometimes it's work with a wife or a daughter or son. It's just work.

And sometimes you get exhausted and tired and you don't want to put in the energy. And I think all of us sitting around this table are old enough to say they're going to be gone before you know it. You're going to blink.

We used to say, oh, it's forever. No, you're going to blink. And you don't want to miss this moment. You've got her in the car. You've got her on a date. You've got whatever. Don't miss this moment.

Do the work to draw out her heart. And maybe you're a grandfather and you did miss the moment with your girls. It's never too late to reestablish that relationship. And even with your grandkids, it could look different. Have you seen that where men go back to their adult daughters?

Absolutely. And I love that you just said, and it's never too late because, again, I have seen more tears from men over that idea of either they're estranged from their daughters. There's been divorce and they're out, and it does feel like they'll never win her heart back like it was when she was little. And I tell dads, OK, here's another practical idea. Get a journal and begin to document in it with date and time prayers for her, thoughts for her, memories you have of her, dreams for her future, things you wish you could tell her. And I believe that when God works to put that relationship back together, you will have this time capsule of data to say, see, you were never far from my heart. I don't care what you heard or what you believed.

Because, again, you're building that bridge to God as a father who says, I don't care how much of a pill you are. I am never turning my back on you. Well, I remember being 14 and I have two brothers and a sister that are older. And at 14, I would have said, I really don't know my dad.

He's super busy, totally engaged with my brothers into sports. And even though I was into sports, I would have told a counselor I feel very unseen. My dad doesn't hear me. Even we had dinner at the dinner table and I think I was in the first or second grade. And I started talking about my day and my dad hushed me.

He said, Ann, it's not your time to talk. And he turned to one of my brothers and said, it's his time. And I remember thinking, it crushed my spirit. And what does that say? It says, my father doesn't want to hear me or see me. And that can connect me to God.

Does God want to hear me? And so my uncle had cancer and my mom was taking him to chemotherapy when I was 14. And so my dad and I, I'm the youngest, and so it was just my dad and I alone.

And my dad isn't a cook. And so he said, let's go out to eat. And I felt so nervous as a 14-year-old. I thought, I don't know this guy.

He's never really talked to me. And we sat at Bill Knapp's and I was nervous. I was like, I need to get home. I have a boyfriend.

I need to do homework. And I was really fidgety. And he said, he looked at me, said, yeah, you're a little uncomfortable, aren't you? You know, I'm like, oh, I'm fine.

What are you talking about? And I said, are you ready to go? And he goes, no. Nods to the waitress. He's like, I'd like another cup of coffee.

And, you know, I roll my eyes like, oh, no. And they said, let's get some dessert. And I'm thinking, no, because I felt like I was with a stranger. And as he sat and he drank his coffee for the first time, he started asking me questions about me.

It had never happened. And that happened for probably six months. And it brings tears to my eyes because it was the first time my dad saw me. He had more power in my – I had a great relationship with my mom, but I had this longing for my dad.

And that shaped me. I tell him that my dad's 92. And I tell him now, like, that is when everything shifted for me. I learned more from those six months of having dinner once a week with you than most of my life. And that relationship has just continued to grow. Even at 92, I'm still learning things about my dad.

I'm so glad you shared that, Anne, because even with my dad, I'm the oldest of four girls. And I've always been a mouth. I mean, my report card said, Michelle talks too much. And, you know, having been single, right, till I was 60, I think I've been too much for a lot of men. Either talk too much or too much emotion, too overpowering in vision or whatever. And I think it's easy for us as women to want to shrink back and say, I'm too much for the world.

And yet men are encouraged oftentimes to go there. But a few years ago, maybe five, I remember my dad and I were talking about words, and he actually said to me, Michelle, I'm going to be honest with you, your words wear me out. Oh.

And I said, I'm glad you're telling me. But as we know, God made us as introverts or extroverts, and we don't choose that. And so I think really dads that are listening need to hear that it's up to them to draw into the power of the Triune God. God is a father. The Holy Spirit is a nurturer, comforter. Jesus is an ally.

The Trinity is around you 24-7. And you will have what you need to engage the heart of your daughter, because the God who made them is your ally. And listen to the women in your lives. Her mom, an aunt, ask a coworker, what were you like at 14? What did you need?

Let women be coaches. That's another thing that is practical that may help men do what your dad did. But I love that you said he asked me questions.

Yes, it was the greatest gift. And he seemed interested. And he wasn't rebuking.

He wasn't correcting me. He just listened. And he's great at that, isn't he, Dave? He is one of the best question askers.

You come to his house, he's going to ask you everything. And the fact that he wasn't doing that with Ann and then started doing that, I think it's a big theme of your book that I found very important for us men to understand is we have what it takes. Those are your words.

You have what it takes. Talk about that a little bit, because I know when we first got married and then when I first became a dad, I thought, I don't have what it takes because I didn't have a dad. It was that I never saw it. I don't know what it looks like. I'm not sure what to do. And there's a part of men that become passive then like, wow, she does.

She'll do a great job and I'll just watch. And yet we're called to step in, you know, but we sort of think I don't have it. I'm not good at this. I'm going to go do what I'm good at.

I can work well, you know. So talk about that. You believe fathers do have it. Why do you believe that? Well, because God says they do. Right.

We don't sign up or qualify to be a parent. Right. It's God is saying, I'm endowing you with what you need. Right. In the spirit. So the truth is that the God who made you will equip you. Right.

Because you're called to do this. And my dad, much like you, he grew up on the south side of Chicago. Seven kids, three different last names. His dad was an alcoholic, died of gangrene. You know, he left when when my dad's mom put an iron on his face.

That was the last time he left. So my dad was in gangs from the time he was 12. I mean, no template of how to be a father. That's not an exaggeration. So then when I'm six years old, you know, my parents come to Christ and, you know, it's kind of a big, steep learning curve there.

He had no template. This is like you, you, honey. And so I don't know what your story is, Dave, but I imagine you're a bit like my dad of get around men who you admire as fathers and say, can we meet for coffee? Let them teach you. And that's what my dad did.

Went to seminary, you know, became a pastor. And men would say, you know, you need to get up 15 minutes earlier and do quiet times with your family before school. My dad comes home.

We're getting 15, getting up 15 minutes early. We're like, no. But I look back at that. When I went to Bible college, I remember taking a class and it was on, you know, creating family worship. What that looks like.

And I'm like, this is crazy. That's what my dad did. Not because anyone taught him inherently, but I think he watched. Good dads.

And then emulated that and brought it home. Well, it is interesting in your book, you have that father acrostic. And honestly, when I saw the F and I saw the word first, I'm like, oh, I'm going to go to the next one.

There's nothing here. You know, what's first? You know, father.

And then I read it and I'm like, genius. We are the ones to initiate first. It's so easy as a dad to wait for our daughter, wait for our son, wait for our spouse.

No, no, no, no, no. First you initiate. I know as dads and all parents, probably experiences when your kids become teenagers and start to pull away from you, which is totally normal. And they should, we let them pull away. And we're like, okay, I guess I'm sort of done rather than, no, no, no, no. It's on me first.

I need to pursue them. I need a different skill set. And here's another practical idea for dads is if your daughter starting to pull away and she's at quote that age, right? Where peers matter more, her physical appearance matters more, makeup, hair, right? Pre-adolescents. Dad, go get a pad of sticky notes or a dry erase marker and go right on your daughter's mirrors because when she looks in that mirror, she sees every flaw, doesn't she? Oh, absolutely.

Every flaw. And the voice in our head says, I mean, the stuff I hear from daughters in my counseling office, like beautiful women say they'll hear like you fat pig. And it starts when they're young, like early teens.

I've even heard some, yeah, as young as 10 already hearing like this voice. And it isn't interesting when I ask my counseling clients, they think I'm really smart, but I'm really not when I just listen. It's always second person. Yes, you. It's you. You are.

You are fat. You aren't this or you are that. Well, doesn't that invite the question who's talking? It's the father of lies.

It is the father of lies. Exactly. And so dads, again, because you represent God as a father, get a pad of sticky notes or a dry erase marker and write on her mirror in her bathroom, in her bedroom. You can even do the rear view mirror of her car if she's driving, like saying, I'm proud of you. I love you. I'm praying for you. You're beautiful to me. Oh, there is so much power in that. I think of myself looking in the mirror. I would guess most girls looking in the mirror are hearing the negative and with social media today, it's like a bullhorn in your head. And I remember thinking, you're so fat, you're so ugly.

And it was this onslaught of these lies. If my dad would have put one thing on it one time in my life, I would remember it would be a milestone marker. Look at that. It would counter what she's hearing in her head in real time. And I've had dads do this for the last decade. And they'll send me pictures where they'll say, the sticky note I put in the bathroom, it's now on her bedroom wall. She saved it.

Or they're lined up, the sticky notes. And I had one dad, he said, that's from five months ago and she hasn't taken it down. So dads, your voice, your view of your daughter is going to stick with her and be internalized long after you're gone. And you just hit the A of the father acrostic. Some listeners are like me, they're like, oh, you started an acrostic. You got to finish it. But first, and the A is affirm.

So you're talking about five deposits to one withdrawal. So you're just affirming whether it's writing on the sticky note or speaking, especially speaking it right. And then the T we've talked about quite a bit is talk.

Just talk and draw her out. You've got the book and you've got the questions. The H is humor. What is that? That's why I started with it. Because did you know that neuroscientists confirm that laughter releases chemicals in our brain that strengthen long-term relationships and reinforce social bonding.

The other thing is it releases oxytocin that counters cortisol, which is a stress hormone. So dad, if you've got kind of a bombed out bridge with your daughter, find ways to engage her in things that make her laugh. That's good. The E is engage.

How is that different than what we've already said? It means that you find out what she's interested in and then you do it with her. Even if you're uncomfortable. If she loves baking, you go get in the kitchen where you're the one that doesn't know what you're doing and you let her teach you. But you engage in things that she's interested in. And that's another powerful bonding thing, isn't it?

And I would agree too. Like, I'm just imagining my dad coming to the kitchen if I was a teenager. At first I'd be like, what are you doing? Like, this is weird.

Don't take anything personally what she could say because inwardly she is jumping up and down celebrating that you're engaging with her. Exactly. And finally, we've got the R, which is reach.

What's that mean? Well, again, it's up to you, dad, to reach toward her. Isn't that what God as a father does?

He sent Jesus down to reach into our heart space. And so as you reach out toward her, whether it's physical contact, like we talked about last time, the importance of hugging and finding ways to engage her in safe touch that honors her but is still pursuing her. But really that reaching out, she'll never forget it. And one of my favorite things that my dad's done for at least 30 years is at Christmas, he went to a men's conference once and they said, come up with a way to reach your kids.

What do girls like? They like perfume. So my dad has done this thing every Christmas where usually on about the 23rd or 24th, we go to Nordstrom and have lunch and we sit in the perfume section and I try perfume on up my arms and he helps decide which one I want. And you know how expensive perfume is now.

But all the clerks are like, oh, I wish my dad would do that. But here's the cool thing because I'm telling you the last one I chose, it was not cheap and I almost felt bad. I tend to be extravagant but when I receive, it's harder to take it.

Me too. But inside I was so grateful that my dad would spend the money on me because where his treasure is, there his heart is. So that told me I had his heart because he paid so much money for this perfume. Every time I do things all year long and I put that perfume on, what does it remind me?

Your dad. Yeah, that my dad loves me and invested in me. So there's just another practical way that a dad could reach out to his daughter by taking her on a traditional date. If she's not into perfume, do books. I've had dads go through the aisles of bookstores and buy three books or do a painting project or something that she loves. I'm imagining every woman listening to this that has a daughter is thinking, oh, my husband needs to hear this and I think there's a part of every man if his wife sends it to him, he'll think, see, I'm doing it all wrong again and she's critiquing me again. Coach us just for a minute. For us women, we're so excited about this and maybe our husbands wouldn't necessarily listen.

How can we help them and encourage them even to listen or to get the book? Well, it's called Oreo cookie communication. The top cookie is the positive.

We could only handle so much of that middle stuff, right? And then the bottom is the next cookie is the positive. Positive, negative, positive. So start with the positive. Like you can tell him, I'm so grateful that you're our kid's dad. And yet at the end of the day, you speak Martian, I speak Venusian. I get that our daughter is really hard to reach at this age.

She's 15, she doesn't really wanna be with you. Hey, this woman wrote this book for dads and she's a woman. She says, if it bombs, just blame her. So you can't do it wrong because I've found men wanna do it right.

And they're going, but I don't even know what that looks like. So I'm really allying with that place in men that says I wanna get it right and I don't even know what that looks like. And then I say to dads, you don't have to tell your kids where you got the idea. You get full credit.

That's good, that's good. Well, and you really have spelled it out for us in the book, Let's Talk, conversation starters for dads and daughters. We are making that book available this week to Family Life Today listeners. Those of you who are regular listeners and wanna pitch in to help the ongoing work of this ministry help make Family Life Today possible, not only for yourself, but for your community and for people all around the world.

There are hundreds of thousands of people every day who depend on the practical, biblical help and hope they're receiving from Family Life Today to help them navigate the challenges of marriage and family. You make this program possible for others and for yourself every time you make a donation. We're grateful for those of you who are monthly legacy partners and we're grateful for those of you who will from time to time pick up the phone or go online and make a donation to advance the work of Family Life Today. Again, when you make that donation today, you can request your copy of Michelle Watson Canfield's book, Let's Talk, conversation starters for dads and daughters. Go to to donate or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website for a donation, or you can donate by calling 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. Wanna ask you to be praying for what's gonna be happening this Saturday, our blended and blessed event for couples who are in blended families and step families. Ron Deal gives leadership to that. We've got hundreds of people who have signed up to join us. It's not too late to sign up if you'd like to join either on your own or with a small group or a church group. You can find out more when you go to our website But please pray for this event.

Pray that God would use it in a powerful way in the lives of those who are trying to work out the challenges associated with a blended family and trying to do that in a way that honors the Lord. Again, find out more about blended and blessed 2021 when you go to And be sure to join us again tomorrow when we'll continue talking about how dads can pursue their daughters when the hearts of their daughters build a stronger relationship with their girls. Michelle Watson Canfield's gonna join us again tomorrow.

Hope you can join us as well. I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch. We got some extra help today from Bruce Goff. And of course, our entire broadcast production team is involved. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life of Little Rock, Arkansas. A crew ministry. Help for today. Help for tomorrow.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-28 00:53:06 / 2023-11-28 01:06:30 / 13

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