Thursday, April 06, 2006
Dads & Daughters
Dr. Ken Canfield of the National Center for Fathering has done research and found the top five things daughters want from their fathers:
1. Daughters longed to hear their fathers communicate love and encouragement. "The best thing my dad has ever done for me is let me know he loves me." "I wish my father would say, 'I love you.'" "When my dad encourages me, I feel like I can do anything."
I'm proud to say I do this a lot. I can remember several times in my life when other men - guys I've worked with (like Chris Watts at D&T), other dads at family reunions (like my grandfather-in-law Paul Hamilton) - have told me that they were really struck by how loving I was with my kids. In fact, Chris Watts actually told me that he was going to quite his great job in Nashville so that he wouldn't have to commute home so far to Kentucky and miss out on time with his kids. I was amazed that I'd inspired him.
2. Daughters wanted their fathers to take time to strengthen their relationship. "I wish my daddy wouldn't work so much and spend more time with me." "If I could add one thing to our relationship, I would add time."
I've always made this a priority. Years ago, I started a tradition of giving the kids a "weekend with dad" birthday present. Back then, I even gave D & Em a certificate the first few times. These long weekends driving hither and yon have always been a great time for conversation and open hearts. And they always set the stage for a coming year of open hearts and open conversations. I'm looking forward to starting this tradition with Anna Lynn and Katie Jo probably around 3rd grade.
3. Daughters asked their dads to communicate with them more and give them guidance. "If we talked more truthfully, we would have a better relationship." "I wish my dad would talk to me more and give me advice." "I need more input from my dad."
This is a little bit tougher because little girls seek and desire a different sort of guidance than big girls. Right now, KJ and Anna love to talk with me and hear stories. They love everything from story books to stories about when I was a kid growing up. They especially love funny stories from my youth and even more so if they involve my big ol' German Shephard, Troubles. Emily, on the other hand, is on the cusp of becoming a beautiful, intelligent, and independent young woman. She wants communication and a certain amount of guidance from me, but she also really wants the freedom to experiment and the liberty that an added dose of trust brings. It's a balancing act, that's for sure.
4. Daughters wanted their fathers to seek to understand them. "Sometimes I feel like my father has no idea what I'm going through." "I wish my father would try and understand me."
Whoa - this is a hard one! After all, they're well, females and I'm a male. That's a lot of difference! Plus, they're different from what I was like as a kid. They're all extroverted, but I was shy. They're all funny, but I was reserved. So, I'm a little different personality-wise than they were. But the root of understanding comes from steps 1 through 3 - loving, communicating, and edifying them. Girls, I may not always understand you but I want to. So please be extra patient with me when I'm not getting it and help me to understand. :^)
5. Daughters wanted their fathers to trust them more. "If I could add one thing to our relationship, I would add trust." "I wish my dad would trust me more."
I know that this is so important, especially as they mature into young women. Emily has been so good in earning my trust. She's so competent and dependable in certain areas today. I can only say that I'll try to do with them as I've done with my employees when working to build trust. Start small and work to big. Small successes mean a lot. For example, I used to resist allowing Emily to cook. But after she got it right on some small things, like baking cookies and then cleaning up afterwards, I was so proud of her. I wanted her to do more, not because it'd save me any sort of work but because I knew she was capable of more and excited to have the chance. Another key element here is that trust is the KEY element of any adult relationship. If you want your relationship with your child to mature just as your child does, you must trust them. And that includes allowing them to make, and recover from, their own mistakes.
So these are all things that are my list to work on for my beloved daughters. Girls, if you ever read this, I'm so crazy about you!
-Dad & Zebraman