Photographer: Josh Telles
Most of the men at my daughter’s wedding were in tears, or choking back tears, when our daughter gave a little speech about her dad before their father/daughter dance. He had given her a ring when she was a teenager. And told her it represented her heart and that he was the one to carry it, until she got married, at which time he wanted the ring back as a symbol that she was to fully give her heart to her husband.
However, our daughter decided she wanted to change the “rules”—which was true to form throughout our entire years of raising Monica—and she gave a speech about how she wanted to keep the ring to keep her dad close as a symbol. It was simply beautiful.
What was it about their relationship that kept father and daughter tied so close with an unbreakable bond, which never waned even through the teen years?
The keys emerged over lunch with my family. My husband was at work, so it was just me with my kids.
Monica was reflecting with her new husband over the many “faux-pas” her dad and I had slipped into:
- The cool shoes she finally got, but Dad made her tie them in such a way that they were no longer cool.
- The harmless events she wasn’t allowed to attend “because Mom and Dad were overcautious.”
- The new fashions she was not allowed to wear because her conservative parents wanted to keep her looking younger than she was, which was oh so embarrassing for a teenager. (To her credit, rightly so.)
I concede we may have gone overboard on more than a few things. But as parents, we are all just trying to figure it out ourselves. Right? We are going to mess-up. You can count on that.
Then when she noticed the tears starting to form in my eyes she switched gears and said, “Yes, you and Dad definitely were not perfect parents, and you made mistakes. But you did a lot of things right.” Whew!
And now I am going to share with you the gems she shared about her Dad that left me overwrought with deep emotion and reflection.
She said, “Dad always listened to me. He would sit for hours and quietly listen to me talk. He would not say a word, that is, not until I asked for his opinion. And then he would give me his words of wisdom.”
Dads, just like with your wife, you don’t always need to fix everything. Sometimes all we women need is a listening ear. How simple is that? Listen. Be there. Listen.
She said, “Dad was always very affectionate.”
Dads, if your daughter is getting the proper affection from you she will not crave it from young men. Hugs. Hand holding. Sitting close. Affection, your daughter needs it. Often.
The last thing you want is her dressing in a way that screams:
Hi, I don’t get enough attention from Daddy PLEASE notice me!
She said, “Dad always spent time with me.”
My husband would take our daughter out on dates. They also had certain movies they enjoyed watching together. Ice cream trips… dress shopping… trips to the hardware store… lessons on car mechanics were continually in their repertoire of father/daughter excursions.
Moms, encourage your husband or ex-husband to spend time with his daughter. Disappear on purpose to give them time alone.
Dads, time with your daughter will be time well spent. No matter what you do. She needs time with you and you will be grateful you decided to enrich your daughter’s life with your most valuable treasure. Your time. It will also let her know she IS valued treasure when you schedule time with her.
Simple formula for a healthy relationship with your daughter:
Listen. Affection. Time.
I suppose that formula is good for ANY relationship.
Until next time, show grace, live wise, and love all out.