Parenthood wraps up a myriad of roles. For the father of girls there’s a special role of eternal significance as I discovered when I took my youngest daughter to a Father/Daughter Valentine’s Day Ball a few years back now.
What reminded me of the special role of the father in being that ‘caretaker prince’ for their daughter was the promotional photograph on the flyer for an upcoming father/daughter ball.
The photo revealed in the face of the father the essence of, ‘Yes, she’s my little princess... but my real Princess is at home with my other kids.’
In this, the father is chivalrous. He’s the dire defender of his daughter’s dignity and chastity, and certainly her emotional wellbeing. But, there’s a limit. It’s an appropriate limit.
The father is, of course, most committed to his own Princess—his wife—the other person in the primary relationship of his life. His role in bridging the gap in his daughter’s life is a temporary one. It slowly morphs from being teacher and guide to coach, then finally to friend. She eventually finds a life of her very own. And with his blessing!
She depends on him to a greater and becoming lesser extent through her formative years. The girls’ relationship with Dad is synonymous to her future relationship with her very own husband. The modelling process is steadfastly and fundamentally in place.
This is why dads of girls (and boys too) are so important. They help set the mould. They encourage their kids to explore the world, replete with risks inherent in living life; appropriate risks.
Fathers of daughters, be aware: we are the caretaker prince in her life. We respect and care for her. We engender in her feelings of confidence and assurance. In this, her model man is equally mature and meek, though confident.
Fathers are creating their families right now, in the present moment. They speak a history and a legacy tantamount to dawning of a time yet to be realised. This is a powerful role and each dad must grip that challenge enthusiastically, with fervour, but in gentleness and wisdom.
The caretaker prince travels with his daughter (the ‘bride to be’) always focused to a great extent on the externalities of his role. He cannot afford to take things too personally. He must know when to let go.
For how do we love appropriately? Lightly, gently, sincerely, but most certainly, calmly.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.