Note to my estranged daughter

Several different times during the estrangement that came after my ex-wife and I separated, my daughter has emailed or texted me that she wants absolutely no contact with me.  I can’t write her or text her “or else.”  Not quite sure what the or else would be.  Would she not talk to me less than she is now?  Doesn’t seem like there’s much more she can do than she’s already doing at present.  She doesn’t talk to me and when she emails or texts, it is with the words of her mom in anger and cruel language.  So, I wrote her back and told her that I would honor her request and not write her for a while.  That lasted about a month, then I texted her after a soccer game and she sent me several nasty notes back again.  It looks like this might go on for a while. So I’ve resorted to writing her letters and saving them.  Hopefully, when she decides she wants a relationship with Dad, I can print these out and show her that I was thinking about her and writing her all along.  My brother and his wife had this idea, and I think its a good one.

Here’s a note I wrote in this package the other day.  I’ve edited out her name, but I sprinkled it liberally through the note. It’s about the kind of Dad I am trying to be for her:

To My Daughter:

One of my goals is to be the best Dad I possible can for you.    If you don’t mind, maybe I can explain what I mean by that.  I think for a long time, that you and Mom sort of thought that a dad was much like a mom, only a man.  I think you were frustrated with me because I wasn’t there for you like Mom was.  I think there is some confusion in Mom’s mind and yours and maybe your brother’s mind about what a Dad should and could be.  I think I shared a lot of that confusion.  I think I knew what I was supposed to be and do as a Dad, but didn’t feel like I could for many of the reasons I wrote about before.  I’ve had a lot of time to think over the last 8 months, and I think I understand better what a dad is supposed to be.  I got much of this from my own dad and never really realized how important what he taught me really was.  I think I looked at the way he raised me in a negative way and didn’t really see the value of his wisdom until just recently.

For starters, maybe it would be helpful to explain some of the things that being a great dad doesn’t mean.

  • It doesn’t mean agreeing with you about everything (who needs that?).
  • It doesn’t mean being around you all the time.
  • It doesn’t mean being involved in every aspect of your life.
  • It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be frustrated with me.
  • It doesn’t mean you’ll always understand what I am doing.
  • It doesn’t mean that I’ll always be right.

Here’s what it does mean.

The best possible dad for you is one who:

  • Can hear your heart – your pains, your frustrations, your hurts, your joys – and feel them with you.
  • Cares enough to give advice that you might not agree with – and might not take.
  • Helps you see all the sides of a problem, not just one part.
  • Will tell you the truth even if it makes you mad.
  • Will pray for you
  • Will help you plan and prepare for your future
  • Helps you understand the man in your life
  • Helps you think about the kind of woman you want to be and to work on a plan for how you can get there.
  • Helps you learn how to handle conflict in your life in a healthy way
  • Helps you work on your friendships and relationships, even through disagreements and frustrations
  • Helps you understand the strengths you have and build on them.
  • Helps you see yourself as God sees you.
  • Helps you to find a way to be content in whatever circumstances you are in.
  • And will do all of this with an undying love for you that doesn’t require you to love him back.

I’m committing to be that Dad for you.  I’m already working to do that and have worked at being that dad for you for many months.  I hope some day that we can have that type of relationship.

You see I think that you need someone who can do those things in your life.  I do.  My best friend and my dad and my brothers are helping me by being that person in my life.  I think many of these items that I have listed above are hard to find in a friend or a mom or a boyfriend.  I think these are things that God meant to be done by a Dad.  Even though I know I haven’t done these things very well, I have worked hard at doing some of them.

I look forward to being that kind of Dad for you in the future.

Love, Dad

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