“Raising Strong Daughters”,
That was going to be the name of this post.
But the thoughts and reflections have spun out of control.
What started out as four or five little points grows daily (over ten now).
I guess it’s not a coincidence that my oldest daughter turns 18 and leaves for college tomorrow.
It wouldn’t be correct to say that my life is flashing before my eyes.
But I do find myself drifting back to the day she was born (and all points in between). That wild combination of joy and fear. The realization that I was now responsible for the direction of the life of another person. A new awareness of dependence on God.
Eighteen years later……..I wouldn’t enter her in a dishwasher loading contest.
And she struggles with the concept of turning out lights in unoccupied rooms.
But for all those times I uttered that prayer,
“Lord, help their mother and me raise these children in a way that’s pleasing to You”,
I am beginning to see more clearly now the results of so many answered prayers.
Sure, there were so many times when I failed, as a dad, to listen for God’s answers, commands, and guidance. Thankfully, as I have written before…”it takes a village”, (and she has a pretty awesome mom)
As she leaves home, I know she loves and trusts God.
She is strong. I do not doubt her ability to make decisions.
When she was small, I never thought this day could be this way, but I am filled with peace and assurance because of the strength of her heart and character.
The moments continue flash through my mind. What did we do right as parents? What should we have done differently? How did we get here? And do I possess knowledge and experiences that have value to “younger” parents?
Hopefully I can share some insight that can help other dads (and moms?) with this and subsequent posts on the subject.
Just buy the paint.
I believe it was the summer after Macy’s freshman year of high school. She told me she wanted to paint a mural in her bedroom. Not just on a wall, on all four walls. I doubted her. My initial reaction, that I kept to myself, was that she would make a mess of the walls and be frustrated and disappointed with the result.
But when our kids believe they can do something, parents need to make it a priority to never tell them that they can’t.
“Daddy, can you just get me four sample-sized cans of paint in these four colors?”
I bought the paint.
The finished mural was “good”. What was “great” was that she believed she could do it, and her belief led to action.
I bragged on her work and showed it off to visitors in our home.
Her artistic talents have progressed since then, and I am pretty amazed by the work she does now..
But I didn’t really do anything good as a parent. I simply failed to do something really bad. What if I had told her she couldn’t do it…..suppressed her creativity, her dream? And worst of all, what if the message she heard from her dad was, “No, you can’t do that!”
Sometimes dads can be a great influence simply by recognizing mistakes before we make them.
When the opportunity arises, just buy the paint. Don’t screw it up. Look for AND create chances for her to create, figure things out on her own, and believe she can do anything. Be your daughter’s biggest cheerleader. And don’t ever tell her she can’t.