Better Dads and Vancouver Courageous Dad (CVD) partnered to host the 1st Annual Father-Daughter Conference this past weekend in Portland, OR. This event was for girls age 12 and older and their fathers. The program was based loosely on my book, That’s My Girl: How a Father’s Love Protects and Empowers His Daughter. The purpose was to either bring dads and their daughters closer together or to heal broken relationships. A total of six sessions were held both together and individually with dads and daughters separately.
The event was a fantastic success! Several dozen father-daughter couples attended the event. The smaller numbers made for a very intimate and unique event. The huge need for this kind of event was evidenced by the fact that people attended from as far away as Atlanta GA, as well as Seattle, the Oregon coast, eastern Oregon, and central Washington. We have also had inquiries about bringing this event to venues such as Canada, Chicago, and eastern and central Washington.
Numerous fathers came up to me throughout the day and said things like, “You have no idea how much we needed this” or “You don’t even know how good the timing was for this.” Um, actually I do. God’s timing is always perfect. A number of fathers attended with their adult daughters who have yearned for reconciliation with their dads for decades. Several girls had also emailed me in advance asking for prayers because they so yearned to get the love from their fathers they craved.
Just a few of the highlights included a brave young woman named Brianna from Shared Hope International who was rescued from sex-traffickers (four years later she still has to be accompanied everywhere she speaks for protection). Her story was powerful and extremely relevant to both fathers and daughters.
An early morning session had the teen girls and adult women look at themselves in a mirror and anonymously write down what they saw. Most reported descriptions like: fat, ugly, worthless, unlovable, disgusting, wrinkles, etc. (those comments were shared later anonymously to their fathers). While that was happening the dads wrote notes to their daughters telling them some things they love about their daughters but have never been able to share before. The dads then shared those cards with their daughters later at lunch. (One man had brought his niece who he had taken into protective custody to raise. While the other dads were writing notes to their daughters, he quietly pulled me aside and asked what he should write to her. I told him to tell her things like: “You are worthy of healthy love from a man. I promise I will always protect you and provide for you to the best of my ability. I love you like a daughter.” He walked away satisfied and I saw him and his niece in animated discussions the rest of the day. Many tears and hugs were observed taking place at lunch.
After spending the day breaking down barriers between fathers and daughters as well as getting the dads to lower the guards over their hearts so they could be more vulnerable, the climax of the event was a Father Blessing. After a few words, I modeled for the men a ‘Father’s Blessing’ of their daughter. My daughter, Kelsey, sat in a chair on stage and while I knelt in front of her I proclaimed my blessing over her (stupid eyes wouldn’t stop watering). Some of the blessings included:
- You are beautiful just the way you are.
- You look just like a young woman is supposed to look.
- You look just like God designed women to look.
- God created you special and unique.
- You are brilliant, smart and intelligent.
- I love what a good person you are on the inside.
- I love you and I’m so proud of you.
- You can never do anything that will stop me from loving you.
- I will always be your dad—I will always be here for you.
- God has a plan for your life.
- You are worthy of love and I promise to always love you unconditionally.
I gave her a single rose and she tearfully accepted my blessing and hugged me. I then stood and told the men it was their turn. A stunned silence followed. After a pregnant pause another quick bark immediately motivated them to get on their knees and began to bless their daughters. From stage I could see many of the young girls and women crying (some even holding their hands over their faces and sobbing) as their dad spoke words into their hearts they may never had heard before. Many then flew into their dad’s arms and buried their faces in his shoulder. It was a wonderful time of healing and bringing together relationships that had been strained or broken. The volunteers (including the guys) and even the musician were teary-eyed after the event. A few participant comments included:
“I had a wonderful time at the conference with my dad. It was truly a life changing day and helped our relationship immensely. Thank you for your words and how you and your team moved my dad’s heart and mine.”
“My dad gave me 100% attention. That is something I don’t usually have because of siblings.”
“Thank you Rick. It was an amazing time. A lot of tears and was great getting to know my dad. Can’t make up for lost time but can start to make new positive memories.”
“Hera ya on the Father Blessing!!! It was highly emotional for both my daughter and I. It was a great experience!”
“It exceeded my expectations. It was another way that I was able to demonstrate my love to her.”
“My daughter began crying within minutes of the talk starting. She cried throughout the event despite her embarrassment. The father-daughter relationship was clearly important to her. And I was able to see this first hand.“
“Loved it and want more of it!”
There is a huge need around the country for these kinds of events. We are currently moving forward to see how to create a model that is self-sustaining and portable. In addition we are trying to get the video footage we recorded of the event edited into a short promo video for future events. If you have skills in either event planning or video production and have a heart for healing father-daughter relationships, we’d like to talk with you.
Dads, remember—you matter! It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you’ve made or what your past relationship has been like—it’s never too late make a difference in your daughter’s life. She needs you more than you will ever know. Speak the words into her heart she longs to hear. Bless her now and you bless her for life. Don’t wait—she’s too important!
You can contact Rick about this event at firstname.lastname@example.org .