by Richard L. Burguet •
I have three grown daughters, and I survived them all. I am not foolish enough to think I have raised them perfectly, but they love me and we talk regularly.
What father could forget the birth of his daughters? Nine months of anticipation and finally you hold that little wrinkled baby, and you just know life will never be the same again. And you are right. One day they will be teenagers and there will be an index card on her bedroom door that reads something like this: “This is my room. I keep it the way I like it. I don’t want anything touched. Thank you for following these rules about my room.”
Through all the years, and tears, and change, there is one thing I think defines my relationship with my girls. I have been intentional in my displays of love. Sometimes that has been by means of words, sometimes by my presence, other times by the way I love their mother, and sometimes by my participation with them. I have always been their father, and I have always tried to point them toward God, my heavenly Father.
I have three very different girls. My oldest played soccer on the high school team and I used to practice with her in the backyard. I would take off from work to be at her games. I sought to encourage her. Oh, to be sure, we had to discipline her, but we always pointed her toward our love for her even in those times. To this day, we can still talk about the deepest issues of life, and she knows no matter what “dad loves her.”
My middle daughter was the ballerina. I have been to see her dance in more performances of “The Nutcracker” than any man who wears camouflage as regularly as I should! But ballet is her passion, so I developed an appreciation for it. Her need for parental approval was probably deeper than my other two girls’ needs. Being there was important; expressing my feelings in a genuine way was critical. We talk truthfully about spiritual struggles and life with each other. She may tend to be more open with her mother, but we know each other’s hearts, and she loves her daddy. I will be there when her first baby is born this month, and we will be together as families.
My youngest is the one who needs the most hugs. One of her passions has always been ballroom dancing, and I have always been one of her dance partners when we have the occasion. The honesty in our relationship is real, as well. I am the one who has been there when the hard things have hit home. We can talk about life in this world, even in the most difficult times. She, too, knows the love of her father.
Please don’t think I believe I am the “greatest dad.” I am not. I can tell you about mistakes, failures, angry words, and bad actions. But in the big picture, I believe the most important thing I communicated to my daughters is I love them even when they are pretty unlovable, because Jesus Christ loved me when I was unlovable.
We dads ought to be deliberately kind and forgiving. We should be wise enough to withhold judgment until all facts are known. There should be a quiet courage that wells up out of deep faith and common sense that flows out of our lives. Being a “fast repenter” in front of my daughters when I am wrong has made the difference in the long run.
The fine art of being a good father is summed up in safe, secure, honest, and open communication that shows our girls we love them and we are the kind of dad they want their future husbands to be.
Published in Lake Healthy Living – May 2014