Here’s one way Miguel enjoyed watching his daughter get active. “I was putting some flooring in, and my 3-year-old wanted to be with me. The big 16-ounce hammer was too much for her, so she went into the house and got her mother’s 7-ounce hammer and came out and sat there next to me, pounding on a nail forever. Every so often I would reach over and hit it a little bit. But she’d keep pounding. And she was putting little dimples in the floor all over the place. I’m a perfectionist, so ordinarily that should affect me. But I was getting a kick out of it, watching her. I’ll bet she was 20 minutes doing it while I was putting down some other boards. And finally she turned to me and said, ‘Dad. I hit it 600 times, and it still didn’t go in.’ She probably had kept count, knowing her. She’s very persistent and very articulate.”
Our daughter’s age and abilities don’t have to be barriers to enjoying physical activity, unless we hold her to some outside measure of performance—always a temptation. Remember that girls are continually being measured by someone else’s standards in this culture. The wonder of physical activity lies in its potential to teach girls how to measure themselves by their own standards. We fathers should keep our competitive instincts in check so that our girls will learn that important lesson, rather than learning that they’re failing to measure up to our expectations.
And let’s not forget the physical expression of affection. A father or stepfather who hugs and cuddles his daughter is letting her know how special she is, how much he loves her, and how precious their dad-daughter bond is.
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