As I sat outside Walmart watching my husband of nearly 16 years walk in with my 9-year-old daughter to buy me a box of tampons, I realized how blessed I am.
This is real life. Not only does he not care about running into the store and picking up these items, he asks our girls if they want to join him, and they use this time to talk. They talk about real-life—about growing up, changing bodies, what tampons are even for, how they can wait years and years before they need to start dating, how he will be waiting outside when they go on their first date and how whoever they end up marrying better run these chores for them as well.
Love is little conversations and little actions that make a lasting impression.
Love is so much more than saying, “I love you.” Love is not being afraid to have uncomfortable conversations. Love as a husband and as a father to daughters is giving us women the freedom to be ourselves but knowing that we do need and love being taken care of as well. Sometimes, we need the men in our lives to do the little things—unload the dishwasher, powerwash the front steps, and especially be the one to do the dreaded, unexpected Walmart trips.
I will never say I am lucky to have a husband like I do because this is no accident.
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My mother-in-law taught him well. My husband has three sisters, and he spent his childhood going to dance recitals, helping the girls put curlers in their hair, and over time, interviewing their boyfriends and now husbands. My father-in-law was the best example of how to treat women. He did everything for his wife and his kids.
My father didn’t really want to have these conversations with my sisters and me. His generation totally defaulted to the “go talk to your mother” classic response when any discussions on periods, dating, and boys came up. However, he was the best father and showed his love in other ways, especially by demanding that each of our husbands ask his permission before marriage. Each one obliged.
I married my husband because I felt loved and safe, and I could envision the type of father he would be.
God blessed our girls with a dad who they know they can talk to. They know that no topic is off-limits. Dads talking to their daughters about puberty, periods, and body changes has been taboo for too long.
Parenting is about making the uncomfortable conversations more comfortable. It is about still having them even though they are not easy. It is about having lots and lots of little conversations over time, from a pretty young age, so “the talk” doesn’t even have to occur. The talk is really a series of many, many conversations, and more importantly, the actions and behaviors our kids witness.
As our oldest daughter approaches her teenage years, I pray that my husband continues to have his own little talks with her about life, dating, relationships, etc. so that she continues to learn that Dad is a strong sounding board—not just mom. I pray that the talks on little subjects transition to the talks on much harder subjects. I pray that she continues to feel comfortable talking to us about it all.
There is, hands down, no other man in a woman’s life that wields as much power and influence as her dad.
From the early stages of being a toddler right through the teenage years and well into the years of marriage, dads leave a lasting impression. I am beyond blessed to have several amazing men in my life.
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For dads of daughters, the best way to start talking about these topics is to admit that you know nothing about women and our bodies other than you know that you love her and her mom. She will become more comfortable talking about it over time, little by little. She might even ask you to pick her up a box of tampons someday (deep breaths).