1st Generation Dad is a series about how I’m learning to be a Dad. There are, however, a few traits requiring no lessons. Exhibit A: A Father’s love for his daughter.

T

o the boy that I’ll, one day, give my daughter to:

If you were expecting a letter, this is not the one you expected.

Sure, I could write the cliché; about the intimidating father-of-the-bride polishing a shotgun while waiting for suitors (the one that belonged to my grandfather and is already cleaned, loaded and sitting in the corner by the door…yeah, that one). Or, I could write about what I expect from you; to love and cherish my only daughter…but, if you’re sitting in front of me, then you have already proven those traits to her.

No, this letter is not about what I expect from you, it’s about what I am doing for you today; the love I already have for you. It’s about the gifts that I’m preparing for your arrival in our lives.

I’m teaching my daughter to appreciate the fact that you open the door for her. I’m raising her to tenderly smile as you gently guide her to the inside of the sidewalk and position yourself nearer the traffic. I’m raising her to respect you for the man you will be, while understanding the work in progress that you are. I’m raising her to forgive you. I’m teaching her to laugh…even at your “expense”. I’m raising her to be your partner, to stand with you. At times to hold you up, and other times to depend on you. I’m teaching her to think critically and to be a trusted source of wisdom for you. I’m teaching her to develop opinions and to share them with confidence. I’m teaching her to love God more than she will ever love you and I’m teaching her to pray for you and to desire your prayers for her.

Now, before you feel too special and get all big-headed (don’t worry, I’m also teaching her to lovingly burst that bubble) the reality is that you’re not the motivation for any of this. My wife (my father-in-law’s daughter), Kelsey, is.

…thank me and love your own daughter….by loving mine.”

You see, this is the way I treat my wife.

I open the door for her, not because she can’t, but because I honor her. By placing my hand in the small of Kelsey’s back, guiding her to the inside of the sidewalk, I put myself in harm’s way. I recognize the respect that my wife has for me, even while I am screwing up. And in return, I get to love her patience. I forgive Kelsey, because I too need forgiveness. When she laughs…at me…I realize it probably is funny and find a way to laugh with her! I trust in my wife’s strengths, particularly in areas where I am weak, and she trusts in me. I welcome her insight and reasoning. More than listening to her, I value what she has to say. I fuel her love for God because the more she loves Him, the greater her love for me. I pray for my wife and I crave her prayers for me.

All the while, my daughter watches her Daddy love her Mommy. All the while, my daughter, your future wife, sees how her Mother responds to and understands my love (even when I’m a knucklehead and buy her a vacuum cleaner for a birthday gift). All the while, Malia’s learning how to be loved by you and respond with love and respect.

Oh! Don’t thank me now, I still don’t know if I like you. I’m wondering about the shotgun in the corner. Shot or slug? Eh…at that range it won’t matter!

Eventually, I’ll warm up and you can thank me then. In fact, if I’m doing my job in the present, then you’ll thank me many times in the future. Each time you experience a new facet of Malia’s love you can thank me and love your own daughter…by loving mine.

In the meantime, make me proud. Love God and love others, respect your elders and I will see you in a few years.

But, just so we’re clear, gird your loins, son. That first conversation about my daughter is going to be a rough one…

Showing 10 comments
  • Scott Thompson
    Reply

    Still one of my favorites!

    • Jason Steffen
      Jason Steffen
      Reply

      Thankfully I still have many years to live this post out…and still call her my own before walking her down an aisle!

  • Beth
    Reply

    Wow…that really touched my heart….sniff, sniff

  • Shelly Thompson
    Reply

    Absolutely beautiful!!

  • Dale
    Reply

    This Father-in-law is very proud of the way you are both raising your family. There will be many bumps along the road for all of you but your children will all grow up appreciating how they were raised and loved.

  • Cheryl
    Reply

    Very touching Jason!!

  • Tammy
    Reply

    how precious! How very precious.

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