Being a parent may not be as challenging on the father side of parenthood as it is on the mother side of parenthood, but it can be. When it comes to parenting a daughter, it should be. Being a daughter's father in a special bonding relationship begins with an emotionally difficult decision.
A daughter must be able to tell her Dad anything. It may be the hardest part of fatherhood. But her father must be the one man she can trust with anything. Her father must be the one man she can always tell the truth and still feel safe with him.
When a father accepts the position that his daughter must be able to tell him anything--whether she is still a child or when she becomes an adult--that is not the hardest part. What a daughter chooses to tell her father must always be her decision. What she chooses to not tell him must always be her decision, too. There is nothing we can demand to hear. There is nothing we can refuse to hear--even when we would rather not. A father has to be a daughter's safe emotional refuge.
But there is another side to fatherhood and the emotional bond that binds father and daughter. A father must also be able to tell his daughter "No", when it it appropriate and critical that he must do so.
While everything a daughter chooses to tell her father must be acceptable for him to hear, everything she does may not be acceptable to him. Everything she plans to do may not be acceptable to him. The reasons are simple, everything she does or plans to do may not be in her best interest. And sometimes emotions--emotional thinking, and emotional needs-- may be the driving force in her decision.
The easiset part of saying "No" can often comes in the form of fatherly advice which she can hear and not be automatically opposed to because of the relationship she has with her father. Sometimes, however, a father's "No" has to be a definitive "No".
If your daughter's name is Megan or Joan, for example, you must be able to say, "No, Megan!" or "No, Joan!" and mean it. It may be the one thing she needs to hear in the one, second, or third time in her life she needs to hear it.
And while the moment you say "No", may be tough on both of you, she can hear it and accept it not because she fears you, but because she respects you. More importantly, where applicable, it becomes more tenable and more rational for her on critical issues if you can follow it with: "That's not what we do" or "That's not who we are."
And of the many thanks your daughter may offer you, the one you will always cherish is when she says "I love you, Daddy". But the one you will cherish the most is "I love you, Daddy. Thanks for always being there for me."