The Dad of a Daughter
Being a Father is an amazing privilege. Fatherhood comes in all shapes and sizes; some Dads have many boys, some many girls, some a few of each, and some have just a single boy or girl to call their own. By chance, I happen to be blessed with one of each. While I do raise them with essentially the same parenting plan, there are differences between being the Father of a son and the Daddy of a daughter.
I get to be lots of things with and for my son. Today, I’m going to talk about the privileges that are afforded to the Daddy of a daughter, because it became evident to me recently that not everyone chooses to see the Daddy/Daughter relationship the way that I do. We’re all entitled to our opinion. I wanted mine to be crystal clear and out there for all the world to see.
First, I’d like to repeat an old saying that I have always thought to be absolutely true; “You can judge a man by how he treats a person who can do nothing for him.” This quote can be traced as far back as the late 1800’s, to an English sermon:
“I think you may judge of a man’s character by the persons whose affection he seeks. If you find a man seeking only the affection of those who are great, depend upon it he is ambitious and self-seeking; but when you observe that a man seeks the affection of those who can do nothing for him, but for whom he must do everything, you know that he is not seeking himself, but that pure benevolence sways his heart.”
Having a little girl is a monumental responsibility. When she’s little, you must do everything for her. Over the years, you become her provider, her protector, her teacher, her confidante, her comfort, and her very first love. You are the standard by which she will judge all other men for the entirety of her lifetime. If you set that standard too low, she’s going to have a rough go of figuring out who to trust and who not to. If you set it too high, she’s going to be frustrated by the majority of the men she meets. While those standards are stories for another time, I wanted to point out that it is certainly true that having a child, in this case a daughter, is a situation where as the parent, you’re responsible for doing pretty much everything.
Sadly, there are still elements of our society who believe that a man is only a paycheck, and should have no bearing on the moral or emotional upbringing of a child. I met one of those elements recently. It’s like bumping into a dinosaur at the grocery store. It’s unexpected in this day and age, and hard to believe, yet there it is right in front of you. Extinction isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Regardless of the occasional unsavory element, I believe that, for the most part, we all love to meet a man who takes all of those responsibilities seriously. Yet, when I talk to people about Fatherhood, especially in the context of a Daddy/Daughter relationship, they seem to see it as a responsibility that is being fulfilled on the part of the adult. It’s so much more than that. So very much more.
It’s an absolutely amazing privilege. I get to be her provider for her needs, but also the bringer of gifts when I know there is something that will warm her heart. I get to be her protector, the hammer that comes down when she is in danger or has been wronged, and I get to be the teacher who shows her how to swing her own hammer, and simultaneously avoid those who will create the need to do so, so that she will not be helpless when the day comes that she needs or wants to fight off dinosaurs on her own. I get to be her confidante when she has joys to share that she affords only her closest trustees. Most of all? I get to be her very first love, and I get to be possibly the only truly pure and unconditional love she’ll ever know. I get to be all of these things in this context only with my daughter, because she is possibly the only truly pure and unconditional lady love I’ll ever have. This relationship is not fraught with emotional complications, arguments about the mortgage, or concerns over whether or not this is a long-term relationship. All of those roles, responsibilities, and privileges were carved in stone the day she took her first breath. I don’t get to be these things with anyone else.
I may never be a fire fighter or a super hero. I may never have the luxury of crossing off those last 3 seemingly impossible remaining lines on my bucket list. There are lots of amazing things I may never accomplish. I don’t need to. I get to be a hero every single day for the rest of my life, I get to enjoy all of the luxuries listed above, because I see them as luxuries.
Now, with all of that said, didn’t I just spend several hundred words convincing you the exact opposite of what our good Pastor from England said in the 1800’s? There is something that my daughter can do for me. She can essentially make me a hero, right? That’s a lot more than nothing. Well, yes and no. The thing is, in order to claim victory on that, I have to keep up the good work for oh, say… about give or take the rest of my life. If, on my last day, she feels that I taught her well, protected her, provided for her, and cherished my time with her more than she could have ever hoped? That’s the day I can claim victory. My very last day. Not a moment sooner. Checks and balances, and whatnot. (The cosmos thinks she’s soooo smart.)
The rest of my life… that’s a long time. How on Earth will I be able to continue eating this delicious cookie for that long? When I am blessed with kind words from people who are not dinosaurs, and appreciate the need in our society for a child’s bond with his or her Father, I feel a little guilty as if I just got complimented for eating a cookie. “Great job eating that cookie, man!” The cookie is the part we all see as the treat. The only question is whether or not you think cookies are a cumbersome expense, or a joy to be celebrated.
I suppose it’s much the same way people appreciate fine art. They appreciate the artist’s work. They see the artwork for what it is; the product of love and devotion. What most people don’t see is that the artwork shapes the artist as a person just as much as the artist shapes the artwork that he or she creates. My daughter shapes me as a man every bit as much as I shape her as a woman. The artist became an artist through artwork, and the Dad becomes a Daddy through his daughter.
Undoubtedly, Dad is a better man with her than he was before her, or would he be without her, because he wants more for her than he himself can give her. Dad only needs to choose to see it that way. The dinosaurs? I believe that the cosmos has made her feelings about dinosaurs as crystal clear as I have made mine about being the Daddy of a daughter.
Cheers from the Uncommonly Daddy of a Daughter <3<3<3
P.S. I asked said daughter to read this story before I posted it, and let me know if she understood and/or approved of the publishing of said story. The 3 hearts above were her response, and addition…