Yesterday, my daughter and I spent the afternoon together and she told me that she was in the middle of her first-ever broken heart. She had a crush on a young man in her class and they went on a date a while back. (Her first date ever)
My daughter is an introspective, thoughtful young woman. She wasn't in a hurry to get in a relationship, and at 14 I am thankful. She isn't needy like so many girls her age are. She isn't needy because from the day she entered this world, I have told her she was beautiful, she was smart, and that she was deeply loved. She has never had to look beyond her daddy to see her worth and to find a loving heart and so she has never had the hole in her that other girls have. She didn't rush into anything, and because of this, the boy sort of lost interest. Now he seems like a good kid so I don't think it was a case of her not being willing to do anything untoward, it was more a situation where I think he thought she just didn't dig him.
So apparently he moved on and found someone else. She found out this weekend that he has a girlfriend and it hurt her. So I did what a dad should do and I went into my Paul Dooley-in-"16 Candles"-mode (he played Molly Ringwald's dad and had the great conversation about "Oily Bohunks and why they call them crushes") and tried to comfort her. I gave her a big hug and it was the first time in a long time she hugged me back...for a long while. She needed her dad. Her mom can be her confidant in a situation like this but it's the hug of her dad that makes it better. A little girl learns her inner value from her father, and dads...that can't happen if you aren't there.
She was 18 months old when her mom and I divorced. There was more than one time when I thought about leaving and becoming a long distance dad. But my heart wouldn't permit it. I am glad I stayed. My daughter needed a bear hug from the first man who ever loved her and the only one who will love her all her life. She didn't need a phone call or a Skype visit. She needed ME...right THEN.
Men...your dreams and goals were shuffled into second place the moment you became a father. All our lives they will fight to regain primacy. Don't let that happen. Stay where you belong no matter how hard it is. Because in the end, your sons need to see manhood modeled by the first man they ever knew. And your daughters need their dad to hug them, and to remind them how beautiful they always have been and to make everything better.
Stand your ground.