Dads And Daughters
Well, my last post was quite some time ago - it would be nice if I could get into a regular rhythm. I think this is an example of how easy it is to procrastinate when you are setting your own deadlines . . .
Anyway, this time I want to write about something pretty basic - I want to describe an interaction I had with one of my daughters. The purpose of this blog is to create space for reflections about the way honor (recurring shameless plug:
I have written a book about Honor) plays into everyday life. This interaction was nothing big, nothing momentous - heck, I am not even sure I handled it well or correctly or whatever. But it gave me a chance to reflect, and I thought that might be a valuable thing to share.
The interaction took place at a volleyball match - Creighton University has a strong women's volleyball team, and my daughter and I have gotten season tickets the past couple of years. I love the sport of volleyball, having tried to play it in college (I was not very good), and my daughter likes to do things with her dad. I think it is not too far wrong to say that her primary interests at the volleyball match are 1) the concessions (nachos, a Mt. Dew to share, and Starburst) and 2) the souvenir balls thrown out by the members of the team during player introductions.
Honestly, I am not sure that I have those in the correct order. From the first time she saw those souvenir balls, my daughter was intent on getting one - to the extent that we had tears on a few occasions. Never mind that we have a less than 1% chance of catching one - she was certain we would catch one, and she often was very sad when a ball did not come our way.
This season, when we came for the first game, I encouraged my daughter to go ahead and go over to stand over by the team, right in front. My logic is that college girls, seeing a younger girl right there, will make an effort to get a ball to her - her chances of getting one would be better.
She shook her head at that idea, so I offered to go over with her, if she felt shy. She still said no. At that point, I was not sure what to do. My daughter is very reserved, very self-conscious, and I am torn with whether to push her to overcome those reservations or to just meet her where she is, in terms of her reservation. I remain torn - as I said at the beginning, I am not sure I did the right thing, in this case.
Thinking that maybe this was a time to push - she really did want one of those balls, and sometimes you have to come "out of yourself" a little bit to get the things you want. So I took her hand and started toward the place I thought we should stand, and I actually pushed her a little bit when she continued to resist. She dug in her heels - literally, as it turns out - as I pushed.
Having managed to bring my daughter to tears - which is the unfortunate result of many things that I do - I picked her up and hugged her. At that point, I still was not sure whether I was handling things correctly. Should I still push? Was this a block we needed to overcome in order to build confidence? Was I pushing my little girl too hard - meaning that I should back off and let her just be?
So I hugged her and waited for the tears to pass, and I tried to explain my dilemma to her - I try to be straight with my kids, so I told her exactly what I was thinking, that I did not know whether to push her a little or not. Eventually, we decided we would just stay where we were - that she was most comfortable there.
As I said at the beginning, I still do not know whether I handled this situation the right way - but that may make it even more valuable as grist for discussion. How does an honorable man respond to a situation like this? I mean, I would like to be an honorable man - so what does it mean to be honorable, in a situation like this?
I want my daughter to be strong and confident, to be willing to come out of herself and take a chance. So I work to show Compassion - I believe that the best way to build my daughter's confidence is to provide her with the certainty of my love for her. I also want to show Industry - I want to take action, to push her when it is right to push.
I think I can speak for most fathers - we strive to build our children, and we struggle to find the right balance between Compassion and Industry and Discipline on a daily basis. And I don't know what the answers are - or whether I found the right place to be for that situation . . . and that uncertainty helps me to make sure that I am connecting with the virtue of Humility.