A Father’s Advice…

At Greta’s suggestion, a friend sent me the following email:

I am interviewing fathers of daughters of varying ages for this article which is about strengthening relationships between fathers and daughters. I will be interviewing your daughter as well Larry. Greta and Jennifer both insisted that you would be excellent sources . . . Answer as many of these as candidly and openly as possible. If you want to remain anonymous please tell me and I will choose an alternate name for you and there will be no last names used . . .

If you do not want others to view your answers please just copy and paste in another message and send to me under separate cover . . . my email is also fearlessphoenix_kc@yahoo.com

1) Are you or were you close to your daughter? Please explain

2) What do you wish you could change about your relationship with your daughter or wished you could’ve changed if you she’s longer at home?

3) If you could tell your daughter anything in the world what would you tell her?

4) Is there an area of your life where you felt misunderstood by your daughter?

5) What activities do/did make you feel close to your daughter?

6) What is the most vivid memory of your daughter (good or bad?)

7) What is the most valuable life lesson you learned from your daughter (good or bad?)

8) How do you perceive your daughter’s faith or non-faith?

9) What is one question you always wanted to ask your daughter but never felt able to?

10) IS there anything you regret about your relationship with your daughter?

Thank you for your time and consideration . . .

My response…
1. Hannah and I are very close now. About 2 years ago, we shared a 30 minute ride every morning when I took her to school. On our daily commute, we listened to her favorite radio station and their morning show. We would kibbitz about the gags, conversation, and music. We laughed and shared unrushed time together. Eventually, we began to talk about… oh, man….. her life, my life, life in general, our family… whatever. We began to cultivate a friendship of sorts. As we have lived together, with just the two of us, our schedules many times miss each other completely, but we still catch up through long conversations or just watch movies together. Our conversations span the gamut from theology to theater. We both have ADHD and understand the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the condition. We are more alike than Baird or Greta, and daily life is just a little easier because of that.

2. I wish our financial condition was better, but we both make the best of what we have. I also wish our family life had been easier. She understands the reasons for Greta’s and my divorce, and why it is best for her mom and dad, but I suppose every divorced parent regrets we couldn’t have given our children the fairy tale ending. However, the four of us have found health through the divorce and are learning ways of relating to each other that are much healthier for all of us.

3. I would tell her how much God loves her just as she is. I would tell her to take her time in relationships with men that will happen later in life. I would remind her to treat herself with respect and learn what type of person she seems to get along best with. I would tell her to learn as much about herself, her strengths, and passions while she is young… that is how God has made her… and then to stay connected as much as possible to her strengths and to partner with people who are strong where she is weak….
But…. I do tell her those things…..

4. I’m not sure where I might feel misunderstood by her. If I did, I’d probably bore her with my explanation.

5. The car rides made me feel close to her. Talks about music and theater and movies, also.

6. When the two of us moved out for the first time, she wrote me a letter telling me how valuable she thought I was. I will NEVER forget that letter. It is in my bible.

7. Hannah does an incredible job of not allowing people’s perceptions get in the way of her trying something she wants to try. She also has done an incredible job of loving both her mother and me when the two of us were seperating.

8. She has a growing faith. As with most people… teens especially… it ebbs and flows. When you grow up in the church, you reach an age where you question why there seems to be a disparity between what is taught and how people live their lives. It usually takes time to realize that you have the same tendencies you scoriated adults about while you were growing up. Eventually, you embrace God as your God, not the church’s God, not your parent’s God, but yours. She is doing that.

9. Why don’t you pick up your clothes when you take them off? Really! AND… What was the best memory you have of our home?

10. EVERY parent has regrets. No parent is perfect. We ALL grow up saying, “I will never….” and end up either doing that thing or something else that drives our kids crazy. I wish I’d been a better provider, but… it is what it is.

There you go Kristi. Before Hannah was born, we were told she would be a 10lb boy. As soon as I saw the baby born, I turned to Greta’s face and said, “There he is!” A kindly nurse corrected, “There SHE is, Dad…” In my head I said, “She?” My hands went cold. “Boys, I know! Girls? I don’t have a clue!” I really had a hard time relating to a daughter while she was younger. I wasn’t afraid to parent, I was just… maybe clueless would be the word. How do girls think? How should girls act? Do you push dolls or are trucks ok? Greta helped…… some…… we’re divorcing, you know, so maybe I didn’t pick up the lessons very well.

If I could tell father’s anything, it would be to listen. I used to say that just about the time you develop the skill to ignore your children’s endless talking is the time you really need to listen. And ask questions. Letting a daughter know you care demands that you ask questions about them and then listen when they answer. Ok, so that’s probably true with sons as well. But with daughters it is imperative. Hug them. Joke with their friends. Be willing to look like an idiot…. they think we are many times anyway, and we ARE many times. Lighten up! Fewer battles, but make the battles you fight the important ones. Help them figure things out themselves. Don’t do everything for them, but protect them ruthlessly. Treat them with respect so they will demand the boys they bring home to treat them the same. Then you won’t NEED the gun.

Thanks for the opportunity, Kristi.


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