How well do we know–and how much do we know about–our daughters’ best friends? The answer to that question seems like a pretty good barometer of where our father-daughter relationship stands.
I always seemed to know my daughters’ best friends fairly well. When Nia was 19, I asked her why she thought that was so.
“Well,” she said, “you’re friends with them. You worked with Marta and Amanda and Liz on New Moon Girls (the girl-edited magazine that our family founded). You did stuff together. And you didn’t worry that being friends with them would undermine your authority.”
I’ve been blessed with opportunities to have connections with my daughters’ friends– sometimes outside of my daughters’ own relationships with these young women. And that gives me a unique perspective on my daughters.
The key to making this work, I think, lies in Nia’s last comment: “You didn’t worry that being friends with them would undermine your authority.”
Some folks equate authority with being able to demand that someone do what I say. That kind of “authority” never came into play with my daughters’ friends. By working together, being together, and listening to each other, I shared respect and power and authority with them. I didn’t surrender my ability to say “no” or to set limits. And they didn’t have to surrender that ability to me, either. We listen to each other and take each other seriously. That seems wise in any relationship.
Joe Kelly is a father, author,
blogger, activist, and primary media source on fathering. He has
written several books including the best-seller Dads and Daughters.