An article in the Baylor Magazine investigates the factors in father-daughter relationships that make the most difference. These are called “turning points” and when asked what key experiences improved closeness in their relationships both fathers and daughters mentioned events typical of those that you normally think of as helping to cement father-son friendships. The most frequently mentioned turning points by daughters and fathers alike were participating together in sports, work and vacations.
It’s really a wonder I have any relationship with my two daughters at all given those results! Neither of them showed much interest in sports and that suited me just fine. I have no hobbies and don’t follow any favorite teams or play fantasy football. While I love the idea of fly fishing, I have never fished – although I have read eight books on it and watched “A River Runs Through It” many times. I even wear fly fishing shirts.
Working together? Not much to report there either. I’m not handy or good around the house and it was hard enough to explain my work to the family much less involve them in it. Watching me talk on the phone and type at the same time wasn’t designed to create a special bond.
Vacations? It got better a few years ago but the girls have pictures of me on the phone at Disneyland and the beach. I’m not proud of that but I did finally turn loose of working vacations about five years ago when they were, unfortunately, already out of the house and on their own.
But there was one last mention of an activity that brought fathers and daughters together – road trips. I couldn’t believe it when I read it!
“The first time I really talked with my dad, I was 6 years old. We took a road trip together and talked about everything,” one woman wrote. Road trips? Perfect. I had that one nailed.
When the girls were younger, I started taking them on road trips for Father’s Day. I told them it was my gift to myself. It was just the three of us for three days wherever they wanted to go within a five-hour drive. This was before mobile phones so it was the three of us uninterrupted and all by ourselves.
We never went to exotic places. We just spent time together with no plans or schedule. We found things to do wherever we were. The first year we found a “rustic” cabin by a lake and sat up late watching O.J. Simpson drive slowly down the freeway in Los Angeles. The next year we went to Natchez, Mississippi. I wanted to take a historical tour of homes on a double-decker bus and they put up with me. It was 100 degrees and sweltering humidity. We saw plays in Dallas, a Barbie doll show in Tulsa, and stockyards and botanical gardens in Ft. Worth. We got lost in the woods and nearly drowned in a small boat when a sudden storm swept over a lake in Arkansas. Some of these their mother may be learning about for the first time reading this.
When people ask what one thing you would risk your life to save if your house were on fire I know exactly what that is: A box with pictures and quotes about being a good father pasted all over it from our trip to Houston.
We put those trips on hold several years ago when their busy lives and obligations made it impossible to work out. However, all three of us said we would love to do it again when our lives allowed. This last weekend we did just that! Catherine and Haley surprised me with tickets to a James Taylor concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It was everything I could have imagined and then some. Toward the close, he sang one of my favorites: “Shower The People.” Sitting there on a cloudless night in Los Angeles I knew the lyrics were true for us. “Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel.”
Obviously, I didn’t score very well on sports, work or vacations but those trips were turning points for this father and his daughters. In fact, if I could give fathers of daughters one piece of advice it would be to do the same. Don’t sit around on Father’s Day. Get in the car with your girls and head somewhere. It really doesn’t matter where.
Just be together.