Wednesday, October 17, 2007


If he wants his daughter to be a lady, a dad must first be a gentleman himself.

I took Meagan to dinner one evening while Jill and Linley went on a mother-daughter outing. As we were eating I decided to text Jill with a message of affection. I typed it out while talking to Meagan about this and that, pressed Send, and resumed dining.

A few minutes later Meagan’s cell phone received a text message. I looked up and saw that she was making gagging sounds and grabbing her throat, the universal sign for choking. I jumped up and pulled the table back, ready to position her for the Heimlich maneuver, when she started laughing and held up her phone for me to see.

Scanning it quickly, I suddenly realized what I had done; trying to split my attention between my wife and my daughter, I mistakenly sent the message meant for Jill to Meagan.

As I was trying to overcome my embarrassment, I heard my daughter say, “I hope my husband is as crazy about me as you are about Jill.”

So do I. I want the girls to be deliriously happy in good, solid marriages. To that end, I try to make sure the girls understand what genuine romantic love looks and feels like. I don’t want them to give themselves to someone who thinks a relationship is more about deriving personal pleasure and gain than giving unselfish affection and support.

Rather than fulfill this goal with parental lectures about love and relationships, I try to be an example of what I hope they will want in their boyfriends. I wear my heart on my sleeve; I show them as often as I can how much I love my wife. It is a way for me to help them set appropriately high expectations about how they should be treated, and hopefully to convince them of what they should wait for before surrendering their hearts to someone.

While spending a summer vacation last year at a bed and breakfast in Booth Bay, Maine, Linley discovered she left something essential for living in the trunk of the rental car. I went outside to get it for her; it seems I was the only one dressed well enough for a public appearance. Standing on the street by the open car trunk, I looked up at the house and saw that all the windows were open in our rooms on the second floor. I could hear the girls’ laughter and a chatty exchange between the sitcom characters on the TV show Jill was watching.

Suddenly realizing I wanted to be an American Idol contestant, I started to sing, “You Light Up My Life.” Jill came to our window to listen, and when I finished singing she called out, “I love my husband.” As I stood outside looking up at my smiling wife, one of the girls yelled out, “You’re such a dork,” while the other laughed so hard I’m sure she was on the verge of wetting her pants.

It didn’t matter to me that I had made a fool of myself and fellow boarders at the inn would snicker at me during breakfast the next morning. I had accomplished what I set out to do – tell my wife how much I love her, and let the girls hear me say it.

It is something I do for all of them. It is something I hope they will find their husbands doing for them.

1 comment:

Ginny said...

What a great post!!! You are doing a great job modeling the kind of love your girls deserve! Jill is doing her part, too...I think it's great that after what was, I'm sure, an amazing vocal performance by you, Jill then expressed her delight for all to hear!! Folks there won't remember you all as a quiet family...but definitely a loving family... :)