This Father’s Day, I hope we remember that there have been generations of silence between men about what it means to be a father. Many men haven’t even heard our own dads talk about it.
At my fathering workshops the most moving moment is when I ask: “How many of you feel like you’ve been changed as a man by having a daughter? Stand up if you can tell me one or two or three things that are different for you.”
Everyone in the room stands.
Then I ask, “Stand up if your father ever spoke to you about how he was changed as a man by you being his child.”
Many times no one stands, and rarely more than 3 men stand. That’s a very emotional moment.
Most men of my generation (baby boomer) and older never heard anything on the subject from our own fathers. That’s deeply sad.
However, it’s also an opportunity to break that cycle of silence and talk to other dads (including our own) about it.
Fathers of daughters say they find it especially helpful to talk with other dads of daughters about raising a girl.
In the years before and since I wrote the best-selling Dads & Daughters®: How to Inspire, Understand and Support Your Daughter, I’ve talked and/or corresponded in-depth with thousands of fathers.
Women are always startled to learn that about half of these men (most of whom I never met before) report that I am the first person they’d ever talked to in depth about fatherhood. Men aren’t surprised, because we’re so accustomed to father silence.
The good news? With only a handful of exceptions, the fathers I communicate with are articulate and passionate; we have a lot to say about the experience and importance of being stepdads and dad.
And while much of that may have gone unspoken until the moment of our conversations, those men and I quickly learned there’s real power in asking: “How are you changed as a person because you are a Dad of a Daughter?”