Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Unselfish Clarity

Welcome to my blog, a public diary chronicling the writing and publication of my newest book, Daddy’s Little Girl: True Stories about Fathers and Daughters (HarperSanFrancisco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers).

My purpose in keeping this diary is to give updates about the book’s progress to those who have shared their stories with me.

I am searching for inspirational stories about father-daughter relationships, stories that share wisdom, teach moral and important life lessons, and give others insight into how to nurture and maintain a healthy, loving and fulfilling father-daughter relationship.

If you are a father or a daughter, I want to hear about your parent-child relationship experiences. For more information about submitting your story, please visit my website, www.gregoryelang.com, and click the red corner on the home page.

Now on to today’s diary entry…

I learned today that I get to go to BEA, the Book Expo of America, the world’s largest bookselling event, in NY this May to sign copies of the newest books. Yahoo!

This is the newest column I wrote for the National Step-Family Day website:

“I enjoy a close relationship with my daughter, albeit one that has changed remarkably as she has matured into a teenager. Once my constant companion, my playful partner in crime, and my most adoring audience, my child has become less enchanted with me as she has entered the initial phases of becoming a woman. Gone are the days of holding hands in public and kissing on the lips. These treasured gestures of affection are now replaced with small talk and the occasional impatient admonishment, “Dad, I am not your little girl anymore.”

Sometimes I worry that we will never again be as close to one another as we once were. Sometimes I fret that I cannot understand what my child needs, why she acts as she does, and I cannot figure out what it is I should do for her. These thoughts occur to me when I am thinking only of myself, my needs for comfort and reassurance. But later, in moments of unselfish clarity, I realize that these changes that perplex me are what should be expected, and what should be supported, if indeed I intend for my child to become a mature, independent woman. It is then that I accept without reluctance the fact that a dad cannot be everything to his daughter. It is then that I remember so clearly that she needs her mother, too.

A daughter needs a mom for many reasons, and by the very nature of the differences between men and women, some of these reasons may never be clear to me, but that does not negate their vital importance in a girl’s life. Daughters need moms to help them to understand what is happening to their bodies, how to make sound decisions regarding boys, how to care for herself, how to care for her children, and how to care for her marriage. Daughters need moms because they understand that sometimes tears come for no reason, that bad moods may mean simply nothing at all, that chocolate is a necessity, and that being silly is fun. Daughters need moms because dads cannot be everything for them.

My ex-wife and I have been divorced nearly fourteen years and live only a few miles apart; we share joint custody of our daughter. We talk on the telephone often, share meals together now and then, negotiate agreements about enforcing household rules or extending new privileges, resolve disputes about what we might do differently in our relationship with our only child. Long ago we agreed that while we did become ex-spouses, we will never become ex-parents. It is as parents that our partnership lives on, and it is as parents that we overcome our own issues with one another to find a way to do what is best for our child.

Of course we could not succeed at this partnership without the understanding and support of the new significant others in our lives. My wife is supportive without reservation of my continued contact with my ex, and her fiancé is equally accepting of me and my ongoing interaction with his future bride. In other words, moments of unselfish clarity extend across all members of my child’s blended families, as well it should.

Recently my ex and I agreed our child needed a sit down discussion about a matter that, while benign at the time, could get out of control if left unmonitored. With the blessing of our respective partners, we sat together to talk to our daughter. We were a team, we were co-parenting. We were expressing our joint concern for our child, and demonstrating our joint resolve to work together for her benefit. We rallied around our daughter and embraced the role we share as her parents, and in doing so, gave her an important and memorable experience about how a health family should function, even if it spans two homes.

It can be done, and in moments of unselfish clarity, you, too, will understand how.”

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Now go out and hug somebody, and kiss ‘em, too, if you can get away with it!

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