My high school senior and I were talking recently. She mentioned something like “When I make it I’m going to take care of you guys.” I promptly replied with “I don’t know if you’re quite willing to do what it takes to be in a position to take care of us.”
Needless to say, this didn’t go over that well with my soon to be 18 year old. With the help of my wife, I realized that my words were indeed poorly chosen. She reminded me that Fathers have more of an impact on their daughter’s confidence and emotional well-being than their mothers.
My words were taken as an expression of my lack of confidence in her capabilities to make it in life. My words were based on a perceived lack of effort on her part. A lack of seriousness for the moment that was upon her. It looked as if she wasn’t rising to the occasion that adulthood provides every adolescent.
What I thought was me challenging her to push for greatness, was really me punishing her with my own fear and anxiety for her future. I went to my daughter and apologized for offending her with what I said. “You have everyone I told her that I believed that she possessed everything within her to achieve her dreams.
I likened her to an egg. Everything is already inside that egg to become a hen, rooster, or even fried chicken. (Let’s pretend chickens fly for the sake of this metaphor.) She already has inside her shell the makings of feathers that will keep her warm from what will seem like, world’s constant rejection. Inside that shell are the feet that will take her to new and distant places. Under that protective casing are the wings that will help her soar to new heights well above mediocrity and even beyond her doubts and fears.
As the Father-figure, I must provide warmth and safety. This is in the form of supportive and encouragement. This can be in the form of asking questions to allow her to engage in the process of becoming an adult.
All I’m supposed to do is believe in her capabilities to do anything she set her mind to. It’s going to be up to her to crack that sell from the inside when she’s ready