Recently, a dad called the Dads and Daughters office [DADS closed in 2008] and I happened to answer the phone. He’d just read a newspaper article about Dads and Daughters, and wanted us to know how good and important he thought our organization was.
Of course, I was pleased to hear such an enthusiastic endorsement of our work. So I asked the caller if he’d like some information about joining DADs. “Oh no!” he replied. “It’s wonderful that you have this stuff for other guys, but I don’t need any help. My relationship with my daughter couldn’t be better.”
Suddenly, the caller’s tone sounded a lot more like arrogance than enthusiasm. And I was stumped for how to respond. After hanging up, I remembered my great uncle, who used to say, “The Lives of the Saints is a pretty short book.” In other words, anyone who thinks he doesn’t need help (especially with a relationship) is either a saint or blind. And the list of saints isn’t very long…
I’ve been a father for more than 20 years, worked professionally on girls’ issues for 10, published a book on fathering daughters, and my kids tell me I’m a great dad. But none of these factors has kept me from realizing that I still need help with my relationships with my daughters, and that those relationships can always use improvement. A positive attitude is an essential fathering tool, but there are three things wrong with believing that your relationship with your daughter couldn’t be better and that, therefore, you don’t need any help.
*It flies in the face of reality.
*It inhibits your ability to truly see and hear your daughter as she goes through the changes inherent in growing up, and therefore it inhibits your ability to help her succeed.
*It forecloses your motivation and opportunity to experience the fun and encouragement of being with other fathers—or to be of much use to them.
Selfishly, perhaps, I find the last problem the most troubling. I know that we men are acculturated to solve our troubles stoically, and to consider it a sign of weakness to ask for help. In certain situations (like staving off a wild beast), this belief system may be ideal. But it’s a lousy way to deal with the situations we’re more likely to encounter in our modern lives, especially if we have daughters.
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