13 April, 2009

Love Letters from Fathers to Their Daughters

Growing up, I never entertained the idea that I wasn't loved. My dad didn't have to tell me he loved me. It was in most everything he did.

When I was very small, it was in our races to the barn to feed the horses, piggy back rides, and good night games. As I aged, we did other things like playing rummy or double solitaire or water skiing. From the beginning though, my dad said he loved me every time he

Listened, considered my opinions, and accepted the person that I was and am. These were the love letters he sent.

These were my thoughts as I contemplated a few lines I read the other day written by Trisha. Trisha writes: What does a love letter from a father to a daughter look like? In my case it was conducting science experiments in the basement or not talking over a game of chess. (Love letters don't have to speak, you know, they just need to be felt).

Men express emotion differently than do women. As mothers, we are allowed to be more affectionate with our children. We are expected to wipe tears, kiss the pain away, and demonstrate emotion overtly with our kids.

Although things are changing for men, they often express love differently...

From my adult perspective, it is easy to see the love that my dad expressed through his actions and behaviors rather than his words. This love, the love fathers express to their daughters, peaked my interest. I asked a few dads, in different situations, to share the different love letters they give to their daughters.

Two kids and a profession that finds him away from home at times throughout the year, Jeff, a charming, career, Navy pilot explained: "I always tell my children that I love them regularly and I always have. I want that to be bedrock in the their lives and not something felt but not spoken of often as it is for many American families including the one I grew up in. I dedicate time to coaching their teams or just sitting and watching their shows on TV from time to time. When I come home from trips, they get little prizes. Most importantly with my daughter, I listen to her stuff. School problems, boys, sports, friends. I'll offer advice if it is wanted. It is easy for a forty year old man who is still in tune to outthink the high school boys, and my daughter thinks I'm a genius in that regard. I am unconventional and blunt. I don't want to protect her from life which will happen anyway. I want her to live it on her own terms. I'm glad that we are that close."

I have no doubt that Jeff's kids are benefiting from the lessons he teaches as well as those he learned from his childhood experiences.

His thoughts were partially echoed by the savvy dad of the internet, David, "One way for me is showing up to all her soccer games and track events, and cheering her on in a positive way. Also, cooking her pancakes when I'd rather have waffles. :-) A love letter from her to me is an unprompted hug and a kiss on the cheek." And as for his son, "I treat him as an equal when we are talking about stuff. I laugh at his jokes, and don't belittle him. I ask his opinion, and take his advice when I can. As for him to me - he makes me things and gives me tokens. A card, a rock, a stick. It's his way of showing me he thought of me. (As he gets older, the tokens he gives are becoming more mature.)."

What about my own daughter? How does her father demonstrate his love for her in light of their relationship? he gives her tokens of recognition during her ballet performances and is saving his pennies to send her to an excellent ballet camp should her dreams remain constant. When I asked him, specifically, he said, "Here's one -- I like to connect and show love through food -- so every time I cook something she loves, or try to broaden her tastes with something new, it's a love letter."

I loved writing this post and only wish I could have talked with more men about the love letters they send to their kids.

What are your love letters to your kids? What were the love letters you received from your parents?

1 comment:

dadshouse said...

Beautiful post! I like that your dad listened and considered your opinion. I wrote that about my son, but it's true for my daughter also. Treating kids as being worth listening to is HUGE for their self confidence and esteem. Helping your kid feel good about themselves is a great way to love them.