There aren’t many things in life that truly terrify me. Natural disasters and tornadoes come close, and snakes finish near the top, too. I’m also not crazy about tight enclosed spaces — and I would rather not die by drowning, if given the choice.
Then there’s the idea of raising a daughter. It’s not terrifying, but there are some parts of it that certainly give me pause.
Let me explain.
I had been the father of an awesome son for three years when our daughter came along. She’s every bit as awesome, but she’s also sweet and beautiful and loving and tender and kind in ways that (my) boys simply are not. She’s smaller than those boys, but I just know her heart is bigger.
Her big heart is on display every afternoon when she runs toward me – pony tail swaying and smile spreading ear to ear – simply to cuddle. When she senses I’m frustrated, she gives me an out-of-the-blue “Daddy, I love you!” And when her brothers hurt her feelings, sadness covers every inch of her face.
She’s amazing, but I grieve over the world she will face, and over the society that will tell her lie after lie about beauty and what she should be. She will grow up in a world that objectifies women, that uses sensuality and sexuality to sell everything under the sun, that tells women they’re not “pretty” unless they are blemish-free and bone-thin, that idolizes actresses and models and singers for their curves and appearance – and not their talent. Everything I teach her at home, society will try to undo. So I’ll have to work extra hard.
There’s an old saying that women marry someone like their father. I don’t know how true that is, but I do know that I am the only man she will see on a regular basis for the first 18 or so years of her life – and that I will have a huge impact on her. And so, when my daughter had barely turned 2, I started “dating” her. Every week or so, we go out and do something together, and each time, we have a blast.
It’s a habit I wanted to establish early and one I’d encourage all fathers to do. Here are three benefits: