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Fathers and Daughters

September 24, 2012 | 7 Comments

Hello,

We have a beautiful and wonderful two-year-old daughter. As a new father I have a set of fears that are haunting me. What kind of person will she be? Am I doing a decent job? What if something bad happens to her? What kind of world will she be in when we're gone? The list goes on and on.

Did you feel these fears when you had your child? Do you still have them? How do you deal with them?

J.B.

--

Still have them, J.B., and mine are all the more acute because I am an elderly dad -- I was 55 when my little girl was born -- and so the worry about What Will She Do Without Me is rather keen. And I am nobody's idea of a good father. I'm gone a lot, I'm too busy, I'm restless, etc. My father was a good dad according to his own lights and provided for us and was a man of absolute integrity, though I can't remember us ever talking about important things and he and I never "bonded," whatever that may mean. I have known several men who were excellent fathers and who made big sacrifices in order to spend plenty of time with their kids and I berated myself for not being as good as they and then one of them died suddenly and I was sort of shocked by the grief of his kids, who were well grown by then -- their sense of shame that they had disappointed him somehow. So it's always complicated. Enjoy your little girl. Be playful. Be demonstrative. Be foolish. You'll find out who she is and it may surprise you. And I don't know how to deal with fear, except that the day is too short to spend much time on fear, and fear is not nearly as interesting as your daughter is.


7 Comments


Very sage advice. I think you covered all of the important things in child rearing.


The very fact that you are worried about being a good dad means you are being a good dad. A good child development book can help you understand the stages all children go through and when you get to the point that you just don't understand how she communicates, get ahold of one of Deborah Tannen's books.

There was a Cathy comic strip where she and her mom were on a cruise together, lying in deck chairs. Mom closes her eyes, Cathy asks if she's been asleep. Mom says "I'm a mother. We never sleep, we just worry with our eyes closed." I'm a mom, my daugther is 23 and I still worry. I don't think being a dad is any different that way.


What a beautiful reply you gave to the man with a new daughter. I learned something too that may help me. I never bonded with my father either because of reasons I won´t bore you with. I was jealous of my half siblings because of the grief they felt for my step father because they did bond with him. They are all very successsful and I am not. I learned that you can become a success even though you don´t have a good emotional bond with a parent. It happened to you, I can´t use that excuse anymore. Thanks for sharing.


I can sum up the primary criteria for being a good parent in three words. Just Show Up.


You response was right from your heart and if you are able to respond that way to your children, they may hear your message of love. Bonding comes in many styles and sizes, individuality of both being part of the equation. Its not just the time spent with them, because they watch everything that you do, and if you respond to your talents, enjoy your work, express yourself in artistic endeavors, and get along with other people well, then your children are watching that also. They too, will recognize their own individuality, think about their talents, find enjoyable work, and follow the example of to get along with people. They may need some encouragement if they go off in a different direction than the parent. Restlessness may also be genetic, and perhaps,when your child recognizes that in her, she can at least appreciate where it came from and see it as a positive thing.


Parenting

Sharing books,
Taking looks,
Little rituals,
Preparing victuals,
Sweet Dream wishes,
Together, even washing dishes.

Walk and talk,
Meet and greet,
Exploring what is down the street.
See the hawk and the sparrow,
Know library aisles wide and narrow.


Diana,
You are courageous. My guess is your life will change now with this realization! Best wishes to you.

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