Book Review - Splashing in Puddles - How to Be a Father to Your Daughter

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Even with two daughters and four granddaughters, I do not consider myself an expert on parenting girls. I have worked hard to develop good and positive relationships with my daughters, and I can assure any dad who wonders about whether he can really connect with his daughters, it is possible and worth the effort.

Author and father of five girls (all multiples) David Van Heemst has taken the time and energy to write a book specifically designed for dads of daughters.

Splashing in Puddles - How to Be a Father to Your Daughter offers some excellent ideas and perpsectives to help any father work with, enjoy and help his daughter as she grows up. Written from a Christian perspective, Splashing in Puddles has insights for any dad of whatever faith tradition and can help offer direction for a dad who may feel lost in the adventure of raising a daughter.

The Author's Perspective

I was intrigued from the outset about David Van Heemst's perspective and experience. He is the father of five girls - two are twins and three are triplets, and the twins are six years older than the triplets. So, five girls all within six years of age - that would be a challenge for any dad to be sure. I have a friend with three girls and no boys and he reminds me of the challenging of living in an estrogen-charged world; certainly David shares that experience with my friend.

David is also a devout Christian and his book reflects that background and commitment to Christian principles.

So many books written by Christian fathers are somewhat overbearing; it can be hard for someone with a different faith-basis to connect with the principles. But in Splashing with Puddles, David has found that delicate balance of using the religious principles to teach without coming across self-righteous or too other-worldly. In fact, his stories about the application of the key principles in his own family are as real and today-focused as any book about fathering I have read.

Keys to Raising Healthy Daughters

Splashing in Puddles takes as its mission to help fathers learn how to turn their hearts to their daughters and to help their daughters develop in healthy ways. There is a strong focus on helping our daughters overcome the negative self-images that sometimes develop during their tween and teen years and to avoid being labeled by people around them. The author reminds us that having a secure and healthy relationship with a father helps a girl learn early who she really is and to resist the influences in society that might tell her that she is someone she is not.

Van Heemst reminds us that it is our job to help a daughter see her inner beauty and that a father can do that in ways that no one else can. As the first and most important male in her life, if a girl's dad has a close relationship with her and helps her feel complete and cherished, that dad can overcome all the peer pressure and social messaging that others can throw her way.

Four Types of Dads

Van Heemst starts early in the book with an important paradigm which can help any father of daughters. He characertizes fathers in five types:
  • The authoritarian father (key phrase: "Obey!")
  • The permissive father (key phrase: "Do What You Want!")
  • The democratic father (key phrase: "Grow healthily!")
  • The rejecting father (key phrase: "Obey, but don't expect loving comfort!")
  • The uninvolved father (key phrase: "Check out!")
He makes the case for fathers to adopt the "democratic" style and to abandon any of the others. The democratic dad doesn't take a vote, but he does try to listen and be actively and expressively engaged with his daughter. It is not all about him, nor is it all about her. It is all about helping her develop in healthy ways. This thread of a democratic style runs all through the rest of the book.
The Bottom Line

One of the things I appreciated most about Splashing in Puddles was the synopsis at the end of each chapter along with a series to to-do exercises which helps the reader internalize the principles involved. These opportunities to engage between the things being taught and a dad's current experience make the book more real and the practical application much more realistic.

I really enjoyed Splashing in Puddles - How to Be a Father to Your Daughter. It seems to reflect the way I have tried to raise my daughters. I was certainly not a democratic father intentionally, but it was the way my father parented me and my sisters so it probably came naturally. But for any father, whether of a democratic nature or not, Splashing in Puddles is an excellent reminder of what it takes to effectively raise a girl in today's world.

I have witnessed first hand how social norms have changed in the three decades since I started parenting, and our girls have more to deal with than their mothers and aunts did growing up. A close relationship with their father is one of the best gifts we can give our daughters, and Splashing in Puddles is an excellent guidebook for any father to build that kind of relationship.

Publisher's Site

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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