The adage is true—life gives out lemons. To you, and to everyone else, including your daughter.
Without asking, I know what you want for her. Out loud you might say, “I pray for my daughter to be happy and fulfill God’s plan for her life.” That’s nice and honorable. But your unspoken thoughts want something closer to perfection.
You imagine your little girl will be a well-recognized scholar/athlete/leader through high school, graduate college in four years with an impressive degree, get married to someone just like you in her twenties, give you three perfect grandchildren in her thirties, build a dream house just a few miles away from yours, and stay happily married for the rest of her life.
I have no statistics to back this up, but that “perfect” scenario probably happens to less than one-tenth of one percent of all girls.
Taking it one step further. Dad, if you start expressing those thoughts to your daughter, you might be saddling her with a list of impossible standards and expectations that drives her away and leaves her feeling like a permanent failure. She values your approval. It’s quite possible that she wants to meet a man like you and build a family like the one in which she grew up. But that has to come out of her gifts, goals, and dreams. Not yours.
When a dad puts his daughter on a track of specific expectations, there’s a high likelihood that an unexpected jolt of reality will take her off that track. We live in a fallen world in which sin, disease, abuse, accidents, discrimination, mental illness, materialism, deceit, and a long list of other nasty things lurk just around the next corner. We don’t need to look for explanations or excuses. Sometimes suffering happens as a direct result of our bad choices. Sometimes bad things just happen.
If you’ve already painted the impossible perfect scenario for how your daughter’s life will look, that canvas should be taken down off the wall before anyone sees it. Especially her.
What happens when she gets cut from a team or doesn’t get into the college of her choice?
What happens when one bad choice leaves her unmarried and pregnant?
What happens when she and her husband can’t get pregnant?
Or a child has Down Syndrome?
Or her husband turns abusive?
When illness, accident, or some seemingly random series of events leaves a gaping wound in her heart, mind, or soul, will you still be her champion?
When life gives her lemons, your daughter needs her dad to help build a lemonade stand.
There may be other people in her life that love her almost as much as you. But you’re the one who has dreamed about her future since before she was even born. You see how the pieces fit.
You know how to take the bad stuff and help turn it somehow into good stuff.
When the issues require human hands to be involved, raise yours. Be the hero with the hammer to build that lemonade stand.
Teach your daughter to squeeze every drop out of every lemon and add just the right amount of sugar, and stand beside her as she enjoys some ice-cold refreshment. Don’t forget to say thanks when she shares a glass with you. Don’t be surprised when she also offers a glass to others she meets on the road of life.
It’s quite a balancing act. Pushing our kids to reach for the stars. And being there to catch them when they fall. One more reason God made dads with strong arms and strong hearts.
“This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.”
Excerpt from 52 Things Daughter Need from Their Dads: What Fathers can Do to Build a Lasting Relationship by Jay Payleitner, 2013. Used by permission.