Mike Berry is a guy who knows what to say to women—especially his daughters.
At 14 years old, my daughter still spins and sways through our house like a princess. She’s been dancing and singing since she could walk and talk. While she’s graduated from Barbie Dolls and Disney Princesses, to grown up things, like make-up and social media, I still see the reflection of the little girl she once was, and still is.
Unfortunately, she’s learning how cold the world can be. How misunderstanding and even abrupt society has become. I’m often in the role of tear-catcher or shoulder-provider when her heart has been broken. Lately, I’ve become keenly aware of how powerful my words to her are, and how critical it is that I say uplifting words to her every day! I once heard a therapist say, “For every demeaning or destructive word a human being utters, they must say a thousand uplifting words to make up for it.”
That’s a lot of words.
What we often fail to realize is that every syllable of every word we speak to our children is either a deposit or a withdrawal in the bank account of their hearts. This has never been more true than with a daddy and his little girls. There’s a special relationship that exists. Our words have the distinct ability to build our daughters up, or tear them down. In full transparency, I’ve done both. It’s a regret that I wish I could go back in time and erase.
Through it all, however, I’ve learned the importance of three simple statements, and how deep they travel into the hearts of my daughters:
- You’re beautiful. I live in a town in Central Indiana with a lot of people. It seems our once farm community doubles in size every single day. The evidence is at the grocery store. There are so many people there all the time. It means I’m often left standing in the checkout line for minutes upon minutes. While I do so, feeling bored and frustrated, it never fails that my eyes scan the magazine racks strategically placed by the conveyer belt. And there I see it. One of the biggest reasons our daughters struggle with low self-image, identity issues, and more. An image splashed across the glossy cover. A perfect-looking model. A girl their age with perfect-looking skin, pearly white teeth, and the perfect trendy outfit. Our daughters are constantly sizing themselves up. It’s a vicious comparison trap. Not only does this happen at the hands of magazine covers, but also social media, television and the movies. And they’re all saying the same thing to our little girls … “You’re not this pretty!” So for us (as men, in particular) to cup our baby’s faces in our hands, look them in their eye, every day, and say, “You’re beautiful,” is a game-changer in the fierce identity battle they’re locked in.
- I love you no matter what. Grace is a beautiful thing. Without a second chance, and a third chance, heck, even a billionth chance, I never would have lived almost 40 years of life. Grace is something we all need as human beings because we’re an imperfect species. But far too often, our daughters don’t think they are worthy of it. The person they see looking back at them in the mirror says one thing, “You’re a failure.” It’s simply not true. As they compare themselves to an airbrushed society, they need to hear they are loved through the chaos and confusion of this world. In fact, we all do. Sometimes the drive to perfection causes us to choose relationships, possessions or beliefs that defy their humanity. While we cup their faces and tell them how beautiful they are, we must also express our love, in spite of failures or shortcomings.
- You have purpose. Last night my wife and I watched the movie Joy. It was everything it was billed to be. Inspiring, motivating, and moving. I couldn’t help but be irked by Joy’s father. While he expressed belief in her, he often failed to look at her, and just tell her that. It was always clouded over by a “Yeah, but.” Joy’s grandmother, Mimi, was the one who kept telling her “You have meaning. You’re going to make it.” In my mind I so wanted her father to say that and nothing else. The reason? For a father to express to his daughter that she has purpose, with no hidden agenda, or no “Yeah, buts,” builds an Eiffel Tower of confidence in her soul. Before you take your hands away from her precious face, fathers, tell her how much meaning she has in this world.
Fathers, (even mothers), fellow humans … we are just that, human. We screw up. We make mistakes. It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. But when it does, how will you respond? Will you fail forward or backward. Will you do everything in your power to make it right, say the words that build up and encourage, or do nothing … say nothing?
This choice makes all the difference. Our little girls are waiting to hear and feel words from you that tell them they’re worthy, beautiful, and loved regardless of choices, or failures. You are filling up the bank account of their heart every time you express this.
What are you waiting for?
Photo—Rawle C. Jackman/Flickr