Fathers and Daughters, cont.
The Core of Masculinity

The core of masculinity does not derive from being male,
nor friendliness from those who console.

Your old grandmother says,
"Maybe you shouldn't go to school.
You look a little pale."

Run when you hear that.
A father's stern slaps are better.

Your bodily soul wants comforting.
The severe father wants spiritual clarity.
He scolds, but eventually
leads you into the open.

Pray for a tough instructor
to hear and act and stay within you.

We have been busy accumulating solace.
Make us afraid of how we were.

Something strong has to evolve in a father's heart...
something that may feel harsh at times to the daughter.

A father must give the space of the child up
or else be swamped with sentimentality.
He must risk upsetting her.

Fathering is an art...
I have been imperfect at fathering.
A father will wound you..
to bring you to a better place.

Sometimes the wounding is too harsh!
And the children get left alone...this is not good.

We need openness and understanding.
However, we also need to be able to combat the things
that are negatively affecting our children.
We do say things our children do not like.

What I like about this poem of Rumi's is how a father
can be severe but he brings his child out into the open.
So many times we can be harsh with our children
and then we leave them in the mess
and don't help them get to a better place.

If we are going to accept the authority of being tough
with our children, at times...
then we also must accept the responsibility
to bring them into the open.
This means involvement and travailing with them...

Some final thoughts on being with our daughters...

Swimming with you as far as is needed.
I will disappoint you and let you down.
Seeing the fierce winds that blow, I will wrap you warm.
You are my best piece of poetry.
I was transformed by being at your birth.
I took you in my hands and blest  you.
I have walked and prayed for you.
I have sought tenderness--the ability to "stretch" towards you.
This blessing of love gives again and again into my arms.
An unending ache of love.
Making fires to keep warm by.
Steering through the vicious seas of bitter times.
Being okay with "not knowing" and silence.
Being empty and finding grace and prayers.
You and I can hurt each other.
We cross from one to the other--only on a bridge of grief.
Please forgive me.