A Note to Dads: Say “I’d Choose You”
My daughter and I have a running joke. Except it’s not a joke at all. It was inspired by a children’s book by John Trent and following is a transcript of how that conversation might have gone the first time I said it.
“Ya know, Rae Anne, I’ve been thinking.”
“What daddy!” (As she hangs on my every word.)
“This is kind of crazy, but I’ve been thinking . . . I’ve been thinking that if they took all the six-year-old girls in the entire world and put them in one long line . . . I would choose . . . you!” (Her wide-eyed smile is followed by a tremendous hug.)
Little girls need to hear that kind of thing. When a dad says, “I’d choose you,” he’s not saying his daughter is perfect or never makes mistakes. He’s just saying that he’s glad she exists and that he enjoys spending time with her. It’s a confirmation of unconditional love. Dad might trade in his car or change jobs, but that daddy-daughter bond is unbreakable. In her first grade class, Chelsea may be taller, Becky may be smarter, and Sophia may be prettier, but she has heard it from his own mouth. Daddy would choose me.
After having a similar dialogue more than a dozen times during the grammar school years, the rhythm of the conversation changed, but the message was still the same.
“Hey, Rae, I’ve been thinking.”
“If they lined up all the nine-year-old girls in the whole world . . .”
“What would you do, Dad?” (Said with a slight smile and slight sigh.)
“I’d choose you.”
“Good to know, Dad.” (Said with a hint of sarcasm.)
Over the next few years slight variations on the theme emerge.
“Hey, Rae Anne, I’ve been thinking.” (No response) “If they lined up all the 12-year-old girls in the. . .”
“If they lined up all the 12-year-old girls in the whole world, you’d choose me. Got it, Dad. Check. Thanks.” (Said with a thicker slice sarcasm.)
Here’s one of my favorite variations.
“Hey, Rae, I’ve been thinking.”
“Tell me, Dad, I’m setting aside my algebra homework to hear exactly what you’ve been thinking.” (She doesn’t even look up.)
“If they lined up all the 15-year-old girls in the whole world . . .”
“You’d choose me.”
“No, actually I’d choose Ally. She’s a good daughter and uses slightly less sarcasm.”
Ally, as you might suspect, is Rae Anne’s best friend since they were toddlers. And, of course, I’m not proud that Rae Anne uses quite as much sarcasm as she does. I just wish I knew where she learned it. I’d strangle the scoundrel.
Anyway. Dad, when you find a phrase of encouragement or unconditional love that works, go ahead and say it loud and clear until it becomes second nature to your daughter. When she faces a challenge to your family’s core values, your words are going to echo in her head.
After years of bantering, I know that if and when Rae Anne is ever feeling undervalued or out of the loop – even if she’s thousands of miles away — a small part of her says, “That’s okay. I know my dad would choose me.”
“ A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11
Jay Payleitner is a radio producer, popular speaker and author of ten books including 52 Things Daughters Need from Their Dads and One-Minute Devotions for Dads. For more, go to jaypayleitner.com.