The Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters Group Blogging Project continues.
Chapter 10 – Keep her connected – is brought to by Jason Tripp – friend, father, fellow tyndale seminary graduate, and lead pastor Valleyview community church
Recently I came across a jawdropping statistic. The average American father (and I’m sure the Canadian figure would be similar) spends less than 10 minutes a day with his daughter. Although I make it a healthy habit of spending far more than 10 minutes a day with my daughter, I certainly do not want to simply give myself a pat on the back and coast along. Remaining teachable in every sphere of life is critical and I’ll be the first to admit that there is much room for improvement in the area of fatherhood.
Meeker sums up the tenth and final chapter of her book when writing, “All your daughter needs is for you to spend time with you. Think of yourself as your daughter’s base camp. She needs a place to stop and settle, to reorient and remember who she is, where she started, and where she’s going. She needs a place to rest and get reenergized. You are that place.” – SFSD, p. 220
As I read and re-read this chapter and specifically this statement, I was challenged in a number of ways:
Time vs. Quality Time
I’ve learned that in any relationship, not all time spent is quality time spent together. Sadly I must confess that there have been moments in my young daughter’s life (Michaela will be 2 on January 10th) where time spent with daddy has not been the best quality time. These are usually times where she’s competing with a sporting event on TV or battling for my attention with something I’m working at on my laptop. (for the record, the writing of this blog is not hindering quality family time as I can hear a snoring duet from my wife and daughter as I type this).
I’m learning that my daughter not only needs me to spend time with her, but she needs, and certainly is already capable at her young age, of distinguishing between simple time spent together, and quality time together where she becomes the sole focus of my attention and affection. There have been times where I’ve had half my attention on Michaela, well pounding away on my laptop keyboard or checking email. It wasn’t until one day when she walked over to the table and physically slammed the laptop shut that it hit home; my daughter needs my undivided attention when I come home from work.
Quality Work, Play and Planning Together
Lately, I’ve made a more concerted and consistent effort to spend more quality time together in a variety of creative ways. Whether it’s taking her to watch a basketball game at the high school my wife teaches at (she was the center of attention busting a move during the pregame warmups but by halftime she informed me that the referees and their whistles were “a little bit scary”). Just a couple weeks ago we had a blast putting together a large armoir to help house daddy’s ever-growing wardrobe (I’m enjoying the fact that at the age of 1 she believes daddy has the equivalent building/carpentry knowledge of ‘Bob the Builder’ when in fact I’m more of a worthy candidate for Canada’s Worst Handyman). This event turned out to be a nice application to Meeker’s suggestion that even stressful, problem solving activities should be shared together by fathers and daughters.
As Meeker rightly points out, allowing our daughters to share in what we enjoy doing, specifically outdoor activities, allows for daughters to learn about their father’s interests and passions, while providing a context for quality time shared without some of the aforementioned technological distractions.
I couldn’t help but chuckle when reading about the importance of non-verbal communication. Michaela and I have already developed a non-verbal language complete with signs, gestures, facial expressions and even a series of secret handshakes, which allow us to express our feelings to each other before our mouths are even opened. It certainly is true that females are more sensitive to body language than us naive males are. There is so much expressed in a smile, a hug or a high five.
The Lonely Teen
To be brutally honest, some days I wish my daughter would remain the age she is now. I see the incredible temptations and worldly distortions of Truth out there and sometimes I cringe, knowing that this is the world my wife and I are raising our daughter in. In pastoral ministry, I see firsthand the grief that backslidden teenagers can cause parents. I am grateful that I am able to work through this book with other men of faith and thankful that I’m learning these principles while my daughter is still 11+ years away from teenagehood.
The most important thing I have been reminded of through this book study as well as my first few months in pastoral leadership, is the importance of self care and personal holiness. The degree to which I submit my life to the purposes of God, will be the degree to which I become a stronger husband, father, pastor and whatever other title contributes to the person I am. The degree to which I am able to keep my daughter connected is the degree to which I stay connected to the Holy Spirit, the ultimate source of strength.
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11 / Psalm 105:4