In reading an article for student teachers by educator Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld, I found some concepts that fathers and stepfathers can benefit from remembering.
In describing how one teacher establishes a second family with the children in her classroom, Chenfeld observes:
This is not a once-a-month, set-aside time slot; it’s the air they breathe and everything they do. Children are acutely alert to hypocrisy. They know when their teachers speak empty words. Lip service is disservice! They learn those lessons well.
Unless one believes it deeply and demonstrates that belief in everything he or she does (from the smallest acts to the largest), even a stellar concept like family will be another act of betrayal.
The way through these often grim times is through dedication and commitment, courage, persistence and fierce optimism.
I wrote a whole book dedicated to specific activities that fathers can do with their daughters (The Dads & Daughters Togetherness Guide: 54 Fun Activities to Help Build a Great Relationship). But doing those activities without tapping into a larger context is ultimately pointless.
That’s where Chenfield’s perspective applies so profoundly for a Dad trying to build connection with his child. Scheduled or intentional activity alone will not strengthen the father-child bond.
We have to participate in those activities fully, believing deeply that connection with our child is crucial for her and for us—and then demonstrating that belief in everything we do.