Last week on the Emmys, actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus gave a very touching acceptance speech. In it she revealed that her father had just passed away two days before.
As she cried, she ended her speech with this sentence about him: “I’m so glad he liked me because his opinion was the one that really mattered.”
Fathers, I cannot stress enough the importance you have in your child’s life. Yours is the opinion that really matters. An actress can stand in front of an adoring TV audience of millions, and what does she care about? That her father, one man in a crowd of millions, liked her.
I have no doubt that Julia Louis-Dreyfus owes her success in life to having a supportive father. Dads, your daughters are always looking for clues about how you feel about them. It is crucial that you like your daughters and let them know it. Because how you feel about them determines how they feel about themselves.
When you get home from work, she is waiting to see what type of mood you’re in. When she walks into a room, she is looking for your face. If you smile, she registers that as, “Dad likes me. He thinks I’m great. Therefore, I am great.” This gives them the confidence to succeed in life.
Truth be told, sometimes liking your own child is difficult (especially during their teenage years). You don’t have to like everything she is doing or how she is acting in this very moment. You need to like who she is.
You do this by focusing on your daughter’s character. Not her actions, grades, achievements or looks, but who she is deep down, what kind of person you see her becoming. Compliment her character and be specific. Is she loving? Strong? Kind? Tell her those things and encourage her to grow in them. Praising your daughter’s character specifically will give her the sense that you not only love her–you like her.
As a physician, I like to ask the kids who come through my practice this question: “Who loves you?” It’s amazing how many of them say something like, “I guess my dad loves me, but that’s because he has to.”
Your daughter thinks you have to love her, but she knows you don’t have to like her. If your daughter is convinced you like her, she’ll want to connect with you, and as she connects with you, her confidence and self-esteem will skyrocket. She will be set up for success in life simply by knowing you approve of who she is.
Make sure she knows you like her. Let there be no question in her mind. Because in the end, your opinion is the one that really matters.