It’s been a looong work week and you’ve been burning the candle at both ends. You’re doing your best, trying to provide the best life you can for your family. You know things are a little out of balance right now – you’re not spending the amount of time you’d like with the kids, but you know the Mrs. understands. You believe with all of your heart that what you’re doing now will pay off in the future and you will be able to send the kids to the colleges they want to go to. You’ll be able to retire well and take those trips you and your wife have always talked about. Sound familiar? You may have thought I was talking about you, but I was really sharing my own story.
Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt. Most of us want to do well. Some of us are over-achievers and want to do better than that! But so often, we fail to realize that part of giving our children “more” is giving them more of ourselves. Our physical and emotional presence. It’s tough in this economy trying to balance everything and still have enough left over to give emotionally. But that’s exactly what is needed. These thoughts are more poignant for me now than they ever have been! My baby girl, my Princess, the one who was small enough to nap on my chest is now a 16 year old I’m teaching to drive and prepping for the SAT’s and a career as a trial attorney. The little girl who used to look so cute playing in her mom’s shoes is now a young woman sharing shoes with her mom. The little girl I used to help buy under things for is now the young lady I ask to keep any cute under things hidden because I enjoy seeing my wife in cute/sexy under things and I’d like to hold on to the allure those hold (this post explains that). The little girl I once asked if she’d like to go to tea with daddy is now asking daddy when the next time we’re going to go to tea will be.
It All Goes By So Fast!
It all goes by so fast! I just want to keep her in the house for a few more years and shield her from idiots who will break her heart, and bosses who will use her as a scapegoat, and distracted drivers who weren’t paying attention to where they were going but that isn’t realistic. What is a reality though is that we’ve carved out special time when some of those parental vs. teen “angsty” opposing forces are set aside and I’ve promised to “not be upset” for most things she may wish to tell me which could be “touchy” subjects so long as she takes the time to really open up, remove the filters and share her world with me. So far, it’s been one of the greatest part of our relationship!
It was roughly three years ago now that I first shared a post about my sacred tea time with my Princess. Three years ago since one dad courageously shared with me the fact that the article I’d written challenged him to do something he thought was only for his wife to do. Three years, hundreds of dads and daughters later, I can say that we’re only just getting started! Every year we’ve encouraged men from all over the country, and the last go ‘round, the world, to take one day and celebrate the bond between dad and daughter and: turn off the damn phone (not you, I’m cussing at myself), don’t immediately try to fix her issues should she share them and just, simply, listen. That’s it! No major formal event for you to attend. No major outlay of cash. Just you. And her. One on one.
Though, there is no formal event, there is one thing we ask… tell other dads. Some of us need a little encouragement, so we ask you to share this event, in your town, on your blog, in your tweets or status updates and encourage other men to take a monumental step in what is one of the most precious relationships they may have. The idea is simple:
Take your daughter to tea Saturday, May 19th. Check the Facebook fan page to see if there is a tea being hosted by another dad in your area and double the fun! If not, just simply strike out on your own with your princess and begin a new chapter in your relationship.
If you want to host an event in your area, make the arrangements at your local Starbucks, or tea house and email us at info (at) digitalshepherds (dot) com and we will add you to an ongoing list of locations. If you wish to be involved, but don’t have a daughter or aren’t able to make it, please support our cause by tweeting about it at least once a week until the event and include the hashtage #DDTea, “Like” our Facebook fan page and invite your friends to join it, blog about it and point people to the fan page or all of the above if you’re feeling really generous!
Ultimately it is my hope that you’ll invite some dads you know who may not have done this type of thing on their own; you know, guys who may be too “macho.” In addition, daughters who might think this type of thing “lame” will be encouraged by seeing other dads and other daughters and be encouraged to strengthen their own communication and relationship. Bottomline, in my mind, we get more daughters and dads better connected means the potential to get more daughters better protected which means, potentially, less boys “sexted” because less young ladies walk around with a deep sense of having been rejected by the most important man in their lives…YOU DAD!
What’s a “Daddy daughter tea” anyway? And how do I do that?
“Tea,” or more commonly, tea time, is just that, a time to sit down, slow down and just enjoy drinking some tea and having conversation. It can be done at home or at a tea house. If traveling to a tea house, make sure to call ahead of time because some actually require a reservation or have certain hours scheduled throughout the day for tea time.
Variety is the spice of life and many cultures have traditional tea houses. You might go to a Japanese tea house, or a British tea house, or maybe even an Ethiopian tea house. The location is up to you and your daughter. I let mine choose, so it’s kind of like a game for us. We get to go around the world through tea houses. Some tea houses serve full meals, while others serve only tea, small sandwiches and deserts. If you’re going to go to a traditional British tea parlor which serves the latter, I suggest you eat first. Your growling stomach will thank you for it.
We’ve seen it on TV shows, in commercials, and maybe even in our own homes. It’s Saturday morning and what is your daughter doing? Why, she has her dollies all set around the table with her tea set and they’re having tea. She’s engaged in heavy, imaginary conversation with her “guests” and loving it. Face it dad, one of the awesome tools for connecting with your daughter is verbal communication and a great place for it is at tea. You can do this at home, but what I’m suggesting in this post is to take her out for tea. You can achieve a couple things with this. Taking your Princess out makes tea time special and as your daughter gets older you can use the tea time tradition as a “safe place” of sorts. The restaurant is a “neutral”setting where you daughter may feel more comfortable telling you some things which she isn’t quite so sure about your reaction. A daughter may understand that there are consequences for her actions, but setting up a tea time as a safe place for her to tell you things which may, in some cases, get you a little heated may actually get you to where you want to be…in a place where she feels that she can confide in you without being judged or immediately scolded. In a place where she feels that she will just be listened to by the man who’s supposed to be helping her navigate the complexities of life. It may be difficult at times, but temper yourself and allow tea time to be a time where she’s heard, no matter the conversation.
If you’re going to hit Google for info, first try typing the city name you’re going to be looking at, along with the search terms “tea room” or “tea house.” Besides Google, some of my favorite resources on the web for finding tea houses are:
Yelp is a great site because it also gives you user generated reviews of the tea houses you’re looking at. TeaMap and TeaGuide are tea lovers’ portals. You can find valuable articles about tea there as well as locations in your town to have it.
That should be enough to get you through your first tea time with your daughter. Just remember that the most important part of your afternoon together is that you be an outstanding listener. She’s the star and you, her captive audience. If she has any problems or concerns that she opens up to you about, don’t immediately jump into “fix it” mode! Just listen. The issue may not require fixing and she just be looking to vent. Play your cards right and you could set yourself up to be her safe place to vent for many years to come! I know you may be thinking “Yay! I get to be her sounding board. And man can she ‘sound.’” True, but when those tween and teen years are in full swing, the inside information you become privy to is priceless and can serve as building blocks for teachable moments and a strong relationship for life.
Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dottiemae/5342677857/