I have three daughters, Ethel 9, Katherine 7 and Ruth 3. When I tell people that I have three girls I typically get the same response, “You must feel outnumbered.”
They say, while furrowing their brow.
I play along and tell them, “Even the dog is a girl.”
Truth is I love it. I don’t know if this is because it is something programmed deep inside my soul or if it is just the fact that this is all I know. I do not know what it is like to raise boys. I mean I know boys and I know they are different and how after visiting my house for an hour I am ready for them to leave. They all seem to have ants in their pants 24/7. I don’t know how you deal with that. If I had boys I would constantly be telling them to go run around the block. Girls just seem more reasonable. I can talk to my daughters, they’ll listen. They don’t always do what I want them to do, but a least they can sit still for more than a minute.
When our first daughter Ethel was about 2 I really started to hone my parenting chops. I developed a few strategies to deal with problems that would arise, “moves” as I’d call them. It usually went like this. Ethel would enter into the room crying hysterically, I’d ask, “What’s wrong?”
She’d say, “I hurt my self.” Now I need to point out when a two-year old hurts herself, which seems to happens daily, they really don’t need medical attention. So I’d ask what happened. She’d tell me. Now here is where I use my go to moves.
“Do you need a hug?” I’d give her a hug while telling her that she is OK (this is an important part).
“Do you need a drink?” Or you can mix it up and offer food, a blanket or favorite dolly.
“Do you need Mommie?” This one is just like it sounds. We go get Mommie.
At first I would do this because I was overwhelmed with the situation and reacted out of desperation and fear. My child is crying and I want her to stop, but something funny kept happening. It worked. I told fellow Dads of my “moves.” It was like a joke at first. They would laugh. They thought it was funny that my parenting skills comprised of hugs, water and calling for back up. I thought it was funny too.
Nine years and two daughters later, I still use my go to moves, and they still work. For a long time I didn’t understand why. I thought at some point I would need to expand my repertoire. That these “tricks” would wear thin. Breaking down each move it became clearer why it works.
It’s more than a hug. I’m providing safety and security. I’m reassuring her that itis going to be better going forward. I’m letting her know that I am here for her. The opposite of feeling safe and secure is insecure and afraid. I think insecurity is one of the most destructive feelings for a girl. Who knew a hug from Dad was so powerful.
Providing for her needs. This resonates with women. It also resonates with daughters. Can I count on Dad to meet my needs? I hope so because if they can’t count on me they will look for someone else to count on. Not having her needs met leaves my daughter feeling needy. A needy daughter tends to make bad decisions.
Familiarity. Sometimes you need an expert when you get in over your head. Someone that has been there before. Someone that has some life experience. Someone like Mom. I will never know what it’s like to be a girl but luckily I know an expert. When daughters don’t have a trusted relationship with the freedom to ask anything at home they will go find it else where. I’d prefer they find it at home.
So I find myself fetching water and snacks, giving hugs and reassurance, and
constantly saying let’s ask Mommie. I hope it all translates into three confident, fulfilled and informed women. Three women that know they can always count on Dad.
I met Paxton and his wife 6 years ago while attending the same church. His oldest 2 daughters are close in age to my middle 2 daughters and they enjoyed playing together. Over time we have built a great friendship with his family. We have watched and rejoiced at God blessed them with their 3rd daughter. Paxton is the type of guy any man would enjoy hanging out with, cool, laid back and relaxed. I am both fortunate and blessed to call him a friend. Watching him with his 3 daughters it is clear to me that God knew what he was doing when he placed these 3 girls into his life. His love for those girls speaks volumes and I see God clearly demonstrated in his words and actions in how he raises his girls.
You can follow Paxton on Twitter @athreadoftruth or check out his blog “A Thread of Truth” http://www.athreadoftruth.blogspot.com/