5 Things Every Daughter Needs to Hear From Her Dad

I’m a father of four beautiful children, three of whom are girls. My oldest daughter is eight years old and with each passing year since her birth, I’ve become more conservative when it comes to all things that pertain to my girls. I’m not a gun enthusiast, but I could be if it meant standing at the porch waiting for the first guy who dares to ask one of my daughters on a date.

Seriously though, I love having daughters. There is something about having a daughter that softens a man, adds a certain tenderness to his soul. In that spirit, I’d like to share five things every daughter needs to hear from her father:

1) You are beautiful and you are loved. This is something you should tell your daughter at least once a day and probably more than that. Telling her once every so often doesn’t cut it. I’m no psychologist, but daughters who know their father loves them grow up with more confidence and tend to avoid looking for love in all the wrong places. Hearing she is beautiful is oxygen for your daughter’s soul. So do it often, in different and creative ways.

2) Your mother is beautiful and she is loved. The best gift you can give your daughter is to show her how a man treats a woman. Let her see modeled in you, however imperfectly, the God-given love between a man and a woman. Tell your wife daily that she is beautiful, that you love her, and that you are glad you married her. Tell her you are committed to her for life. And say these things, periodically, in front of your children.

3) You belong to God and were created for his glory. Girls frequently battles insecurity over a number of issues: their weight, their looks, their friends. Maybe sometimes they feel unimportant or unwanted, even in a home with love. This is why you, as a father, should remind them often that they are special creations formed lovingly by the Creator in His image. You should read with them the words of David, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” from Psalm 139. That passage should be well-worn in your Bible and something internalized by your daughters for moments of doubt.

4) You are forgiven. Your girls will mess up. They will sin. They will disappoint you. And if you don’t have the good news of the gospel at the center of your family, she may grow up wondering how to measure up or what to do with her sins. Evangelize your daughter and then disciple her. Train in her in the vital Christian practice of repentance and forgiveness. Repentance for her sin and forgiveness of others’ sins. Let her know that Christ is always ready with fresh supplies of grace. Let her know that she must apply that grace not only to herself, but toward others who will wound her.

5) You are accepted. Whatever you do, don’t let your daughter consume the poison of the culture which measures a woman’s worth by her independence, by her ability to give away freely her purity. Don’t for a moment let her swallow the lie that sexual license is anything but a bondage of the worst kind, the enemy’s way of stealing the creativity and beauty and purpose for which she was created. Teach her what to look for in a man (hint: not the slackers you see on TV). Also: be that man so she knows what it looks like. Make her aware of the beautiful image of womanhood painted by the Creator. Her acceptance, her sense of self, her worth are bound up in her unique calling as God’s daughter.

*Next week I’ll share a similar list for fathers and their sons.

Daniel Darling is the Vice President for Communications at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He previously served five years as Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church. He is a contributor to Leadership Journal, Homelife, Crosswalk.com, Stand Firm,” and a variety of other evangelical publications. He has written several books, including his latest, Activist Faith.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

36 thoughts on “5 Things Every Daughter Needs to Hear From Her Dad

  1. Daniel I have 3 girls also., 13, 8 and 5. I think your second point is really important. I want to make sure that my kids know their mother is loved even before they know that they are loved. Not only do I tell my wife how much I love her in front of our children. I also often kiss her while the kids are watching. They think it's funny but I also know that they enjoy it.

  2. A while back I really liked a post you wrote about what you’d learned since becoming a father or something similar to that. You were reflecting back. This post kind of leaves me thinking you don’t know yet of what you speak, since your children are still so young. I say that as a mom and now grandma. Raising kids is so hard. Having raised two girls, my husband and I are not so sure of the importance that a girl hears her father tell her over and over that she is “beautiful.” I would love for you to revisit this post when your children are about thirty. I assume that your children will hear plenty of your sermons and a lot of preaching from you as they grow up. Maybe they will benefit just from your listening to them and encouraging their unique God given skills and abilities. Make it a practice to have dinner with them. Laugh with them. Regarding points 4 and 5, be sure to talk to them (and pray with them) as a dad and not as their pastor.

    • You are right in saying that I\’m still green at parenting. I\’m only writing from what I know. However, I\’m going to make a bet that you are wrong about telling my daughters they are beautiful. I\’m gonna tell them that each day and take my chances that this is a good thing to do.

      • I am betting that there are girls who long to hear their dads tell them that they are smart, courageous, athletic, kind or whatever applies. My objection continues to be the apparent singling out of their beauty to tell them over and over. Girls develop insecurities about other things too.

    • After reading this comment I need to reply…I am a 23 year old woman and I would have given anything to hear my father tell me everyday that he thought I was beautiful and that he loved me. He rarely said those words and I grew up believing my dad didn't care about me. And now I watch him destroy any possibility at having a relationship with my younger sisters because he's so uninvolved and uncaring. It IS extremely important that a father speak words of life to his daughter and tell her that she is beautiful and that she is loved. Not doing so can cause serious emotional problems for a young girl.

      Daniel, keep telling your daughters that they are beautiful and that you love them everyday. It WILL make a difference.

    • I think you are wrong. My wife, who is great voice for Jesus but yet has her own insecurities, dwells on the fact that not once in her life did her Dad tell her she was beautiful. He is a strong man, married for 51 years and has always been a follower of Jesus. My wife thinks he is the wisest and smartest man she has ever known. However, that one omission has given her insecurities that you would not believe.

    • I disagree with Louise. I am nearly 29, and my Dad rarely told me I was beautiful. My Mom told me that he thought I was, but he never said so. He also rarely showed affection for my mother. I grew up feeling ugly, unloved, and had a deep need for male affection that I didn't get at home. That translated into dating guys I shouldn't have, and I still have deep-rooted issues relationally from it all, even though I've been married for six years, and out of the house for longer. My sister, who is a few years younger than I, says the same thing. Actually, we've talked many times about how we wish he would have told us we're beautiful. When my sister got married Dad told her she looked beautiful, and it was a painful moment for her because she couldn't remember him ever telling her that. He may have thought it, and apparently did, but didn't tell us.

      I think it is so, so important. And being affectionate is important too, even when your daughter gets to adolescent age and most dads seem to feel uncomfortable with affection at that age.

  3. Thank you for sharing this with us. My wife and I are expecting our first child, a little girl, on June 25th. My prayer is that I'll be the best dad that I can be for her. I'm going to save this list.. it's a good one. Please pray for me as I begin this journey as a parent.

  4. good stuff here.

    regarding point one…telling your daughter(s) she is beautiful is certainly a good thing. however, telling her she is beautiful AND helping her understand what true beauty really is, is an even better thing.

    • that's important: to teach any child what 'true beauty' is, and that the beauty in every human being comes because they are made in the image of God, that they are 'fearfully and wonderfully made'. The shallowness of the other image of beauty we can see in the toddler 'beauty pageants' . . . 'surface' beauty fades (sic transit gloria mundi), but the beauty of heart and soul and spirit are worth mentioning because that kind of beauty is a reflection of Our Creator.

  5. Daniel, thank you for taking the time to write and share this. Points 3, 4 and 5 were particularly encouraging and I pray you and your wife will keep encouraging your children and each other in these massive truths as the years go by. May I just make a suggestion re Point 1 as a believing woman who has a lot of experience with teenage girls? It may be that you put these things to share with your daughters in no particular order but as regards your first point I think one of the biggest challenges growing up as a woman in our culture is to be judged almost entirely on our looks and to therefore base our value on how many people think we are beautiful and who these people are. One solution to that is to do as you suggest and keep telling your daughters daily that they are are beautiful so that, whatever others tell them, they know that they are beautiful to you. This kind of affirmation therefore becomes as you put it the air we breathe, the "oxygen of [ our ]soul".

    The only issue with is surely that Scripture tells us that "beauty is fleeting" (Proverbs 31), subjective (Song of Songs 1v6), and that while we as human beings put great value on outward appearance, "the LORD looks on the heart" (1 Sam 7v7) and values the "true beauty" of a godly spirit (1 Peter 3vv4-5). Rather than bringing up girls who grow up as those for whom being told they're beautiful is "the oxygen of their soul", might it not be more worthwhile to strive to bring up girls for whom the "oxygen of their soul" is progress in knowing God's love (as you detail so well in points 3,4 and 5), loving God and godliness of thought, speech and behaviour? One might argue that the two are not mutually exclusive, that you can constantly tell your daughters they are beautiful whilst encouraging them to grow in godliness and of course you can but the issue is what we are taught to prioritise as we grow up. I sometimes worry that in rightly wanting to affirm girls we affirm them in the wrong things.

    I can see from your post that you are a man who loves Jesus and loves your family and longs to see them grow in love and knowledge of Christ and I pray that that desire will only grow as you see God at work in them. I also have no doubt that your girls are beautiful to you in every way, every day. This is not to say, that we never comment on physical appearance but simply that there is a world of difference between an occasional or even quite frequent "You look lovely" and a daily "You are beautiful." The first has value for being considered but also doesn't make a huge deal of beauty. The second by force of repetition simultaneously loses meaning over time (just something you say) and makes the person's beauty a much bigger deal than it is, an essential part of them that needs constant comment. In addition "you are beautiful" even "you are beautiful to me" especially when coupled with the wonderful "you are loved" may imply (untruthfully) that there is a correlation between the two. Ironically, it can also lead the person hearing it to seek that affirmation elsewhere in more conditional, less healthy places.

    It may be that all you meant when urging men to daily tell their daughters that they are beautiful is that they comment on the beauty which matters to God, if that is the case, many apologies. The thing that girls, boys, all of us need to hear from our parents is the amazing second half of your first point "you are loved", you just are. That's how God has loved us in Christ and that's how as parents we can model God's love to our children. I pray that you and your wife and family would know and delight in and praise our gracious God for that love more and more each day.

    • Matt and RW (and others who've expressed this), you raise good points about affirming "true" beauty as opposed to a worldly definition of beauty which only looks on the outside of things. I understand your concern.

      However, I think in our attempt to teach our girls true beauty, we can be a bit reductionist and make the false case that the ONLY beauty worth affirming is outside beauty. This, I think, would be wrong.

      Beauty, as described in Scripture, is not exclusively a property of something inside, of moral character. In fact, Genesis reminds us that God is the author of beauty, that God beheld (looked at the outside view) of His work and called it good. We also see in Proverbs and in the Song of Songs favorable words of the beauty of a woman.

      Now, to counterbalance, of course, are words from Paul and Peter about being known, as a woman, for more than simply outside beauty.

      My fear is this: a father who never acknowledges his daughter's outer beauty and doesn't make her feel as though her father considers her a beautiful woman created by God is doing two very harmful things: a) He's creating space in her heart that she will fill elsewhere. She will find someone in her life who will affirm her outer beauty and this can lead to her seeking this in relationships that will harm her. And it will possibly cause her to think that her Heavenly Father may not consider her beautiful either. b) He will also be inevitably giving her incomplete theology–a sort of asceticism that ignores art, beauty, and grace in the world God has created.

      Lastly, when a father tells his daughter she is beautiful, regardless of where she measures up on the cultural beauty spectrum, he is indirectly affirming a biblical concept that it is God who sets the standard for beauty, not Hollywood.

    • You know…as I read this it saddens me. I believe, although I might be wrong to assume Daniel's perspective but as a woman who was never affirmed from any man let alone any man who claimed to be dad….being called beautiful isn't about looks! It is about us as parents being emissaries for God. Delivering His message to those He entrusted in our care. When He created man and woman He, Himself said , "It is good…" I see God telling us so often in His word that we are things of beauty to Him, His creations, children, created in HIS image…there is absolutely every reason to tell your children they are beautiful. They need a point of reference to come back to when the world kicks in their teeth, a place of knowing that no matter what anyone else says or does, they have someone who loves them and sees only the best they have to offer. I can not begin to tell you how that affirmation can change a person's confidence in trusting God, and those around us He entrusts us with. If I say to my daughter "you are beautiful" it is like reminding the believer Psalm 139. Is that also to be considered vain? To know that we were created to represent a King to those around us could make us seem arrogant and pompass….but is it what is interpreted or what is truly meant. We destroy what God intended for good when we applies laws and rules to it. That is what the enemy wants. The law brought death, Christ brought liberty. Satan has tried to destroy the true meaning of beauty and turn it into a repulsive thing on this earth. It is our job to see God's standard and teach our children how to use it in the generations to come. We can't afford to let one more thing become distorted in regards to our love of God. So many consider themselves Christians, yet have no idea of what that truly means. So many thought Jesus would come and destroy Rome to deliver His people from the wickedness on the earth. There tainted perception of reality cost them the blessing of an eternity basking in the presence of true beauty. Our children need to know they had everything they need to fulfill God's purpose,at the moment they were conceived. You need to learn more of the side of God that is about telling us we are beautiful. Look in scripture…. He offers us rewards for doing what He wants…today, most parents shun that behavior and call it bribery…but is it really? Is it not in fact doing as we see our Father in heaven doing?If not us, who…If not in love, how…if not daily, when? Daniel, keep up the good fight! I am not a father, but being a mother who had no affirmation, learning solely from His Holy Spirit, I will tell my children many times a day, "You are beautiful, You are loved, You have what it takes to do God's will, You are princes and princesses being groomed to become Kings and Queens….and there isn't a person on the planet that truly thinks that is an ugly station…oh to be perfected in His presence to finally behold what beauty really looks like…but until then…I will see my children as I know He sees me, through His Son's blood, shed for me, a thing of BEAUTY! Don't let the enemy of our souls entangle you with Scriptures he has had centuries to perfectly distort and misrepresent. Allow the Holy Spirit to bathe you in the abundant, rich, luxurious, intoxicating, and overwhelming love only He can give! May He wash over you, over and over again! :) THAT is a true thing of beauty! :)

  6. Pastor Daniel, loved your article Five Things Every Daughter Needs to Hear From Her Dad. You mentioned that the following week you would say something every son needs to hear from his Dad.
    I shared your article with my email friends. We are looking forward to your follow-up on (Sons and Dads). Found your website quite by accident, we are blessed to have you on our PC's.

  7. I made it a point, and still do even though they are adults, to let my girls know that they are worthy of great things. Society is not female friendly and it is so important for young women to know that they have worth. That they can be anything they want to be if they work hard enough at attaining it. I never focused on outward beauty but tell them how intelligent they are. What good, kind, caring hearts they have. Beauty is skin deep and if there is not beauty inside then you have a hollow shell. Girls are not easy creatures to raise especially when they hit age 12-13 but if they know that in your eyes they are amazing and that you will accept them even when they stumble and fall. That you will forgive them when they make mistakes, yes they will make mistakes, chances are good they will turn out to be contributing and loving members of society.

  8. Great post. Great Blog. I'm going to snoop around your posts for a bit.

    Question: What's with the number 5?

  9. As a Mother of 4 daughters, I think this list is very important – not just as a positive reinforcement of Godly principles, but to combat the very negative messages our daughter receive so often in this world. It seems to take 10 "you are beautiful"s to counteract one "you have a funny nose". And probably 50 "you are accepted"s to overcome one "no, you can't sit here". We internalize those negative comments and repeat them to ourselves ad nauseum.

    And then there are the constant visual messages – huge pictures of impossibly photoshopped models with hardly any clothing. I officially hate going to the mall with my children, or driving down the highway. In those cases, no one has to even tell you that you don't measure up – it's obvious. Being intentional with our loving comments and supporting them with loving action give girls alternate messages to internalize – and that is so desperately needed to help them navigate the rough waters of this life.

  10. Pastor, ( or others)
    Great write up, and interesting discussion. I'd like to ask about point #2.
    How would advise a man who is divorced to handle this without confusing his young daughters.
    I know divorce isn't a part of God's plan… But it happens too often

  11. Good article! As (By God Grace) the husband of the same women for 33 years (all in a row!) and as the daddy of 4 daughters and 5 boys I can tell you that it ain't easy raising either. But what a blessing each and every one of them are! All have their differences and that a good thing. How boring it would be if they were all like me! Young parents, just make sure you show love! My wife and I balanced each other as she was love and I was discipline. I would be more love if I could do it all over again. And as this young pastor said, always show the kids’ mother you love her! And young mothers, make it easy for your husbands to love you. Make your home one he can't wait to come to after a day at work. I'm going to try for 5 things to writeabout next time! God Bless You!

  12. I've read this article and the article on 5 things to say to our sons and I find them very sexist at the bottom line though I wouldn't say the advice provided isn't useful. However, Daniel can you provide us with Bible justification of the strong differences to be marked in raising girls and boys? Maybe, after all, your views (which as I said I find sexist) are biblical ones (I am not making any irony – I am sincere).

      • I do agree that boys are different from girls but what real difference in them warrants boys to be told (just an example) 4) Hard Work is a Gift, Not a Curse. and girls 4) you are forgiven. Isn't that based on some peculiar point of view of what boys and girls are (or should be) ? Except for point 2) Your mother is beautiful and is loved (though I would suppress beautiful) which would be specific to girls, I do not see why all the others wouldn't apply to both girls and boys. (and this is where I find both articles useful). And again are there Bible justification to adopting different focuses for girls and boys?

        • There\’s no agenda here. I wrote from my gut, things I think boys most need and what I believe girls most need. Doesn\’t mean girls don\’t need to hear about hard work and guys don\’t need to hear about being forgiven. Of course they both need to hear both. But I think boys and girls generally have different needs. That\’s all. It\’s not an exhaustive list. There are better lists.

  13. I would add that a girl needs to know she's protected; that she is worth fighting for. I don't think that "manly men"- the ones who "hunt and drive trucks" as described in the more recent "5 Things Every Son Needs to Hear from His Dad" article ought to be chastised for their masculine zeal. Instead, I think that men need to get back in touch with the things that make them men (courage, honor, and self-sacrifice) and then be taught how to use those things for the glory of God. Just because a man is "manly”, doesn't make him a dirt bag. It's all about how you live your life: do you live it for others; and most importantly- do you live it for God, or do you merely live it for yourself and your own satisfaction? This coming from a 23 year-old single women who would personally like to see a resurgence of genuine masculine qualities in our flailing culture- so we women aren't left picking up the slack, which so many of us do out of mere duty.

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