The purpose of the Distant Dad Project is to provide hope and inspiration to men that want a more connected relationship with their daughters.

I Waited 46 Years for the First 'I Love You' From My Dad, Then This Happened

Dad's I know it is tough trying to figure out the female mind. As a mom, it is hard for us too when it comes to our daughters. You are not alone.

From little up to adulthood, our daughters are constantly changing and just as we get caught up to them they are on a completely new page and once again we are left to figure out what they want and what they need. Sometimes it is the hardest just to make them happy. Well no matter the mood of the moment just be a good listener. Let them know you are there. Many times, it is best to just listen and say little because as they become teens they are really trying to figure it all out. They think they have all the answers. It is good to let them try and sometimes they fail and that is ok. That is how we learn to be strong, problem solve and grow.

Now I know certain subjects seem to be taboo like sex, menstruation etc., but in my house, nothing is a bad subject and even my boys learn a few things, which if you think about it, it is better to know things then to question them later and get the wrong information. It is ok to school yourselves on a wide range of things and when your daughters are struggling a simple phrase like "I may be able to help" goes a long way. Yes, she may roll her eyes, tell you that because you are a man you don't know, but truth be told, it is all embarrassment and shock that you even asked let alone could provide any insight. You know what's going on. After all you assisted in creating her did you not?

It is ok as a man, to have a spa day with your daughters. Getting a pedi or mani will not take away your manhood and it may be the very thing to get you two talking and creating that bond. Besides, girls love to be pampered from little up. It is ok to tag along for that prom gown and provide positive feedback. If another guy calls you corny, tell him to get over it, she is your daughter and you're not missing out on her life. And when your baby girls bring home the "love" of their lives, do not judge, but do size him up and the time for questions can come if he survives past the first week. When you do not make a big papa bear stance you would be surprised how your daughters will suddenly choose on their own who is right for them and who has to go. Pick your battles wisely, not everything is worth the stress.

Speak positively about her mother if you have to say anything at all. It puts your daughter at ease and she will be able to speak freely with you about her life, all of it including mom. Always open the door to communicate. If every time you see her your first interaction is always, ‘how was your day’, she will come to expect that and you will begin to receive responses. Tell her she is beautiful and how much you love her even if you are not that type of guy. I waited 46 years for the first ‘I love you’ from my father and let me tell you it hit me hard, we have never had that type of relationship. To this day, that one time still makes me feel wonderful. I don't hate him. He was extremely hard on me growing up and for a while I placed all my failings on him, but at some point I came to the realization that it all was for my own good. He made me the strong mother and wife I am today, not my mother who worked very hard herself and was a good mom. I always knew he loved me inside, I just wanted to hear it, even just once. Because of him I have made it this far, through all the bad and cherished every little good thing. You guys can do this.

At some point, you loved her mother or still do and she is a part of her and you. Give your daughters the love and respect you expect others to give to her. If you are a long-distance dad, drop her a sweet card with a simple ‘I love you and miss you’ attached for no reason at all. Just because you are thinking of her. You will never get the milestone moments back so even if you and her mom can't get along, be there, for your daughter, wear a proud smile, say positive things or nothing at all and remember it may only be for an hour or two but that memory you just created is going to last a lifetime. You are there for your daughter, no one else but her and it is about her.

Be the best dad and set an example for her how things should be. It is hard, there is no sugar coating that one, but you can all do it and after a few times it will come so easy. I have been in a room of over 100 people, everyone there hated me but my child. Let me tell you the desire to be small and invisible was great but I stayed, was respectful even to those who had very nasty things to say in my presence and kept reminding myself why I was there. To this day 17 years later my child still remembers me being there, has photos that are favorites with me in them and I think somewhere inside realizes how hard that day was for me. You as fathers have just as much right to be there as anyone else does, it is all in how you act and react and carry yourselves that makes the difference. I tell my hubby sometimes you have to humble yourself and eat crow to be able to walk past the angry crowd and out the door to smile again and feel right.  Self-control and kindness go a long way even when someone may not deserve it.

Just love your daughters, be honest, provide a safe place for them and always let them know they can reach you for whatever reason, whatever time and where ever you may be. If you do not understand something ask her to clarify it for you. Be kind, don't judge and accept mistakes that can be turned into lessons learned. And it always happens, your child screams ‘I hate you’, it stings, but you know what that moment is over and in your heart and hers there is nothing but love. Shake it off and go forward. Most of us with kids experience this and we have all survived.

If you can dream it you can make it happen and actions always speak louder than words, so get to talking to your daughters. What is their favorite color, car, thing to eat? What are their hopes and dreams? What does she want to be when she grows up? How can you help her to achieve those goals and dreams? The only bad question is the one that goes unanswered because you never asked. If you are not with the mom get on her school’s contact list. So many events happen and you can and should try to be part of them, at least a few. First day of school, always a biggie. Parents day, sporting events, did you know you can even sign up to be cookie dad for girl scouts? You sure can. PTO's are always looking for involved parents. Meet the friends and parents, grab some pizza and be part of what is going on. Good luck to all of you, you got this. ~ Mother of 5 (Wisconsin)

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