Daddy Daughter DateI’ve been blessed with two wonderful daughters.  They are compassionate, smart, articulate, educated – I could keep going on with how wonderful they are.  They are definitely a joy in my life.  The best part is that we have great relationships with each other – we literally like being together.  As my wife says, we’re friends.

I was reminded how special my relationships with my daughters were during a recent visit with my sister.  The family we grew up in was definitely not a model of domestic love.  And it got me thinking about why I have a different relationship with my children than my parents had with me and my siblings?

There was no moment where the clouds parted and the vision unfolded, but somewhere along the way, I decided to spend the effort to show my daughters that they were special to me.  And there were no great mega-trips to Disneyland or lavish parties, but there were times that I just set everything aside and focused on each daughter separately.

We called them Daddy Daughter dates.

They were hassles – I was busy with demanding positions in the Navy, my church and Scouting and I had to carefully arrange my schedule so that there would not be a situation that demanded me ignoring my daughter.  But the dates would always include something special, a meal some place different and an opportunity to talk – just the two of us.

There was really nothing special about these “dates” but my daughters still remember them.

Now there are a lot of good reasons for fathers to spend time with their daughters – we model the behaviors that they will later look for in companions; we get to know them; we show them that they have worth intrinsic to themselves; we give them a shelter to be their real selves and disclose their dreams.  We have the opportunity to say, “Yes, you can.”  We can affirm.

There are no medals or parades for what I did – it’s just expected that fathers will take care of their daughters.  But let’s be real – how many fathers REALLY spend time on their daughters?  I mean, daughters are supposed to know what to do and that we love them -right?  Unfortunately, real relationships required careful nourishing – like a tomato plant, you can’t just put it in the ground and ignore it and expect to get great tomatoes in a few months.

It’s never too late to start.  It just requires that we accept that we are human and take a step – but the step has to be in the right direction.  The size of the step doesn’t matter.

Then repeat.

PS If you find this a strange topic for a business blog, I would remind you of a few lines from A Christmas Carol:

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.