Getting Closer

She Sweetly Replied, "You'll Be Dead."

When I count to three, please say the name of a loved one with whom you want to have a better relationship. Someone you want close to you.

One. Two. Three.

This pep talk is for them.

Not bad
The person’s name who I said when I counted to three is my 12-year old daughter. She’s your typical pre-teen girl. Developing as a beautiful young lady, a little shy, really into her friends, watches Nickelodeon, loves animals. She’s a great kid.

Sadly, she and I don’t have a great relationship. We’re just not as close as a father and daughter should be. As many of the women in the audience can attest, there’s something special about a father daughter relationship, a certain magic. My daughter and I have trouble capturing the father-daughter magic.

Our relationship is not bad, but when I’m on my death bed, lying there with my eyes closed, ready to breathe my last, and someone asks me how my relationship with my daughter is, I don’t want to say “not bad,” while the one tear silently runs down my cheek.

The man-to-man defense
There’s probably several reasons we are where we are, but the main one is that, when it comes to raising kids, the wife and I went for the man-to-man defense, vs. the zone defense. I focused on my son, and she focused on my daughter.

It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision. It just evolved naturally. In the back of our minds, we thought I would have better luck teaching my son to be a man than I would teaching my daughter to be a woman.

Don’t just stand there…
Over the years, I’ve learned if I want to be closer to my daughter, I need to do something about it. We’re not just going to automatically get closer; in fact, odds are that we’re going to grow further apart. Friends are becoming a bigger priority in her life, soon she’ll be in high school, then she may fly the nest to go to college. Her life is getting more complicated every minute. And like with you, my life is already pretty complicated.

Dead on?
I figure I’ve got a good 6 years to make it happen. How much time do you have with your loved one?

With my daughter, I may not even have that long, as she painfully, humorously reminded me at the tender age of eight years old.

One night, when she was eight and I was tucking her in, I asked her: “Sweetheart, what do you think your future husband will say when I tell him how you were when you were little?” She sweetly replied, “When I get married, you’ll be dead.”

We always laugh when we tell that story, but maybe she was right. Maybe her infinite 8-year old wisdom was right on and I won’t be there when she gets married. My preferred scenario has me winning the Lottery and retiring to the south of France as the reason I’m not there, but anything can happen. There are no guarantees.

Action time
By recognizing my relationship with my daughter can be closer, and by deciding to do something about it right now, it will be better. Like a lot of things, awareness is the first step. Awareness followed by action.

I’ve already started taking weekly walks with her and our dog, Misty. If nothing else, at least Misty and I are getting closer.

And now your loved one, Ann, Fred, Bill, Twyla, or whatever name you spoke. In thinking about them, you took that first step. What’s the next?