For the past twenty years I have owned and operated my own business. I worked seven days a week and about twelve to fourteen hours a day on average, trying to build a customer base so I could make a profit. I was young and was eager to impress my family with my hard work.

One Sunday, my family came to visit me at work, as usual, and as they were getting ready to leave, I heard my daughter say, “Why doesn’t Daddy go to church or to lunch with us?” My heart broke. I never liked working on weekends and always felt as if I were missing out on family time, but I figured that’s what I was expected to do in order to give my family what they needed.

The truth is, instead of giving my family what they really needed, I was just giving them money. In reality, I was showing my daughter that money came first. This is a very dangerous message to send to daughters at any age. They need to know that they are the most important things in our lives, above money, above personal desires, above all worldly possessions.

Fathers need to show their daughters that they hold certain relationships to be sacred and above all else. Daughters need to know that their fathers are able to prioritize life values. And they need to know that spending time with God is required for their souls to be fulfilled.

If their souls are not fulfilled by God, they are left with an empty feeling.  A father does not need to be physically absent for his daughter to feel as though he is not there for her. Some men are absent to their families even though their families see them daily.

Women who are left with this empty feeling from having an absent father usually end up trying to fill that space with other men who will end up disappointing them. Jesus is the only man who will never disappoint your daughter, and she needs to know that.

As fathers, we all make mistakes that disappoint our daughters. Teach your daughter that putting her trust and faith in Jesus will never end in disappointment. Help her to understand the meaning of devotion, and make sure you lead by example.

The Rest of the Story

The morning after hearing my daughter ask why I was missing church and lunch on Sundays, my wife told me about another comment. I had left for an early appointment at work before my daughter woke up. When she got up, she looked around the house for me and, not finding me, started crying. My wife asked her what was wrong, and my daughter said, “I don’t have a daddy; he’s not here anymore.”

Hearing that story made me sad. It made me think too.

Immediately I started making changes. I closed my business on Saturdays and Sundays, and I started waking my daughter up earlier to tell her I loved her and to spend at least a few minutes with her before I left for work. I have kept this tradition to this day: I never leave my house without telling everyone in my family that I love them.

I did not want to lose my business, but, a million times more than that, I did not want to lose my family. I prayed a lot, asking God to help me take care of my family and thanking Him for allowing me to see what was really important in life.

The Results of Putting My Daughter First

This article is adapted from a chapter in The Manly Art of Raising a Daughter.

Some amazing things happened when I started closing on weekends. I felt refreshed because I was not getting burned out from my business, and I was happy about getting to spend time with my family. I enjoyed going places with them and doing things I did not take the opportunity to do before.

The next step for me was to reduce my business hours so I was not working so late during the week. Instead of working from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., I started opening at 8:30 and closing at 6:00. Again, I immediately started to feel more refreshed, I had even more time to spend with my family, and I kept seeing a rise in revenue from my efforts.

Even though it was nice to make more money, what amazed me was that I was really enjoying my family time and starting to gain an understanding of what it means to become a real man.

A real man spends time with his family. He spends his time and energy to make sure his family is supported not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually as well. I started to make sure I put my family first in all things.

I can just imagine that many of you are thinking, “Well, that’s easy for the guy writing this book; he owns his own business, so it’s easier for him to take time for his family than it is for me.” Not true.

Think about this scenario for a minute: let’s assume you are missing out on two hundred dollars because you decided to go to your daughter’s basketball game instead of working. Now, imagine that someone walks up to you at the game and tells you that he will give you two hundred dollars to walk away from the game and not watch it — and to ignore your daughter during the game. Would you take the money, or would you tell this guy to take a hike?

No matter how much money is offered, my daughter is more important to me, just as your daughter should be more important to you. Get your priorities in order before it is too late.