Friday, August 29, 2008

Listening to Girls

Girls tend to be a riddle to fathers. Like any mystery, our relationships with our daughters can be frightening, exciting, entertaining, baffling, enlightening or leave us completely in the dark; sometimes all at once.

If we want to unravel this mystery, we have to pay attention, even in the most ordinary moments. If we want to figure it out, we have to listen even before our daughters can speak.
A father named Jeff recognized this from his daughter’s earliest days:

At three days old, she had jaundice, and they were giving her the foot prick to get a blood sample. The person giving it asked me to give her a pacifier or hold her but I told her, “That’s your business, you are the one who wants the blood, I don’t need the blood. You prick her and she is going to be mad, because it hurts like hell. Let her scream; let her have those feelings.”
At that moment I realized that everyone is going to try to snuff her feelings. I mean it starts that early - just from the very beginning. Stick something in her mouth and say, “Don’t feel this, it’s OK.” Well, I don’t believe that, and as a result I think she is a lot better off.

Why is it so important for us to listen to girls? Because a girl’s voice may be the most valuable and most threatened resource she has. Her voice is the conduit for her heart, brains and spirit. When she speaks bold and clear – literally and metaphorically – then she is much safer and surer. We have to nurture these qualities.

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