The importance behind a father/daughter relationships is so important. A common life situation many face made me realize how important the value is in my relationship with my father. I am sure other mamas feel this, as they greet each busy day, busy week, and busy year.
Five years ago we moved my grandmother out of her home in Florida and into assisted living. Her dementia had progressed far enough that she was a danger to herself and others. Her house was full of the trappings of life – dishes, linens, Christmas decorations, and so many glasses – when does anyone need 18 martini glasses at the same time?
Sorting through the detritus of my grandmother’s life would be time consuming and painful for my mom and aunt and they needed to focus on settling her into her new reality so my dad and I flew out to Florida to start the sorting, saving, and selling.
My dad and I would spend four days together connecting and working at my grandmother’s home including sleeping there at night. I was 39 and my dad was 66. It would be the longest we had spent together as father and daughter since the summer of my freshman year of college. We’ve traveled together – my parents, my family, and I – but my father inhabits his grandfather role and I rarely get to slip off my mom mantle during those trips. Enjoyable, for sure. Full of opportunities to be father and daughter? Not so much.
Over the years, when I called home, my dad and I would share a word or two and then he would say, “Let me get your mom.” When we would get together without my kids, it was both of my parents and it was my mom or me initiating the plans. In the back of my head, I knew the importance of my father/daughter relationship, but life got busy.
I wondered how our days together would go. Would they be uncomfortable? Would we run out of things to say?
As my dad and I connected, worked together sorting through a life, we found our rhythm. We both realized the importance of our father/daughter relationship. Sharing a task helped the conversation to flow. Should we keep this? How should we price this? Why on Earth would anyone ever buy this?!? In between our sorting we discussed life. My kids, his brother, my writing, his plans. We would finish for the day and talk some more over stone crab and glasses of white wine.
When our task was complete and I was back in Austin, found myself missing my dad in a way I hadn’t since sleep-away camp.
It was wonderful to discover that I appreciated my dad as a friend and missed his company. When I next talked to my mom I mentioned my feelings and the game of telephone worked well this time. My dad called me up and asked me if I would like to join him for a movie and lunch. “I would love that.” When our time together was over, we both said, “Let’s be sure to do this again.”
I see my husband work to connect with both of his daughters, I love that he truly sees the importance in his own relationship with his daughters. One is already in the throes of teenage-hood and the other is firmly on her way. Their emotions can be big and confusing – even to them. He said to me the other day, “I’m just not good at feelings like you are. They get overwhelming for me.” But, God love him, he keeps trying, because girls need their daddies and because he is that kind of a good guy.
When the feelings are huge and scary, it’s okay to say, “I don’t really know what to say right now, but I’m here for you. I’m listening and I love you.” These father/daughter relationships are important.
Because girls need their daddies.
So, this Christmas season, and every season…
Daddies – date your daughters.
Date them when they’re tiny and their hand wraps around your finger. Date them when their knees are scabbed from falling off their bikes and the biggest issue is sprinkles or no sprinkles on the ice cream. Keep dating them when they’re emotional, and their feelings are big, and they may seem like they don’t even like you, because they need you. And, I can promise you, they need you even when they’re 44.
And daughters – it’s never too late. We’re enlightened and empowered women – we can make the first move.
Send your dad a link to this article and ask him out for stone crabs and wine, sprinkles or no sprinkles.
Just ask him out, because chances are, he needs you, too.