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Live Life Fully: Daddies, daughters and daring to heal

By Linda Arnold

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- What is it about daddies and daughters?

As I've been reflecting around this Father's Day, I'm reminded of this special bond. And evidence has been popping up everywhere.

Last week, I took part in a charity fashion show, and some of the models were little kids. I watched with amazement as several doting fathers acted as "handlers" for their little girls. I rode in an elevator with a 6-foot-4 dad and his pintsize daughter. What a contrast: He was carrying a mini bathing suit and her other items with such pride. I made a friendly comment about her, and he looked on with adoring eyes as he said, "She's really special."

I also get the opportunity to witness the doting behavior of the dads connected to our workplace toward their daughters. All I've got to say is that Mackenzie, Gabrielle, Kendra, Melissa, Jillian and Aubrey sure are lucky girls! That goes for our corporate sons too, but that's another column.

You've probably seen those greeting cards that portray baby girls as princesses -- with their dads wrapped around their little fingers. And it seems to have a lasting effect.

I went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago, and the father of the bride mentioned in his touching toast that he used to hold his little girl's hand to guide her along -- and that the next thing he knew, she'd turned into a young woman.

This may be your first Father's Day without your dad. If that's the case, my heart goes out to you. That's a hole in your soul that's hard to fill. It's been 19 years for me.

Or, maybe your dad is still living, but you've grown apart. The reality of today's blended families often puts a strain on family-of-origin relationships. Grudges develop and harden over time.

Resentment can also set in, due to hardships revolving around family caregiving, financial pressures or ongoing sibling rivalry.

Whatever the reason, if you find yourself or a friend or family member in this boat on this Father's Day and you wish the situation were different, it's helpful to note somebody has to make the first move.

You may be keeping score, thinking it's up to the other person to make the move. Funny thing, though, the other party -- whether it's your dad, his wife, your daughter or other siblings/children blocking the way -- may very well be thinking the same thing about you.

Which reminds me of the old saying, "Holding resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to get sick."

It doesn't really matter who makes the first move. What matters is that somebody takes that step.

If you're contemplating this, and hoping future Father's Days could be different, I have one word of caution: Go into the situation with your eyes open, and don't expect anything in return.

I realize this is easier said than done. You'll never know the reward if you don't take the risk. If you expect the reward, though, you may be disappointed. And that's what could be keeping you frozen in fear.

When the pain of being estranged becomes stronger than your pride and your need to be "right," you'll know. And then making that phone call or sending that email may not seem as painful.

You may even want to send this article and a note requesting a convenient time for a phone chat. In addition to breaking the ice, it puts the decision in the other person's court. Both of you will have taken some risk and put "skin in the game."

And to those daughters -- and sons -- who don't have their daddies anymore, I'll leave you with part of a Facebook post from a childhood neighbor of mine, Michael Della Mea.

Dear Dad,

I thought of you today, but that is nothing new.

I thought of you yesterday -- and days before that, too.

I think of you in silence. I often speak your name.

All I have are memories -- and a picture in a frame.

Your memory's a keepsake from which I'll never part.

God has you in his arms; I have you in my heart.

Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to livelifefully@arnoldagency.com.


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