Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Father" Talks

Every now and then I need to have one of "those" talks with my daughter, when I need to step up and be her "father". Most of the time I'm more easily identified as her daddy or her buddy. When I need to wear my father hat and talk to her about more serious or more adult aspects of life, I feel a heavy weight across my shoulders. It seems like something that I will never be good at. Amateur, novice, fledgling. However, I know that I have a greater responsibility to her than to be just her daddy or her buddy.

Most times when I have these fatherly talks with her, things quickly get uncomfortable for both of us. I guess it's because we probably have too few conversations of this sort. She sees me in a role in which I am clearly ill at ease playing, like I am trying to fit into a jacket two sizes too small, or more aptly, two sizes too big. I know that it would be so much easier in the short term if I just kept things light and fun. Nothing too deep or too serious.

It always seems that even with all of my preparations, things go a predictable way. I do all the talking, she stares down at her hands or the floor, just hoping and praying that this uncomfortable scene will be over with soon. I get so involved and emotional that I start crying, which just makes things seem so serious and grown-up. So real. My tears have always made her scared. They signal that I am hurting or not in control or overcome. Her natural reaction in these situations has always been to try to comfort me and get me back to right. Through all of this, I can never be certain that I have gotten my point across.

Recently I had a talk with her that I have at the start of every school year. I want her to remember who she is and what values she has been taught. When every one of the kids that surround her seems in such a hurry to grow up and fit in, this can easily be forgotten. There are so many reports of pre-teens getting involved in drugs and having access to drugs, reports of sexual contact and pornography, use of bad language, inappropriate behavior, and harsh treatment of others. I feel it is important to remind her that she can still be independent and have fun, but not give away who she is just to fit in.

This year something was different. I said what I wanted to say and I think she understood. As she hugged me, we both had tears in our eyes, but she said that she wouldn't forget.