From the first pregnancy announcement where everything was pink, there were always multitudes of friends, acquaintances, complete strangers willing to give warnings or advice about your upon my daddy daughter relationship. I think it is part of our culture’s way of saying “Congratulations”. We like to offer these words of wisdom or funny anecdotes about needing to save your money or buying a shotgun. It is our way. But, there are things that no one tells you.
Except me. I’ll tell you. Here’s three that completely caught me off guard.
- Good fathers, and I mean the really good ones, are made in times of complete exhaustion. I suppose this isn’t exclusive to girl dads but, in my experience and from what I’ve seen, there is an additional level of tenderness dads reach at their most exhausted points with daughters, above and beyond those with sons. Brother, hear me; if you are doing it right, you will be constantly worn out. This is not to say it won’t be fun. But, you’ll be tired. In this exhaustion exists the crucible that will build in you a strong and lasting confidence as well as a secure bond with your little girl. In the end, it is a gift. This place where you feel drained of every ounce of energy and patience is one of the great opportunities you have at leadership. When you are exhausted, when sleep evades you, when everyone in the house is sick, when you have nothing left to give…dig deep and stay the course. Your daughter will see it. Your wife will see it. There is a beautiful security developed ninth these moments. KBO, brother.
- You will feel her highs and lows even more profoundly than your own. Her triumphs will make you soar and her failures will crush you. The most surprising thing for me in the daddy daughter relationship is the depth to which I experience things vicariously through her. When she is hurt, I am hurt. When she smiles, I smile. Things that are interesting or frightening or fun to her are somehow interesting and frightening and fun to me. I have an inexplicable love for Walt Disney World and zoos and friggin picnics. In fact, there are many times that I feel feelings more deeply through her feeling feelings than I ever did feeling my own feelings. At my core, my daughters have been a conduit for stretching my heart in previously unimaginable directions. I simply had no idea how to feel so deeply. But, now, my fatherly affection has seemingly fused their emotional complexity deep within me, like Adamantium. There is something magical in this bond that makes every moment pregnant with purpose. My life is fuller, my heart is bigger, my eyes are more open, and my priorities are more focused because of this inseparability. I don’t know how long this will last but I will not waste it.
- Daughters crave Daddy. Look, I loved my dad. I sought his favor from the time my brain could make decisions. But, that innate seeking for my father’s love, affection, attention, and approval is microscopic when compared to the magnitude of your daughter’s almost ravenous desire to engage with you. Regardless of the kind of father you turn out to be, your actions will have monumental impact on every stage and in every relationship and at every level of your daughter’s whole life. Fight it and argue all you want, but the reality of your influence on that girl is pretty clear. If you walk up to any woman at any point in her life and say one word, “Daddy”, she’ll be flooded with memories and deep emotions. She’ll either be filled with regret or gratitude or maybe some complex mixture of the two but she will never be indifferent and she can’t help it. Brother, she looks to you. This is a mighty and terrible and wonderful weight on your shoulders. Take great care.
Embrace fatherhood. You’ll be great.