I was getting my nearly three year old daughter dressed in the morning. She had picked out a particularly fetching combination (to her eyes) of a purple top, funky mismatch tights and what can only be described as a tutu skirt that she finished off with her bright yellow Doc Martens. Having put the outfit on she stood up somewhat haughtily, brushed her hair out of her eyes and announced, “Meri is very pretty!”
Now, I am not a fan of hubris and boastful behaviour so I pulled her up on it. “Who told you that?” I asked, hoping my challenge would cause her to rethink her pride.
“Daddy!” she said bursting into a big smile and launching herself at me for a hug.
I’m afraid to say that she had me bang to rights. After a moment’s reflection I figured that I probably tell her how lovely I think she is at least twice a day.
I shrugged my shoulders- every father is besotted with their little girl and thinks she is the most beautiful creature in all of creation. However, secretly, I know that everyone else is wrong.
Anecdotally, we all know the importance of the father-daughter relationship but there is more and more research into how important dads are in building their daughters’ confidence and self-esteem. A large part of her self worth will come from how I treat her .We model the behaviour that our little girls will look for in men in the future. In everything from how we treat their mother to how we drive the car, we are influencing our daughters’ world view and psyche. Meri is just at that age when I can start to see the importance of that relationship being played back to me.
Yesterday morning, it was my turn. Unusually for me these days I had a meeting that required me to wear a suit as opposed to my more usual scarecrow attire. As I slapped on some aftershave moisturiser, put on a pressed shirt and a dark grey suit, Meri stood watching me transfixed by the metamorphosis she was witnessing in front of her.
She cocked her head and smiled, “Daddy is very pretty now,” she said, “Like the Smartest Giant in Town,” referring to one of her favourite Julia Donaldson books.
I grew a couple of inches with pride. It seems that little girls can do wonders for their fathers’ self-esteem too.