Guest post: What makes a dad a father (from a daughter’s perspective)

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc
photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

Here’s the first guest post on Coach Daddy – from Erica Stewart, formerly of Modern Parent Online, and now mom behind the blog DevinandErica, which serves to find order in the world of parenting, even as dads like me are kicking up the dust and tickling the kids at bedtime. Be sure to check her out!


When you sit back and think about your dad, my question to you all is, “what makes your dad a father?” I’m sure that at some point, you have come across one of those Facebook posters with a saying such as “anyone can be a dad, but it takes a true man to be a father.” I posed the question on our fan page on Facebook, DevinandErica, but only had one response from Nicki Webster-Schreiber: “I always believed a father was a protector. One who builds you a fort, kills the spiders and scares the monsters away. I never had a father around but my best friends dad always did those things for us.”

When reflecting back into my own childhood, my father did all those things as well for my brother and I. However, most of my precious memories of my father are those from when I was a teenager. One of the best gifts that my father taught me was that unless I was in immediate danger, he allowed me to make mistakes and was there to catch me when I fell. He would tell me if he thought whatever I was doing was a mistake, but would allow me to make the mistake if I was dead set on doing whatever it was (this included dating – oh the horrors that went through his mind I’m sure… Haha).

Then fast forward a bit to the mid-1990’s when the movie, Father of the Bride, was released. Steve Martin’s character stated something within the movie that I always believed to be true with my own father: “While watching your teenage daughter grow up, as a father you always fear of her meeting and the wrong guy. Then there comes a point when you no longer have that fear, but the fear of her meeting the right guy.”

When thinking of that thought posed within the movie, I wonder how my husband will react later in life when our daughter brings home her first boyfriend; or when she talks about marrying her first love. I’m not going to lie, when I think of these things that will happen in just over ten years I get a chuckle. I have no clue as to how he’ll react, but I know that I’ll be there to let him know that all will turn out the way it is supposed to.

But the questions in between are what is a dad supposed to do until his daughter reaches teenage years? My advice: Allow those girls to be tom-boys if they want. Play softball? Sure. You want to play soccer? Why not? Karate? Absolutely (what father doesn’t want his daughter to know how to defend herself). Also remind yourself that you are raising a future woman. Don’t criticize decisions that she wants to make; instead allow her to make them. Be there to catch her when she falls. This may be hard, especially during the teenage years but it is something that is an absolute must. You can’t expect her to have trust in you later in life if you never instilled trust in her to make her own choices, good or bad.

photo credit: Andrew Morrell Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: Andrew Morrell Photography via photopin cc

At the end of it all, once she is off at college or married with her own children she hopefully will be able to reflect back on her own life and the cherished memories between herself and you with the same thoughts that I currently have. I’m not saying that my father is perfect, but that’s okay – neither am I. Who wants perfection anyway? Without the bumps in the road you wouldn’t have anything to look back on and laugh at yourself about. Mistakes make us and one another who we are. Without them we would all be Hollywood movies and – – – BORING! =)


Erica currently is trying to find ‘normal’ in a world of ‘abnormal’ raising a 2 1/2 year old toddler and a newborn on his way. Although this may seem typical for most parents, Erica does not have any family or close friends around and is trying to build her ‘family’ from neighbors and others that she meets along the way. Follow her journey here.


  1. I think you touched on something really important here. Dads are responsible for their daughter’s abilities to trust their own judgement and to learn what it means to be respected by the opposite sex. Very important for healthy relationships later in life. Good post 🙂

    1. You’re right. I think we dads are inclined to want to be more hands on about the actual decisions, but our part comes way before she starts interacting with boys, really. Whether we’re ready for it or open to it, she’s looking to me for what she should be looking for in him. Whew. That’s more responsibility than avoiding red No. 5 or stopping practice because of lightning. Those are choices; the example we set for our daughters is constant and involuntary.

  2. Les says:

    You’re so right Erica. I did love your younger years, remember the time I gave you the grapes after your T-ball game? And yes, there was a certain chap that your mom and I could not figure out, but you met him dated him and (thank God) dumped him. Now you turned into a beautiful woman, wife and mother.
    You know that we could never wish for a daughter that could be better than you, and a brother better than Steven who has a wonderful family too.
    We know that Devin loves you and Olivia very much, and will be more in love with his family when Lucas is born.
    Thanks for the beautiful words.
    Love and miss you very much, Diddy

  3. queenofchaosmom says:

    I am a “Daddy’s Girl” through and through. My dad worked hard and sacrificed a lot so that my mom could stay home with us. I did what a lot of women do and I married someone exactly (or almost exactly) like him. My dad still remains one of my favorite people and is the most reliable person in my life. I would be lost without him. Isabella is a huge “Daddy’s Girl” and I think it is sweet how much she loves Leo. It’s exactly what you said, Eli…she’s looking to him to see what to be looking for. Erica, love that last part about mistakes. That’s a great way to look at it!

    1. Every time I imagine my girls looking for someone like me, I get all at once very proud and very scared.

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