Why Are Men Often Silent? (Part 2)

I am writing this on Memorial Day morning.  It is early in the morning.  When I got up, I met youngest daughter and her very good friend in the kitchen (the daughter of good friends).  They had been in our house during the night.  They had not slept yet.  (Other friends left about thirty minutes earlier.)  All are home from college.  All were in our house during the night, talking and laughing.  That is the youngest daughter.

Oldest daughter called last night.  She and her husband just got back from Florida.  They live in Murfreesboro, Tenn. just outside of Nashville.  They went to Florida with friends and had a wonderful time.  (She tells me in detail every kind of fish they had for dinner over the weekend!  I’m a little jealous.)  That is the oldest daughter.

Both daughters were raised by a dad who knew something about silent men.  Yet, early on, I wanted them to feel a strong sense of connection with me as their dad.  We began doing something early on that has continued for years.  When they were still very small, I would take each daughter on "special days."  Basically, that meant I would take a daughter to McDonald’s or Hardee’s for breakfast.  (Charlotte, my wife, would not be with us, nor would the other daughter).  This breakfast would be unhurried and leisurely.  Again, we started this when they were very young.  I have memories of one of them, Christine, having a long discussion with me as to how to get more jelly if you wanted it.  Jamie, about three years old, once smeared a mirror in McDonald’s with grape jelly.  Most of all this was a time just for them.  No cell phones.  No sitting with people who happened to be there who we knew from church or elsewhere.  (I have no idea why we began calling these occasions "special days.")

We did this for many years even through their high school and college years.  Now there were a few changes.  Breakfast became lunch.  McDonald’s became Chili’s.  However, the purpose was the same.  This was a time where each daughter would receive my undivided attention.  I learned, as my daughters grew older, that this time was important to them as well.  Having this special time was one way of not being silent.

The greater challenge in raising my daughters has been day to day life.  Far too many dads start off well with their daughters.  However, when they become adolescents, the relationship with their dads sometimes weakens.   Their bodies, emotions, etc. are changing.  It can be a confusing and stressful time for a girl.  Dads don’t know what to do, so sometimes they pull away.  They back off and (unintentionally) create distance.  This is the last thing these girls need at this point in their lives.  By the way–I didn’t know what to do either.  Yet, I tried to stay connected while learning what to do.  No, it is not easy.  Still, it is so important to stay connected.

This is probably obvious but the issue of the silent male is much broader than a relationship with sons or daughters.  This silence can be a real difficult issue in marriage.  This silence can interfere with work.   This silence can get in the way of friendships.  Remember this is not about a change in personality.  Rather, it is a refusal to stay in the comfortable, safe rut of silence and passivity.

Everything I just wrote reflects years of my own intent and prayer.  At times, getting beyond silence has been difficult.  If this doesn’t "feel" natural for you, perhaps I can relate.  I will tell you that the Lord has blessed my imperfect attempt to stay connected with my daughters. 

Let me encourage you not to yield to the temptation to be silent.  You will bless your children by refusing to be silent and passive. This means being intentional.  By the grace of God and through much prayer, your children will be blessed.

What do you think?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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16 thoughts on “Why Are Men Often Silent? (Part 2)

  1. What a coincidence to read this — I’ve just started going out for breakfast with my 14-year-old daughter. You’re absolutely right: it can be a challenge to maintain a relationship when your little girl is becoming a young woman. The alternative, though, is to lose touch a critical time in her life. Thanks for your article.

  2. that’s precious. My husband, daddy to our 2 girls, started doing this with our oldest when she was just 2 years old. It was invaluable when our second came along and she needed to know she was still special and loved. Daddy has been through a trial by fire with his “quality time” love language wife who always has something to talk about, his “touch and quality time” love language preschooler who always has something to talk about and I think he’ll be ready when daughter 2 starts talking 😉 It’s a powerful thing, dad connecting with daughter..I know, it shaped me.

  3. I had similar moments with each of our children. They are both grown and out of the house, but if we go very many weeks (usually anything over 3 is too many) without seeing each other, I just take off and drive up to where Jessica lives to take her to lunch or dinner. We see Josh often enough, but I’d do the same to see him as well. During his senior year of college, we would have lunch together at least once a week, usually a couple of time. Best days of my life are days spent with my children.

  4. Thanks again Alan–and thanks for mentioning what you are doing with your 14 year old. Perhaps your comment will give some encouragment to do the same with their own daughters.

    Thanks for coming by this blog.

  5. Makeesha,
    Thanks for your comment and for coming by my blog. I commend your husband for what he has been doing with your daughters. Sounds as if you had a good experience with your dad as well.

    I just looked at your blog. Very nice!

  6. Greg,
    What a great comment! And–a reminder of way to stay connected with our children even as finish high school and move on. I suspect this will encourage some of us to make the effort to connect with adult children.

  7. Jim:

    I’ve really appreciated your last few posts. Being a father to our children involves so much more than fathering them!

    I agree with what you’ve written here, but would hasten to add that my experience (4 children: 3 boys: 24, 18, & 16; and, 1 girl: 14) has taught me that there is no substitute for spontaneity. Here’s where I’ll let you in on one of my secrets. Some of the most important conversations I’ve had with my kids have come as a result of a little “planned spontaneity”.

    My three sons have taught me that the “silent man” sometimes gets an early start. If we want to stop the cycle from repeating, we must start early.

    Well, that’s my two cents worth. God bless you, brother!

  8. Thanks Jim. I was recently with my six-year-old daughter at a Daisy Girl Scout field trip when I overheard her tell the leader, “Guess What. I’m going to lunch with my daddy today.” She didn’t know I was listening and her enthusiasm confirmed the importance of these “special days”–a tradition I started because of your influence years ago when you spoke of these times with your girls. I thought, “When I’m a father, I’m going to do that.” Friday I’m spending the day with my daughter. We’ll probably hike, watch cartoons, and eat ice cream. I look forward to these times as much as my kids do.

  9. My husband, Richard, worked 12 hours a day and missed some of the fun with our 3 daughters, but at bedtime he always sat with each of them and talked. He was very honest with them about teenaged boys (since he had been one) and when they had sex ed questions they went to him, not me. That was great for me and for him. I just listened.

  10. Wade,
    How wonderful! Your children are really blessed to have a dad like you. Thanks for letting all of us look over your shoulder for a moment. That was helpful.

  11. Dad…I liked this blog entry. I still enjoy going on special days with you. It is such a valuable block of time we spend together. I love you!