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Portland, OR
USA

I exist to help dads learn to communicate and engage with their young adult daughters.  I provide resources from my vast amounts of research and experience with dads and daughters, and this is the place where you'll find the tools you need to become the hero you've always wanted to be.

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Filtering by Tag: dads of daughters

Why Steve Harvey Is My Hero

Michelle Watson

I’m guessing by now that you’ve heard about the catastrophic gaffe of Steve Harvey [actor, host of Family Feud and of his own talk show] at the Miss Universe Pageant on December 20, 2015. Though I didn’t see it when it aired (and I bet you missed it too!), I have watched the replay as it captures an event that is being described as “the biggest tv fail of the year.”

By mistake, Steve Harvey announced that Miss Columbia had won the crown. She basked in the glory for about two minutes while waving at the audience as flowers, a sash, and a super-sized crown were awarded to her. Then all of a sudden Steve re-entered the stage while somberly saying the words, “I have to apologize.” He told the audience that he had misread the card and in actuality it was Miss Philippines that had won. His words rung out like a church bell tolling in the middle of a quiet night as he added, “I will take responsibility for this…it was my mistake.”

I sat down this week and watched some of the interviews that have aired since all of this happened. I have listened to Steve on his talk show addressing his epic failure. He stood there, alone on his own stage, facing worldwide criticism and attack for his blunder (one that has even led to death threats against him and his family) while courageously addressing the crowd. He didn’t hide or deny. He didn’t deflect or minimize. He didn’t blame or excuse.

If that isn’t a template for heroic fathering, I don’t know what is.

This man owned up.
This man faced his accusers (the world) and the women he hurt.
This man revealed his heart.
This man dropped all defensiveness.
This man asked for forgiveness.

Two weeks ago, almost a month after the incident, Steve dedicated an entire show to this whole fiasco. When asked by a female audience member how he was handling things, he responded:

“I could tell you some hard parts for me, but my deeper concern was for the two women. Because as bad as I felt, my heart bled for Miss Columbia. How could she possibly have felt?
I was stuck on those two women because I have daughters. My wife Marjorie said,
‘You did what your father raised you to be--you went out there and took the hit.’ ”

It touched my heart to hear him express compassion from the vantage point of a father of daughters. He was deeply moved while owning the fact that he had caused harm to two women who were daughters of another dad. He connected to his father heart as he voiced his concern for the potential damage done to these two world-changers.

Just last week on Good Morning America they played clips from the interviews between Mr. Harvey and these two. I was intrigued by how host T.J. Holmes introduced the piece:

“As any man who’s wronged a woman knows, at some point you’re going to have to face the music, sit her down and say, ‘I’m sorry.’ Steve is about to make that happen.”

Wow. That’s some good truth, T.J.

Make a decision.
Face the music.
Sit her down.
Say, “I’m sorry.”

I’m inspired by the way these two men, T.J. and Steve, demonstrate that real relationships involve times where a man must look into the face of the one he’s hurt and initiate the conversation with an apology.

Dad, have you done that with your daughter for hurt you’ve caused to her heart?

As one who has spent the past 18 years as a mental health therapist, I can assure you that I don’t hear stories like this enough. I wish I did. Instead, I have heard both women and many men tell me that the default of men tends towards ignoring, defending, blaming, and sometimes even denying that the event played out the way she says it did. Not always, but often. [I realize that I’ve most likely offended some of you right here. Yet please know that my heart is for men, not against them and my desire is to share things that could lead you to explore the deeper layers of yourself should you resonate with what I’m sharing].

I implore you as men, as fathers, as grandfathers, as leaders and influencers, to realize that you aren’t diminished in our eyes when you tell us that you have messed up and hurt us. It allows our hearts to heal when you ask our forgiveness. We women---your daughters, granddaughters, friends, employees, and co-workers really do respect you more when you own up, admit fault, and ask our forgiveness.

This is what I witnessed in the interviews between Steve and each of these women individually. It began with Steve holding back tears as he told Miss Columbia how truly sorry he was. He then boldly asked her, “How do you genuinely feel about how I handled the situation?” Oh my. Such a courageous question. He had no idea what she would say but opened himself up to hear her honest truth. He had to have known that neither of them would be able to move past this incident if they didn’t have this conversation.

She hesitated for a moment, followed with an awkward laugh and said, “You have to learn how to read the cards.” Then she had a phenomenal follow up while heralding, “You wanted me to win!”

That was all it took for Steve to lean back in his seat, throw his hands in the air, then reach over to give her a “high five” and exclaim, “Yes! I wanted you to win!”

It was then that I watched something miraculous and powerful take place.

Miss Columbia softened her stance as she looked up at the larger-than-life photo that hung above them on his talk show stage while noting, “Look at your face.” She lifted her head to observe what HE had experienced on that fateful December day when admitting to a worldwide audience that he had announced the wrong winner.

Do you see what happens when someone owns up to the hurt they’ve caused another? Instead of blame and defensiveness, anger and perhaps even rage, there is an ability to look at what the other person is experiencing. There is power in admitting the harm you’ve caused and doing whatever it takes to make things right.

I believe that had Steve Harvey not faced this woman, let her see his sorrow for the pain he caused her, heard her out, and then asked her forgiveness, she may have never fully healed. Neither would he. Both could have been stuck on that day for the rest of their lives. Instead, Miss Columbia graciously said that she has moved on and believes this was her destiny.

Dad, I trust that you will join me in renewing our commitment today to step up to the plate and admit our part when we’ve harmed someone.

Let’s listen to the story that needs to be told by the one we’ve hurt while deciding to drop the defensiveness and really listen.

Let’s allow ourselves to be vulnerable and ask for forgiveness. I believe there’s a sizable number of daughters in this country who are still waiting to hear from their dads these two life-changing words: “I’m sorry.”

Today you can be a hero by choosing to have the difficult yet honest conversation with your daughter that can allow for her heart to heal. If there’s anything to be learned from Steve Harvey, it’s that healing takes place when a father (or father figure) looks into the eyes of the woman he has hurt and asks her to forgive him.

We’re all human and make mistakes. Yet two words healed two women because one man chose to admit his fault and make it right.

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Scents & Sensibility: How One Gift Can Last a Lifetime

Michelle Watson

Per·fume [pərˌfyo͞om] · a fragrant liquid typically made from essential oils extracted from flowers and spices, used to impart a pleasant smell to one's body or clothes.
Day [dā/] · a period of twenty-four hours as a unit of time; a particular period of the past; an    era.
Per·fume Day [pərˌfyo͞om · dā/] · one of Michelle’s favorite days of the year, when her dad extravagantly spoils her by investing in the perfume of her choice, all with the goal of creating:  
1: a forever memory  
2: a wonderful sensory experience that that lingers throughout the year while serving as a reminder of her dad’s love for her every time she wears it.

I imagine by now that the majority of you have heard me talk about my annual adventure with my dad that we affectionately call “Perfume Day.” If you haven’t read about it in my book or on my December 2014 blog, it's here: Perfume Day: The Tradition Continues; it also includes some hilarious pictures from yesteryear (as documented by some lovely hairstyles along the way)!

My dad, to give you more context, had absolutely no template of how to be a father. His dad wasn’t present much in his life, and when his father was home he was often in a drunken stupor coupled with unbridled anger. When my dad was a young adult, his father--who'd been living for years in an empty railroad boxcar (how he came to live at the rail yard is a story unto itself), homeless and alone--died from the devastating effects of alcoholism. Years later, when my dad was in his late 30’s, he attended a conference where the men were given a challenge. In his own words my dad says, “We men were asked to think about ways we could be special to our kids, and since I had daughters I thought that perfume might be a good thing.”

And with that, Perfume Day was born.

This year I thought I’d approach the topic of creating a lasting memory with your daughter, from a new angle.

First, did you know that some experts say that our sense of smell is the strongest of our five senses? Not only that, but olfactory nerves activate the primitive part of our brain that stays in our long-term memory and corresponds to motivation and emotion. This intricate wiring in our noses means that a certain scent can activate a powerful memory because it often outlasts other memories that are carried by our other four senses.

Dad Translation: By creating an experience with your daughter now that revolves around choosing her favorite perfume, you are giving her a sensory memory that will last a lifetime. The perfume itself will provide a tangible reminder of your love for her because of the way that actual scent will be attached to her memory networks for the rest of her life. From this day forward, every time she smells that scent, it will remind her of you.

Talk about a deposit with dividends that exceed the investment!

Second, this idea of perfume being a memory that can last a lifetime is rooted in history, going back a lot farther than my dad (who has been doing this at Christmas with me for 24 years now!).

Whether or not you’re a Bible reader, I’m hopeful that you’ll find this story relevant in light of this theme. 

Just before Jesus’ death, his friend Mary poured expensive perfume on his feet, an action that was met with ridicule by some of the men who watched it happen. One in particular noted that it was a waste since the money could have been given to the poor. 

Jesus came to Mary’s defense and told them to “leave her alone” while highlighting that she actually was preparing him for his upcoming burial. He told them that the poor would always be with them, but He wouldn’t. Mary seemed to understand something deeper than those around her and she communicated with her actions that the One she loved was worth this kind of costly investment. 

I guess you could say that “Perfume Day” had its beginning between a woman and her Savior. 

Author Ken Gire says it this way:

"We all grow up and grow out of our childlike enthusiasms. But maybe something of the little girl in Mary never did. And maybe one of the reasons she meant so much to Jesus is because sitting at his feet and anointing Him with perfume came as naturally as children throwing their arms around their daddy’s legs and showering Him with hugs and kisses."

Mary’s response to her Friend tells me that He had previously invested well in her. 

Mary’s response to her Friend tells me that she enthusiastically responded back to Him out of a relational overflow.

Mary’s response to her Friend tells me that expressions of extravagant love involving perfume are something that God finds noteworthy of being recorded in His history book.

                 Perfume Day 2014!

                 Perfume Day 2014!

Dad, I hope you will take steps this year to make Perfume Day a new tradition with your daughter. And if you’re like some of the men I’ve spoken with who say that their daughter “isn’t into perfume,” perhaps you’ll create a different kind of forever memory by together making a plate or bowl at a “Make-Your-Own-Pottery” store. (I realize that her sense of smell won’t necessarily be activated, but it’s still a great alternative as she’ll have that piece for the rest of her life as a reminder of you).

I wish each of you the best ending to 2015 and look forward to staying connected in 2016 as I continue bringing practical action tools that you can add your fathering toolbox.

But before I go, here’s a photo from Perfume Day last year, and a little to my own father:

"Thanks, Dad, for creating forever memories with me and letting me know I’m worth your investment. 

Love you, Michelle"


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