Dad lets her get away with anything. He won’t say no. Dad discipline? Please.
Dads, we once symbolized authority. Now? We wield the same power as the Queen of England. Or whoever is coaching the Dallas Cowboys. If we fail to believe in ourselves, how will our kids?
Please understand: Most of us aren’t just rolling over and playing dad. There’s a thought in our actions.
Fathers have a mission. Fathers have a role. Especially fathers of little girls.
Dads must adore their daughters. Sounds elementary, but there’s more to it: Dads must realize their girls can change the world. Want proof? Just look, dad, at how your daughter has changed YOU.
I say yes, a lot. Come with me to the store. Turn the radio up. Use my laptop.
Climb a tree. Audition for the play. Take a trip with your friends’ families. Run barefoot.
I’m aware of the perils beneath their feet. Broken glass. Hypodermic needles. Angry scorpions and jellyfish. I’m also not fearless, or worse, oblivious. I hate playgrounds. The ones a hundred feet tall, with no guard rails? Dammit. I hate them. I’ll also walk between my girls and traffic. Let my body buffer the initial impact of a wayward vehicle. It’s a dude thing. I also have a mental plan of physical sacrifice should my daughter and I cross paths with a grumpy Rottweiler that hasn’t eaten.
It’s not the act of running barefoot. It’s the idea. The idea that it’s fine to sometimes ignore the caution light. To eschew the safe route, and just feel the sand, the grass, the sidewalk beneath your feet.
Mom must teach her how to be a woman. I can’t do this. I’m the first man in my daughters’ lives. With any luck, I’m her first love. Her hero, if only fleeting. Her love and trust in me will find its highs and lows.
If I can navigate skillfully, she’ll love and trust me forever.
I need them to feel beautiful. Strong. Independent. To seek adventure, develop courage, feel secure.
I need them to see the beauty and strength and independence and adventure and courage and security of other women. There are those before them, to pave the way. There are also contemporaries.
They inspire them to their own heights, by proxy if not by touch, so that they can not only learn but one day also become. We can’t do this passively, dads. We can’t hope we are doing enough. We must want more.
My girls exude more courage than I ever have. I see them face adversity with determination in their veins, grit in their soul, strength in their breath. Struggling to find the go-ahead goal. Or pre-algebra answer. Or appropriate words. I didn’t create this, but I’ll give every ounce of my spirit to perpetuate it.
Run barefoot, girls. Take a chance. Live bravely, know your fears, trust your heart. Follow your vision. Find yourself someday becoming the vision and excellence that great women live every day.
I’m just a guy, and I can see it in you. And I will spend a lifetime seeing that you do, too.