Raising a daughter is un-mapped territory for a father.
But it’s territory where there’s no use for running away or stomping angrily around in circles. In daughter territory, we learn that we lose none of our true masculinity when our daughters draw out our “feminine side."
When my daughter Nia, after eleven years of training, danced a lead part in a ballet, I sat in the darkened auditorium feeling chills, my eyes filling with tears.
I was choked up with love, pride and awe at her amazing passion, emotion and determination. My own emotions rolled over and welled up within me, catching me by surprise. After all, I'd proudly observed other displays of Nia’s talents and I knew I was going to feel proud watching her that night.
But the intensity and suddenness of my tears was, at first, disturbing. As a man, I’m used to having greater control over my emotions. But as the power of the moment continued, I realized that these new feelings were exactly what I wanted to feel as Nia’s father. She drew those emotions out of me, and that brought me closer to her. Being a father means being a man, and being a father means tapping deep and sometimes unfamiliar springs of feeling and experience.
That’s very hard for some fathers to admit. Emotional expression feels threatening to many men, but for my money, “real men” are the guys who see this kind of ongoing, intimate involvement in fathering as a badge of honor.