Dads and Daughters

My morning schedule usually looks like this: Make breakfast, get the kids dressed, get them cleaned up if they smell funky, get the boy out the door in time for school, and dance with my daughter. My little girl is about to turn five at the end of the month and like most little girls, she is a dancing machine. While we were dancing this morning, she looked up at me through her sweet little eyes and said, “Daddy, this is how we’re going to dance when I get married.” If at any point in your life you feel like making a grown man cry, all you have to do is say those words. It’ll floor him. My mind jumped years into the future to the day when I’ll walk her down the aisle and hand her over to some punk that can’t even lace up my vintage Converse tennis shoes let alone fill them. After piecing together my heart and placing it back into reality, I smiled at her, picked her up and told her until then I’ll be her dance partner. This scenario isn’t that far off.  It wasn’t long ago that I was sitting on the floor playing with Star Wars action figures and now I see my 6-year-old son doing the same. I have clear memories of the ages that my children are at now. They will be adults in the very near future. It is up to their mother and me to not screw them up along the way.

Beverly Block, a psychologist in California, in talking about father/daughter relationships wrote to women, “How you feel about yourself as a woman goes back to how your daddy treated his little girl.” I remember reading a similar statement in one of the many parenting books I read after hearing the words, “I’m pregnant.” That statement was, “women look at themselves as an adult the way their father viewed them growing up.” That is a heavy load for a father to carry. I’m not a psychologist, although I am qualified to play one on TV, but I can see that. Who was the first person of the opposite sex that showed an interest in my daughter? Who does she seek out for protection? When she is scared, whose arms does she need to hold her tight? Me, I’m the one. I am supposed to provide her with not only safety, but also teach her how to behave toward someone of the opposite sex. When my wife and I disagree on something, she is learning how to confront and handle problems. Everything she is learning about men is coming from me. And later on in life, she needs to feel comfortable in talking to me about men when they do not treat her the way she should be. And if that happens, I’ll knock out their teeth.

If my daughter is going to have a healthy adulthood, then I need to give her the emotional tools to help her. That’s my job right now. She needs to have my support in things she is good at and not so good at. She always needs me to believe that she is the most beautiful thing in the world next to her mother. She needs to be able to stand up to me and I need to listen to her. If she can’t stand up to me, then maybe she won’t stand up to a man later on in life. That will be hard, but I’ve got to let her.

Although she is only 4 going on 5, these are things that I must keep in my mind at all times. Right now she is my little princess that I believe can take on the world and in 10 years I’ll feel the same. 10 years after that I’ll feel the same. 10, 20, 30, 40, and on and on to me she’ll always be beautiful and full of promise and possibilities.

My job is to raise my kids and I’m happy to do it. Raising them doesn’t mean to simply watch them get bigger, but to raise what’s inside them. We parents can’t forget that even on our laziest days. Little eyes are always watching and little ears are always listening.


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