My dad, like every other dad, has things he’s done right and things he’s done wrong when it comes to parenting.
There are things he’s proud of (especially the things that were 180 degrees different from what his dad modeled to him---like taking us on vacations, eating meals as a family, and doing dad-daughter dates) while there are other things he’d rather forget (like angry outbursts, harsh responses to his tender-hearted daughters, and times that full-time ministry got in the way).
But from my vantage point as a daughter there is one thing in particular that my dad did right, one thing that stands out among the rest, one thing that has touched my heart deeply and has gone a long way to remedy the mistakes, blunders, and the wishes for do-overs.
It’s a little three-word response that my dad has said so many times over the years that I’ve lost count by now. They are simply:
"Anything for you."
I wish I could play you a sound bite so you could hear his tone of voice when saying these words, but I assure you that they’re always said in a really kind way. I don’t know how he’s pulled it off for decades now, but this is truly where he’s gotten it right time and again.
These words are grace.
These words are mercy.
These words are generous.
These words are unmerited favor.
These words are good for my heart.
Really good. The hot-fudge-with-whipped-cream-and-sprinkles kind of good.
I’m guessing there are times my dad truly hasn’t wanted to step up to the plate and give of himself to meet my needs, but he doesn’t let me know that part. He just says these three magic words and gives them as a gift to me (which he still does to this day!).
And because my “emergencies” and his schedule haven’t always lined up, his sacrificial “anything for you” stance has communicated that I am still a priority even though I’m a grown woman----whether it’s been my broken down car on the side of the road or my water heater that went out at 9 pm. and meant he had to drive over late at night to fix it (when he’d rather be winding down and heading to bed) or the times he’s insisted on mowing my lawn despite his hip causing him pain. He’s cared about the things that matter to me.
You may not know this, but my dad literally lacked a role model in the fathering department.
His dad was an alcoholic and abandoned the family when he was only seven or eight years old. Suffice it to say, being a father was the last thing my dad had a clue about, especially being the father to four girls! But somehow he learned (and was willing to learn) from watching other dads, which proves that any dad can turn things around in his generation regardless of the template he’s been given…or not been given.
Now I want to be honest with you for a minute while giving you a female perspective. Sometimes life has a way of communicating a message to us as women that tells us that we ask too much. For me personally (when this view is in the forefront), I wind up believing that I need to prove that I’m tough and that I can navigate things on my own without asking anyone for help, let alone my dad.
But this really isn’t healthy. Or good. Or realistic.
t’s actually a disastrous paradigm because we’re created to need connection and relationship.
Dad, you have the power and the privilege to meet your daughter’s needs, whether or not they seem legitimate or a high priority to you. Listen to what she says and then offer to come alongside and offer your help.
Why not take the step today and add this life-changing verbal triad to your repertoire.
Then you’ll get to watch the core of your daughter’s being take flight as she hears you respond to her requests---whether convenient or inconvenient for you---as you say these three little, yet BIG, words:
“Anything for you.”