Things I Love: My Daughters

Earlier this week I was sent a link about 50 things a father could do to make his daughters great people. It was 50 pieces of advice designed to ensure a man’s daughters are confident, strong, and prepared for life in this scary world.

Read it here:

And I thought, “oh, these are great ideas. I do some of these things and I’ll start doing some of the other things.”

And then I thought, “wait a minute! How are these the only 50 things? And where’s the fine print, here? Does this dude have some psych degree and is he willing to pay for a tattoo removal should any of these techniques fail?”

I feel like I’m a pretty good Dad. I give myself a B+ on most days. I try and take the wisdom from my Dad and watch how he raised his daughter (aka my sister), mix it with whatever my father-in-law did to create my awesome wife, and then I go over my notes from watching my uncles raise my girl cousins, and I think I’m on the right track. But I certainly don’t feel like I could write a definitive advice column on raising a great daughter who will then grow into a perfect teen, 20something, and grown-up woman/Mom/wife.

I know what yer saying …geez, Don. You certainly are over thinking this and pooping on a really nice blog entry by someone. Trust me …no poop was used in the writing of this blog.

The problem I have with lists like this is how they make me feel like I’m desperately behind the curve when I see 5, 6, or a dozen things I’ve never done with my daughters. Plus, such lists always say “tell your daughters they are beautiful.” But I read a book once that said DON’T tell your daughters they are beautiful, and instead tell ’em they’re smart. Because then we heap societies judgements on them and they will grow up thinking, ‘I must be beautiful’ when we want them to think ‘I am smart.’ So, that’s why I greet my daughters each morning with a hearty, “Good morning my beautiful, smart, confident, humble, prayerful, realistic, fun, nice, pretty, intelligent, forgiving, awesome, great, creative, angel!” It’s a mouthful, but I don’t want to pigeon hole her.

Or maybe I’m heaping too much on her.

Point is, I think lists are great, but if you read Tim Russert’s book “Wisdom of Our Fathers”, you’ll notice that every daughter and son in the book speaks glowingly of their own father. Some fathers were like friends, some fathers were distant and cold, and others were somewhere in the middle. I’ve determined it’s pretty hard to screw up being a father. But when you screw up, the damage can be catastrophic.

On the list linked above, here’s what I’m not doing. I’m not buying her Converse All-Stars (aka Chuck Taylors) because I think those shoes are ugly. I’ll never take her camping and I’ll tell her why camping is horrible. I’m already 8 letters behind on the “write her a letter every year on her birthday and give them to her someday”, and sorry …no puppy. So I guess I’m a bad father. But I do let her make me coffee (not like a helper monkey …she loves it). She is my official salsa taste tester. She fights with her mother and I always take my daughter’s side. I’m the bad guy at bedtimes on school nights. I cuddle with them at bedtime. I make my two daughters share a room and when they complain about wishing they could have their own rooms, I tell them they can …and it’ll happen 15 years from now when they graduate college and they get a job and don’t move back in with me. Then again …making them share a room NOW will prepare them for having roommates in college, after college, and then for marriage. Compromise, sharing, fighting, and making up are all part of it.

And finally, at this stage, with an 8 and 5 year old, I’m just hoping the moves I’m making now will pay dividends 10 years from now. I’m sure just about every father who’s had to deal with double pierced ears, tattoos, too much make-up, lies, sneaking out of the house, and being told “I hate you Dad and I wish I had never been born” …I bet at least a few of those Dads took their girls fishing and taught them to change a tire.

Here’s hoping I’m doing things right.

p.s. this video has nothing to do with this post. Just a song stuck in my head by Allison Krauss & Union Station.

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