Today I'm excited to share this guest blog with you from a courageous dad who just “kicked it up a notch” this past month. Jason Waugh is one of my Dad-Daughter Friday blog readers and when he emailed me to share his story a couple of weeks ago, I knew that you all needed to hear it too. Enjoy!
I believe that every day there are ‘defining moments.’ And if we are paying attention, they provide information that we can use to create memorable experiences.
At 3:00 a.m. on February 1, 2019, Dr. Michelle Watson’s recurring Dad-Daughter Friday Blog arrived in my email inbox and was that ‘defining moment’ day for me. The subject line of the blog was, Dad, Here’s Your Valentine’s Month Challenge.
You may be asking why her blog post was a ‘defining moment’ for me. Let me tell you.
My wife and I are separated and I have been out of our home for 19 months. We have three amazing daughters, ages 12, 10 and almost 9. Candidly, I have lived in fear for the past 19 months that the relationship I so desperately want with my girls will never reach its full potential because of some recent choices I have made.
Despite being out of our home for a year and a half, my wife and I both feel that I am now a more engaged father. My previous workaholic behavior that resulted in neglect at home had also led to a tendency to take for granted the work my wife did in taking care of our home and family. Some of the changes in me are due to the circumstances that come from parenting individually when they are with me, but the main motivator is my desire to be more present and engaged than I ever was before.
My hope is that my efforts will result in the closeness I want so that my girls know, without question, that they are treasured by me.
The challenge that Dr. Watson issued was for us as dads to commit to communicating love to our daughters every day in February. I instantly decided to tell Bella, Rian and Gabby one thing that is unique to them, one thing that I adore, admire, or respect about them, and/or one thing that I specifically appreciate about them… every single day for an entire month.
Simple in form, but as the days passed, the challenge for me was surprisingly difficult to not repeat myself as I sought to acknowledge something unique to each of them.
While disappointed that I was successful just 27 out of 28 days, I am haunted by February 13th as the one day that escaped me where I failed to do something special for each one of them. But I must say that I am pleased with my daughter’s responses overall! On the 28th day, after 27 days of individual video messages, text messages and conversations, I shared with them the challenge that I’d been doing and was curious as to their reaction.
Quite frankly, more days passed with no response than a reaction, which, if I am being honest, disappointed me. However, when I began to feel that way, I reminded myself why I had accepted the challenge in the first place, and it wasn’t to solicit a response; it was so they each would know how much I love and value them.
Ultimately, my hope is they will develop an expectation that this is how a man should talk to them and treat them as they navigate their teen years through adulthood.
Still, I was interested in knowing what my daily affirmations meant to them. My two youngest were very cute and said, “I loved them…I woke up every day to your message and it made me feel good.” My oldest said, “nice,” which was initially deflating until she said, “it was nothing I hadn’t heard before.” As I reflected on that statement, a sense of confidence washed over me that I have been more consistent than I thought in verbalizing and showing my three gifts how special they are to me.
So, Dr. Watson, thank you for caring so much about us dad’s and the relationships we hope to enjoy with our daughters. This challenge was a ‘defining moment’ that I needed and enjoyed executing.
One more thing. If you haven’t put this challenge into action where you commit to telling your daughter how special she is for 30 days in a row, I’d encourage you to start today and make the next 30 days your own challenge. And if you need encouragement to hang in there through the ups and downs, I’ve got your back. Just do it, Dads!