Are we the “Daddy” our daughter’s deserve?

I received a letter about 6 months ago that brought to my attention a possibility that never occurred to me for a second as something that may be true. The letter made compliments to my autobiography Chef’s Tales, they wrote to tell me how they had enjoyed the book and lamented on how it had made an impact on their life giving them the courage to pursue their dreams. 

 I was feeling rather happy with myself and felt extremely proud that I had managed to make an impact on a persons feelings enough for them to chase their dreams. Then, right at the end of the lovely note, the author of the letter made a statement followed by a simple question, “I think you were very brave to just simply pack up and leave home whilst you were just 18 and travel the world on your own, congratulations to you, however I have one question if I may please. Children living in a normal, loving and caring family would be broken hearted to leave their home and family as you did, how did you cope with this loss at such an early age?” 

Over the years many people have asked me how I was so brave, but until it was brought to my attention, I never reflected for a second why I felt the urge to leave so early in the first place. The standard answer was that I loved travelling, therefore the romance and glamour of being a globe trotter took the better of me and off I went strolling towards a beautiful setting sunset never to be seen again for many years to come. 

A lot of soul searching pursued and I have come to the following conclusion, somehow I must have been unhappy about something or felt a void that needed to be filled. I really believe that I had a lovely child hood; however my father was a very conservative man who constantly told me that whilst I was living in his house, I had to do as I was told until I was 18 years of age. The constant feeling of being controlled and told not to leave the house over the years, especially when I was young may have affected me subconsciously. He went on to teach me that on reaching 18 years of age, I was then old enough to make my own decisions and so I did, not only leaving the house, not only the country but leaving the continent too! 

A few days ago I was telling a girl friend of mine about how I whisper every night in my two daughters ears that I love them before they go to sleep. She told me that daughters were very lucky and wished her father had done so with her. She then mentioned that she had made up for the lack of love from her father by finding other men to love her instead. 

She went on to tell me that when she was young, going to school was very unpleasant, as her friends were being hugged at the gate she would already be half way to her class and her father half way down the road in the car before other parents would be willing to break the bear hug on their children. The last heart wrenching sentence to me was that watching her friends enjoying the attention from affectionate and loving parents whilst she was unable to purchase a hug if she had the money to do so would always tear her heart out. 

My conclusion to this lesson in life is that as a daddy, I should continue to hug my daughters every day and tell them I love them, for without this, I fear they may rush all too quickly and find another “daddy” to fill this void and whom may not have the same intentions as I do.

Lasting impressions on our children

I read in a magazine that even picking up kids late from school on a regular basis can have a negative and long lasting impression on children and should be avoided when ever possible. As I was reading this article I could not help but think that the writer was overreacting somewhat and thought to myself how Alycia, my 9 year old, was so happy to see me when I showed up late, not a frown or angry look in sight. A few days later when I picked her up, I decided to have a slow drive home and get involved with some idle banter on the subject and at the same time get her opinion.

As I asked her how her day had gone and when I received the customary “ok”, I moved on to the main gig, “you know sweetheart” I started out, “when I arrive to pick you up from school you always look so happy so I guess you don’t mind so much that I am late do you?” I ventured. “That’s not exactly true dad to be honest, I am so happy to see you due to the fact that I don’t have to sit there anymore and be embarrassed being, yet again, the last one to be picked up from school”.

I turned on the indicator and pulled over, “What do you mean” I enquired. “The worst part of all” she continued, “is that as there is no parking and as I have no idea what time you and mummy are going to pick me up, I can’t even hide in the Library so that no one sees me, I have to sit by the drop off and pick up area in full view of the whole school and wait for the daily comments to start”.

I was shell shocked to think that as a loving father, I could be so busy with my daily schedule and routine that I could have become so clueless.

Later that night I went back to the magazine to have a closer look, they explained that even a minor public scolding, forcing children to wear clothing which would ensure that they were made fun of all day at school, using pet names in front of their friends, showing baby photos of them to their friends, holding their hands in public, announcing their weaknesses in front of others and even a public hug may humiliate them and set them off down a slope of terrible memories when they became older.

I have lots of middle age friends and we all seem to carry some kind of scared baggage about our childhood and we all seem to harbor some kind of memories which indicate that we may have been hurt in one way or another.

I have now come to the conclusion that as parents, we are the main obstacles that get in the way of where our children want to go which will usually end up with some kind of confrontation and if we are not careful this will allow ill feelings to develop. Alycia, is as yet unable to see why I don’t allow her to have a sleep over at her friend’s house; the trivial fact that her friend has 2 brothers aged 14 and 16 does not mean anything and in her mind is information that should not be involved in the decision process. I can only live and hope that one day when she is old enough to understand what may have happened if I would have allowed her to go, will enable her to appreciate my decision and for its importance.

Everyone knows my thought process on verbal, physical or mental abuse and that I believe it is an absolute disgrace and tragedy to say the very least, but the question here is, are we doing enough to make our children really understand and believe that we love them.

Are we giving them memories that we would hope keeps their soul warm at night and memories that will ensure they grow up with enough love to share with their own children too.

I have to believe that there must be nothing worse than enabling your children to carry around bad memories forever that could have been avoided with a little more care and thought.

To ensure that Alycia has long lasting, loving and fond memories, I am going to pledge that I pick her up from school on time more often than not, whisper in her ear that she is my angel before she goes to sleep at night and every day give her a big hug, look at her right in the eyes and tell her that I love her….if I do this long enough, hopefully she will forgive me for the mistakes that I have already made.