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JUNE 24, 2023

/ Articles / GirlDad

by Jay Payleitner

Insight for Girl Dads: God Bless the Differences

     When I consider Rae Anne—and when you consider your own daughter—let’s admit that there are a few things about them that drive us crazy.

     With Rae, it’s a short list, and I won’t be going into detail. But daughters and dads will always have differences. After all, we’re looking at the realities of life from different perspectives. We’re different genders, born decades apart into vastly different worlds, and have different gifts and experiences. If we accept that fact, I believe those differences can actually bring a vibrancy to our relationship.

     Consider the amazing diversity God has woven into all of creation and how that makes our lives so much richer. If our kids were our clones, what fun would that be?

     Even though you and your daughter are quite different, the goal is to share a sense of honor and integrity that goes beyond human understanding. When you’re in the same room, you should be able to look at each other and trust that both of you have each other’s best interests in mind. Even if you’re in disagreement about a minor issue, the mutual conviction is that love, respect, honesty, and faith will prevail.

     I am confident that at the end of the day and the end of our lives, Rae Anne and I will always know that we’re there for each other. I pray that same secure feeling for you and your daughter.

Rae Anne’s Reality Check

     While living vicariously through your children is not something I will ever advise a parent to do, what I do encourage you to do is embrace the new perspective that having a child, particularly a daughter, will give you.

     Now, I am not a parent. I do not claim to understand what it means to have a child. What I do know is what it was like for ten-year-old Rae Anne (the youngest child in her family) to hold her first newborn foster brother in her arms for the first time. I recall feeling a natural protective instinct, anger at the kind of world that would take this baby’s home and health from him, and marveling at the way his chest would rise up and down. I know what it was like when my nieces and nephews entered my life. Christmas was full of magic again, the future was full of potential, and my love was inexplicably infinite. I know what it is like to watch my brothers bring their children home and to see these men I have known my entire life change before my eyes.

     Having a child, having a daughter, changes you. So my advice is to let it. And then rise to the challenge in front of you—the grand challenge of being the most important man in your little girl’s life. The beautiful challenge of helping to shape her world. The vital challenge of equipping her for the life she is destined for.

     Be the best version of yourself. Be the adult you needed when you were kid. Be the dad she deserves. Do the work. Do it for her.

About My Dad

     While my dad lists above all the ways he and I are different, the truth is we are quite similar. Sometimes that is the best thing about our relationship, and oftentimes it is the hardest thing. But when I look back at my life and the relationship we have, what I see is change. Over the years we have both grown and transformed into a dozen different versions of ourselves. With that came some harsh doses of reality on both sides. He is not a superhero anymore, and I am not a perfect little girl.

     But superheroes and perfect little girls are boring, and they don’t exist. Instead, we get to be real people who love each other in the midst of pain, support each other while enduring failure, and challenge each other while in conflict. Which also means we get to be the people who rejoice in each other’s successes, thrive in each other’s company, and find comfort in each other’s friendship.

     It looks like I get to have the last word here in our book. And I will gladly take it to give you one last charge, one last promise: Dad, the best is yet to come.

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

—Micah 6:8

Listen to our interview with Jay and Rae Anne Payleitner on SBE here!

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