That simple statement can be spoken in a variety of situations. I know when I was a new father, I was told horror stories by some Dad’s I knew that began with a similar declaration.
Recently I had the pleasure of hearing these from my oldest.
When I first found out I was going to be a Dad, I knew that I wanted to be the type of father that my child could talk to regardless of the subject matter.
Then I found out I was having a girl.
“Would I be able to handle delicate topics” I thought.
In fact, I don’t think I even knew what counted as such a topic. You could say I really didn’t do delicate.
Several mistakes were made along the way. I’m not sure what advice I could impart to a new father, but I sure have a list of things not to do.
Case in point…
There’s going to come a time when your child may ask you if Santa Claus is real.
Do not, I repeat do not follow their inquisitive question with something like…
“Do you want the truth?”
Ok you Monday morning quarterback, of course it’s easy to see the error of my ways now!
Who knew what I was thinking? Maybe it’s a naive optimistic belief that truth is appreciated. This has been a problem all my life. Don’t get me started on questions like, “How do I look in this outfit?” Yes, I fell for that one too!
Even today, in theory, my response to this natural question heard by parents all over seems logical. Except it implies that you will or have lied already
The bigger problem is most children want to know the truth, so they will instinctively request that option. Chances are though, that if they did not figure out anything for themselves at this point, they’re probably not ready. And yes, that is what happened to me. I fell for the okey doke!
Should I have run for cover, bob and weave my way around it or maybe just keep up the story?
Even to this very day my daughter will pull out this memory and blame me for some post Santa trauma.
In comparison to questions about anatomy, puberty and relationships, well Ol’ Saint Nick seems much easier to handle. The truth is you never know and when dealing with females, you better be prepared for anything.
Now I’m probably not the one who should dispense advice, but if there’s anything I can share with a young Dad, do not shy away from this stuff. You are building a relationship and you are becoming a valuable resource to your child. This is good, but yes very scary. If you’re lucky, you will one day experience a conversation similar to the one I shared with my daughter.
As I sat on my couch, listening to an audio book or maybe podcast, my daughter entered my office and made the declaration, “Daddy, I need to talk to you!”
While removing my headphones, I ran through a personal reminder checklist:
- Give her your full attention
- Keep a poker face
- Listen for names and store or edit the record in the mental database (I strongly recommend this to fathers of girls!)
- Don’t say anything too stupid
- I repeat, don’t say anything too stupid
After the story I shared earlier you should understand the repetition of the final point.
Now, the details of the conversation are not important. (The final bullet points above also apply to this blog and any other social media.)
What is important is that she chose to talk to me. She valued my input and trusted me with her emotions enough to share.
I don’t think I could have reached what I consider to be a monumental achievement by avoiding or running away from the difficult conversations.
Chances are that this was probably a bigger deal to me than it was to my daughter, but isn’t that the way it should be?
This is definitely a memory I will file under D, for Daddy Daughter Days.