My older sister has a daughter who is just two months older than my 16 year old son. My older brother has a daughter that is about six months older than my stepdaughter, a son my oldest boy's age, and a stepdaughter two years older. It is a real pleasure when all of the cousins are together since they are in a comfortably tight age range. They can talk about high school, middle school, college, jobs, you name it.
|Mean and Scary Uncle David
Six years ago, I met my wife, who has a son and daughter. My loving wife explained to me that teasing little girls wasn't fun for them, and it didn't bode well for my popularity. When I asked my wife to marry me, I realized that it was of the highest priority that I learn how to act like a father to her daughter. It may sound corny, or the writing material of family film comedies, but learning to be the father of a daughter was something that I lacked experience with entirely. I had moved my family out of town in 2000 and only saw my parents, brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, etc. on family occasions and holidays. When I would see my nieces, they would give me the standard issue shrug n' hug that you teach your kids to give their relatives in order to be respectful. It wasn't their fault, I just hadn't cultivated a quality relationship with them since they always knew me as "Mean Uncle David".
However, while in a new marriage, my wife made it very clear to me how important it was for me to learn how to react to my step-daughter's behavior with sensitivity, compassion, and understanding. This may sound simple and inherent behavior, but for me it was something that I would have to learn. Now, don't think that I am some ogre, I really do have a soft chewy center, but it was a set of behaviors that I had to acclimate myself. In retrospect, I feel that I took to it quite naturally (my wife may disagree) and really enjoyed the new perspective in parenting. I learned how to spend quality time, one on one, on seemingly simple activities; that surprisingly turned out to be very special. Sometimes it would be going out together to buy a pair of shoes for a special occasion, dropping her off at a birthday party, shopping for Mother's Day gifts, reading together before bed, or something as seemingly mundane as blow-drying and brushing her hair before bedtime (surprisingly the most special time of all).
|Daddy and Daughter Dance
Childish banter, hi jinx, and Tom-Foolery don't make good impressions with female coworkers or subordinates. Even in high school, teenage girls were never impressed with the stupid and immature behavior that teenage boys would exhibit while with one another cutting up. There is a whole article, or even more that could be devoted to the intricacies and nuances of supervising in a diverse environment, so I have no intention of stretching this one out any further.
To sum it up, in part I have learned how to become a better supervisor and manager, because I had the challenge put to me to become a better parent. I recently gave a speech at a special occasion for my daughter. During that speech, I thanked her for the gift that she gave me. That gift wasnt just her love and affection, but the more priceless opportunity to be the father of a daughter.