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A father's advice to his daughter

A father's advice to his daughter

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Published by rlweisman
Fatherly advice to a daughter growing up
Fatherly advice to a daughter growing up

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Published by: rlweisman on May 14, 2009
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05/11/2014

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ForAlyson Bari WeismanWritten: March 21, 1997Revised: August 23, 1998Dearest Aly,I love you. These words are easily said, but just saying them is not enoughto truly communicate a father’s feelings. I want to set some of my thoughts downon paper for you to read and tuck away. I hope you will reread this letter in thefuture ... When you are off in college; when you are off on your own; when youmarry; and when I’m no longer around.Aly, I loved you from the first moment I saw you and held you in my arms.My first-born, my little girl has grown to the threshold of womanhood. What a joyit was to cradle you on my lap; to touch your tiny fingers; and stare into youreyes!All too soon, you took your first steps and toddled off to explore yoursurroundings. Before long, you will stride out confidently to make your mark onthe world. As parents, we want you to grow and mature, yet we still dread thetimes we have to let you go: Out of sight; beyond our control; off to school; awayto camp; out on your first solo drive. Until you are a parent yourself, you’llnever understand the tender anguish of these events. In the eagerness of youth,you breeze by these milestones with nary a look back. What will we do when youwave good-bye and go off to college? We must cherish our memories, trust yourjudgement and respect your needs – and cry bittersweet tears. Aly, it comforts meto know that you will always have these words of encouragement and guidance frommy heart.Mom and I watched you grow, sharing your childhood excitement, your triumphs andsetbacks. We always saw and felt the love reflected back in your sweet smile andbright eyes. I don’t know what you think of me as a father. You don’t oftenconfide in me (many teenagers don’t). Someday, when you’re ready, I know you’llopen up to share your inner thoughts and feelings and give us the benefit of yourown experiences. While I may not be the greatest dad in the world, or thewealthiest ... I hope you know how much I care, and how I’m trying my best for youand Holden. Seeing the fine young lady you have become, I know you have receivedthe riches of our hearts: Love, encouragement, a solid foundation of knowledge,and good counsel. These are wonderful gifts ... Look for them ... You’ll findthem whenever you open your school bag, your briefcase or your baby’s strollerbag.All parents have dreams and hopes for their children. We’ve tried to keep themhidden so as not to impose them on you. You have exceeded them all! You are apart of me and yet, unique. You are an individual, but your character shines withsome of the best and noblest traits of your family heritage: Grandpa Ed’s kindnessand compassion; Grandpa Jack’s honesty and common sense, Grandma Sylvia’s goodjudgement and devotion to family, and, yes, even Grandmother Janet's strong willand sharp wit. As you face life’s challenges, you will always have these innerresources to draw upon. Use them wisely. Be confident. Never doubt yourabilities, and never put yourself down. Don’t be afraid of success – welcome it,and wear the laurels you earn proudly.I especially want to tell you that I admire you. You have a strong moral compassand clearly defined values. Let these guide you, but try not to impose your value
 
system on others or expect them to live up to all of the high standards you setfor yourself. Maintain your own ethical/intellectual high ground. Don’t everstoop from that vantage or hide your abilities to be “liked” by your peers. Be aleader. Lead by example, and you will always have the respect and admiration ofothers. Remember, respect is a precious commodity that cannot be demanded orbought. It is given freely only to those who earn it. Be ambitious but never atthe expense of your peers, or associates. Keep your own firm convictions, but beflexible, open-minded, tactful and diplomatic. Life is not all black and white.Success in law or international relations will depend on your ability to discernfact from opinion and truth from falsehood to achieve viable solutions andhonorable compromises amid the many shades of gray. Gather knowledge, but do notmistake knowledge for wisdom. Gain understanding by observing subtle details andtruly listening. When you combine knowledge with understanding and compassionyou’ll possess wisdom.Happiness, too, is not an all-or-nothing proposition. As the “yin and yang” Zensymbol implies, there is always a little sorrow in happiness and vice-versa. Seekhappiness in peace of mind and harmony of spirit. Find joy and satisfaction inyour studies, your friendships, personal relationships and in family. Be anoptimist. Look for the best and brightest side of each situation you encounterand each person you meet. Be circumspect, but don’t be afraid to feel and showemotion. Work hard, and always keep an eye on your goals, but relax and have funtoo. Be careful though! (Sorry, I can’t help worrying about your health andwellbeing.) Indulge in moderation, never in excess. Every new freedom bringswith it new rewards, risks and responsibilities. Enjoy life and the marvels ofthe twenty-first century. Stop every so often to smell the roses.Smile! You have a beautiful smile. Be a giving person – give of yourselfemotionally and physically. Be affectionate – a gentle touch can move mountainsand lift the weight of the world. There are times, most times, when we must keepour emotions in check and many occasions when we must guard our thoughts, butavoid building emotional walls. Touch the world, and experience its wonders andbeauty.When you fall in love, and that love is returned in full and equal measure, showyour love with words, deeds, laughter and physical tenderness. True love and“love at first sight” really exist. It is a powerful experience that affectsbody, mind and spirit – you’ll know it when it happens.I hope you will finish your studies, establish your career and obtain financialindependence before you marry. When you do find your true love, I hope you bothenter the relationship as equals who share the same values and ideals. Look forsomeone with a sense of humor – a high achiever, who is bright, creative,sensitive and practical (like your dad). Be partners in marriage and friends too.Never abandon your career or your beliefs for the sake of your spouse. Try not tobe too judgmental or critical of your husband. Always build him up, but never atyour own expense. Encourage him, and ignore his minor faults. Don’t sweat thesmall stuff. Listen to him, and make him feel that he is the most important manin the world (except your dad). Always greet him with a kind word, a smile and akiss. This will lift the weight of the world from his shoulders – a burden hethinks he’s bearing alone. Save the day’s problems until after you’ve bothunwound. Agree with him in most decisions, and let him make mistakes. You canalways disagree and diplomatically change decisions later. However, stand yourground on major issues. Never go to bed angry. Argue fairly, expressing yourfeelings without judging his. Always talk things out. If all else fails getundressed – it’s hard to argue with a naked person. Give each other emotionalspace. Enjoy life together, but don’t be afraid to pursue your own interestsindependently. Be flexible and forgiving. Men tend to make more mistakes. Don’tnag or keep bringing up his faults – criticize fairly and constructively. It’s
 
easy to ignore nagging, but sweetness and kindness cannot be easily dismissed orforgotten. NEVER tolerate physical or emotional abuse confront it immediately.If it happens more than once – LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! Don’t ever blame yourself ormake excuses for it. I’m here for you whenever and wherever you need me. Yourmom, your brother and I will respond instantly to any trouble you have – noquestions asked.Always look out for Holden. He loves you, and you both share a special emotionalbond. Your mom and I have always been proud of the way you look out for eachother. Remember that Holden will be there for you long after we are gone. Neverlose touch with one another, and communicate as often as possible. Share all yourhappy occasions together, and cling to each other whenever sorrow, disappointment,sickness or doubt trouble you.Aly, you are beautiful inside and out, and you’ve got a bright, exciting futureahead of you. Don’t be too conservative. Be creative, and take prudent riskswhen necessary. Follow through on any project or venture you undertake. Don’tquit if the going gets tough – If it’s worthy of your effort, see it through.You’ve got what it takes to succeed, but don’t be too proud to ask for help if youneed it.G-d has blessed us with you and blessed you with a lovely personality and spirit.I hope someday you will return to and fully appreciate your religious heritage.Always be proud that you are a Jew. Never forget that your great grandparentsdied for their belief. I wish you come to know the comfort, strength and joy ofthe Torah. “Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.”Hopefully, when you raise a family of your own, you will share and pass on themany great values and traditions of Jewish life and law. Without Torah, prayerand faith in G-d, I would never have survived my life’s troubles anddisappointments. I believe in G-d and the redeeming power of prayer and mitzvahs.Do good deeds, give to charity, help those in need and serve your community.Having high moral values is meaningless if they are kept to yourself.When you look back on your years with us at home, you will realize that most of mystartling, bizarre or anti-social comments were made in jest. They were intendedto spark your indignation with humor and sarcasm. As you reflect on ourconversations, you’ll see that I share your love of truth and social justice.Often, hypocrisy, inequity or stupidity can best be skewered with wit. Forgivethe ruse, but through all my acting and your re-acting – you turned out OK.Time passes so quickly! Enjoy your childhood, and cherish your family ties.Don’t let present opportunities slip away to become future regrets. Take time toshare your feelings, dreams or worries with mom and I while we are still near.You’ll be off on your own soon enough. We both love hearing about your friends ornew experiences, no matter how trivial they seem. What you may think is aninsignificant detail can be a precious moment for a parent. When you are away atschool, communicate with us often over any and all media. We will miss youterribly when your presence is no longer a constant in our lives.Whenever you see us, linger a while to hug and kiss us a little longer ... so wecan mend the part of our hearts that aches with each joyous hello or painful good-bye. “Sweet dreams”, Aly. Rest assured, the bonds between us will never bediminished by time or distance. To paraphrase Christina Rosetti’s Poem: "Remember me when I am far away ... When I can no more hold you by the hand. Yetif you should forget me, for a while ... And afterward remember, do not grieve;For if my absence leaves a vestige of the thoughts that once I had, better by far

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