Dear Dads, Today we celebrate all you are and all you've been in our lives. You've played tea-party, let us dance on your feet, kissed scrapes, scared away would-be suitors, and provided lingering hugs as we set off for college/our first jobs/marriage/motherhood. And if you haven't done all those things yet, you will very soon. So whether you're a seasoned papa with three grown daughters or a brand new daddy with a tiny baby still in your arms, here are some reasons you should encourage your little girl to travel.
To Support Our Independence
You've been there for us whenever we've needed something. We've depended on you to catch us when we've gone out on a limb and you've provided the comfort of a safety net if we should fail or fall. But there comes a time when you have to let go of our hand, take off our training wheels, and let us get out there and take the hits the world can deliver. So teach us about booking a flight, drop us at the international departures terminal, tell us you love us, and let us find our own footing in the world. It won't always be easy - expect frantic calls in the middle of the night from some abandoned train station in France. Just tell us to take a deep breath and help us figure out the next move. But remember that we need to see our own perseverance and intuition get us through some tough spots. So don't call every day and don't always give us the answer…we need the space to fall down and pick ourselves up again. You'll respect us more…and more importantly, we'll respect ourselves.
To Let Us Fight the Boogie Man We're strong. You raised us to be strong, to stick up for others and not be afraid to challenge ourselves or the wrong we see in the world. Encourage us to get out and confront the boogie man beyond our hometowns or home countries. We need to see the difference between things that are just "a little different" and the things that are "truly scary and wrong." Seeing the world through our own eyes with just our cameras, journals, and packs on our backs is the only way we'll be able to learn to fight our own battles and the battles of those who are weaker than us. We're strong. We're like you. Smile when we say we're ready to go out there and change the world and fight some big battles. Just ask us "where to?"
To Help Us Discover Our Family Outside Our Family As much as mastering our own independence is important, you also know that we're going out into the big bad world and we're gonna need a posse. You can't be there for us every step of the way or in every moment of the day. We need to find the people, our people, who come into our lives, become our inner circle, and morph into a de facto family - a family we choose. We need to create and depend on a support network outside of you. When we travel to distant places and meet intriguing characters, we learn to discern between the fleeting acquaintences and the dependable life-long friends. Don't worry…they won't replace you, but we will misjudge people that's for sure. We'll be hurt, disappointed, and left in strange cities by people we thought we could trust. But that's okay because remember, we're tough. It's all part of us becoming the best version of ourselves that you've always known was there.
To Develop Our Skills and Discover New Ones There's something enchanting about the possibilities of a world unknown. And we don't know ourselves yet, let alone the world. Push us to see ourselves through a different lens, through a different language, through a different culture. We may find something inside ourselves that couldn't have been uncovered through a world full of comfort, support, and predictability. You know the challenge, that big hill in front of us is the thing that's going to teach us the most about who we are, the value we hold, and what we're capable of achieving. We know you're scared to see us hurt or to fall or to fail or to cry. But we're going to do all these things regardless…help us do it with dignity, discovery, and an open mind and heart.
To Understand Heartbreak Let's be real. This will happen without having to travel, but the heartbreak of travel is it's own special kind of pain. It's not just about the lost lovers or future partners or the ones that got away. It's also about the incredible stories of people in places and situations so different (and likely worse) than our own. Travel lets us see our seat of privilege in the world and will inspire us to write postcards from far off lands where we apologize for all those times we got so upset for something silly like getting the wrong brand of blue jeans. The heartbreak will inspire our humility and conjure our dissatisfaction with the inequalities of the world. And through all the pain, we'll come back to you, give you a big hug, and tell you how we're going to change the world.
To See the Magic Within You've seen it in us from the moment you held a little swaddled bundle of joy. And we see it in your eyes every time we make you smile or chuckle or furious with frustration. We know the magic you see in us. And we're almost capable of seeing it ourselves, but we need to explore, to venture out and see it in ourselves. And that likely won't happen until we've experiencing lost passports, amazing meals, scary taxi rides, heated conversations, missed connections, and 'lost in translation' moments that are in our future. Our magic lies within, and you know that, but we probably won't believe it or see it until we've chased it around the globe. So smile, give us hug, drop us at international departures, and slip a twenty in our pocket.
You've given us everything else we need.
From all the international women of mystery out there…Happy Father's Day.
For more inspiring Father-Daughter letters, check out Letters from Dad, a Time Magazine partnership with LeanIn.org.
*Image found here