Dear girl friends of my daughters,
I feel like I need to explain something to you. Hopefully you know that I love my daughters very much. Since you are her friend, you should know that my love for her is so strong that it spills over onto the people she loves, too. You are not mine, but I love you anyway. It is one of those things that has most surprised me about being a father. I always knew that I would love my girls no matter what. From the moment they were born, I knew that I would do anything to keep them safe, warm, protected, happy, and loved.
What I did not expect is just how much I would love their friends as well. I love it when you come over. I love watching you girls sit on the couch together and watch movies. I love hearing you singing the newest pop hit. I love hearing you giggle about boys and crushes. I love watching your dance parties and choreography.
I’ve long said, “If I love you, I feed you.” That’s why I love taking you out to dinner or making you smoothies. I love it when you sleep over and all pile in the big bed in the spare room. I love making pancakes for you all in the morning. You’re not a nuisance. You’re not too loud. You’re never annoying. There is no more beautiful noise than my daughters laughing with their friends. You’re actually providing me a beautiful gift when you come over. Thank you.
I will always give you a hug if you want it. I won’t put my arms out to you, or tell you “Give me a hug,” because I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable. I don’t ever want you to feel compelled to give me a hug, but if you put out your arms, it makes me very happy. I am an affectionate person. I love to give hugs, but consent is always my top priority. I want you to know that I’m always here for a hug, but only if you want. And if you don’t want to, I get it.
I will always give you a roof if you need it. I know sometimes you are going to go through difficult times with your own parents. If you have an unhealthy relationship at home, reconciliation with your family is always preferred, but my home will always be a safe place for you. This is especially true if you are rejected by your family for your sexuality or if you are gender non-conforming. I don’t want you to ever feel unsafe in your own home. If there is ever abuse in your home, physical or emotional, consider me your safe haven. I will listen to you. I will believe you. I will do what I can to protect you and keep you safe. If you are ever forced out – even if it is because you screwed up – we have an extra room for you.
I think you are absolutely beautiful, right now, just as you are. But I am much more likely to ask you about school, or your favorite book, or you softball team than I am going to tell you look pretty, or complement your hair or your outfit. I think you are beautiful, but I also think our culture puts way too much onto girls about how they look. You are so much more than your looks. Please don’t believe anyone that tells you that you are not beautiful. If I hear you insult yourself, I will intervene. If I hear you belittle your own body, looks, or anything physical about you, I will remind you that you are beautiful. I doubt it will matter much to you what I think, but I will not let self-deprecation go unchallenged. And it may not seem like a big deal, but it hurts me when I see you scratch out your face on Snapchat. The world is better when you are smiling, don’t blot that out.
I believe in you. I believe in your heart, your mind, your abilities, and your compassion. You don’t need a boy to define you. You are valuable, worthy of love, and worthy of affection. That is true whether or not a boy likes you. It is true whether you are single or in a relationship. If you find a boy (or girl) you love, I’ll be happy for you, but you are so much more than what you can offer to a boyfriend. You have a strong mind and an imagination. You have skills, talents and passions. I want to know about them. I want to hear about what you care about. Any boy that says he “likes you” should want to also. Please don’t ever mistake jealousy for love. Jealousy comes from fear and insecurity. Love should strengthen and uplift you, not hold you back. As you get older, you will have more intimate and powerful relationships. Always remember that consent is everything. Don’t let anyone dim your light. And if you are ever in a situation where you feel abused or in danger, I will help.
I will always have my daughters’ back, but I won’t allow her to be mean to you. If you and she get in a fight, I will tell her if I think she is wrong. If you hurt her, I will always be on her side, but I won’t stop caring about you. I have a forgiving heart. My love for you started with her, but it doesn’t end with her. Even if you and she just slowly drift apart, know that I will always have the light on for you. If you come back into her life, I will be there happy to welcome you back, too.
These are all things I hope my daughters know, but I want you to know it too. If you have a great relationships with your Dad, that is awesome. If you don’t, I know that I will never be your Dad, but I am, and always will be, a #GirlDad, so I’ve got your back too.