By Greg Wright
Eighteen years ago, my wife handed me a Hallmark card with little booties on it and once I put two and two together, I remember feeling this tiny bit of excitement buried under a mountain of “Yikes! Now what?”
Four teenage daughters and one female dog later, I’ve realized it’s not easy to figure out the typical dad-planning stuff like how to save for their college fund and remembering to keep their favorite cereal on the table.
But it’s really not easy to plan the relationship part, and I will go so far as to bet that most dads don’t do this at all. Most likely you’re not playing hooky on purpose; you may just not realize the importance of truly connecting with these mysterious little creatures or even how to go about it.
Personally, I am determined not to be a grandfather before I’m a grandfather. What I mean by this is that I refuse to play the role of the occasional pal who’s only there for the fun, and then at the end of the weekend gets to kick the kiddos back to their mom who lives with them in the real world.
That’s why this summer I’m challenging myself and other dads to not put anyone between you and your kids’ experiences. It’s easy to say, but sometimes seems impossible to do.
Consider this piece of conversation:
“Dad, where’s mom?” “I’m not sure, why?” “Well, I just need mom.”
By allowing this common dialogue to take place, our silence is giving our children permission to only approach their mothers with the really important stuff. The result? We end up missing out on the totality of our child.
So, here’s the deal: Without leaning into the conversation, you’ll never know if it really was a “girl thing” or a situation like “a guy said something to me today and it hurt my feelings and I don’t know what to do,” where your fatherly guidance could be truly appreciated.
It’s those relatively ordinary moments that pose tremendous opportunities for us to connect with our daughters—and sons—on a higher level.
The bottom line is that I don’t want anyone sitting in the front seat blocking the view of my daughter’s mind. I want to be center stage.
It doesn’t always mean I will be able to and it doesn’t always mean I should, but I want the choice and the ability to decide for myself.
Greg Wright is an Austin-based father of four teenage girls and author of “Daddy Dates: Four Daughters, One Clueless Dad, and His Quest to Win Their Hearts.” Learn more by visiting the Daddy Dates website.