My little girl turned twelve.

“You’re having a girl!” Those are the words the sonogrammist (I’m 97% sure I just invented that word) uttered that day. I wasn’t disappointed. But, as a male who grew up with a family of all boys, I wondered, “What do you do with a little girl?”

The little girl came to us in June of 2007. And life was great!

I held her, fed her bottles and rocked her at night, hoping the night would never end. Hoping she and I would stay in that chair, rocking, her on my chest, me singing to her for eternity.

But the night ended.

And then she crawled and walked. Then she said Mama and Daddy.

And then something happened in my heart: suddenly, I wanted to be a better me.

This little girl softened my heart. I am not a crier. A whiner, no doubt! But a crier? No.

But after this girl came into my life, I started having eye problems. They leak more often. Like the day of her first ballet recital-there must have been too much perfume in the air because my eyes leaked that day. And when I hear Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman, more eye problems.

Last month, the little girl turned twelve. And that got me to thinking…

She is two-thirds of the way from the day when she will walk out of our door. Into a world where she will be on her own, where she will have to decide if she will be who we’ve encouraged her to be. And that’s where the dilemma comes in.

Have I done enough? Have I been the Dad she has needed?

Have I loved her enough? Have I taught her to love God in a way that will stick? Have I loved her mother in a way where she will look to that example as a standard that she uses for how a man treats a woman? Does she know that no matter what, she will always be loved?

So, back to the question, what do you do with a little girl?

I have:

Loved her, shown her God and loved her mother.

Let her paint my toenails.

Taught her to give second chances.

Taught her how to throw a good punch.

Listened and made her laugh.

Told her that she is special to God.

Stood up for her.

Taught her about football.

Made sure she has some good books.

Read her stories, told her stories and taught her how to tell good stories.

Taught her how to fish.

Aggravated her non-stop.

I scratch her back, take her on dates and buy her flowers.

And I hope in all of this, that I’ve influenced her life in as great of a way as she has influenced mine.

Ephesians 6.4, “4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

Joey Haynes is a follower of Jesus, married way out of his league, has two of the coolest children in the universe and is blessed to work with an amazing community of believers known as The Church at Rome.

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