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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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For Alyson Bari Weisman Written: March 21, 1997 Revised: August 23, 1998 Dearest Aly, I love you.

These words are easily said, but just to truly communicate a father’s feelings. I want to set on paper for you to read and tuck away. I hope you will future ... When you are off in college; when you are off marry; and when I’m no longer around. saying them is not enough some of my thoughts down reread this letter in the on your own; when you

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 joy it was to cradle you on my lap; to touch your tiny fingers; and stare into your eyes! All too soon, you took your first steps and toddled off to explore your surroundings. Before long, you will stride out confidently to make your mark on the world. As parents, we want you to grow and mature, yet we still dread the times we have to let you go: Out of sight; beyond our control; off to school; away to camp; out on your first solo drive. Until you are a parent yourself, you’ll never 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 you wave good-bye and go off to college? We must cherish our memories, trust your judgement and respect your needs – and cry bittersweet tears. Aly, it comforts me to know that you will always have these words of encouragement and guidance from my heart. Mom and I watched you grow, sharing your childhood excitement, your triumphs and setbacks. We always saw and felt the love reflected back in your sweet smile and bright eyes. I don’t know what you think of me as a father. You don’t often confide in me (many teenagers don’t). Someday, when you’re ready, I know you’ll open up to share your inner thoughts and feelings and give us the benefit of your own experiences. While I may not be the greatest dad in the world, or the wealthiest ... I hope you know how much I care, and how I’m trying my best for you and Holden. Seeing the fine young lady you have become, I know you have received the riches of our hearts: Love, encouragement, a solid foundation of knowledge, and good counsel. These are wonderful gifts ... Look for them ... You’ll find them whenever you open your school bag, your briefcase or your baby’s stroller bag. All parents have dreams and hopes for their children. We’ve tried to keep them hidden so as not to impose them on you. You have exceeded them all! You are a part of me and yet, unique. You are an individual, but your character shines with some of the best and noblest traits of your family heritage: Grandpa Ed’s kindness and compassion; Grandpa Jack’s honesty and common sense, Grandma Sylvia’s good judgement and devotion to family, and, yes, even Grandmother Janet's strong will and sharp wit. As you face life’s challenges, you will always have these inner resources to draw upon. Use them wisely. Be confident. Never doubt your abilities, 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 compass and 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 set for yourself. Maintain your own ethical/intellectual high ground. Don’t ever stoop from that vantage or hide your abilities to be “liked” by your peers. Be a leader. Lead by example, and you will always have the respect and admiration of others. Remember, respect is a precious commodity that cannot be demanded or bought. It is given freely only to those who earn it. Be ambitious but never at the expense of your peers, or associates. Keep your own firm convictions, but be flexible, open-minded, tactful and diplomatic. Life is not all black and white. Success in law or international relations will depend on your ability to discern fact from opinion and truth from falsehood to achieve viable solutions and honorable compromises amid the many shades of gray. Gather knowledge, but do not mistake knowledge for wisdom. Gain understanding by observing subtle details and truly listening. When you combine knowledge with understanding and compassion you’ll possess wisdom. Happiness, too, is not an all-or-nothing proposition. As the “yin and yang” Zen symbol implies, there is always a little sorrow in happiness and vice-versa. Seek happiness in peace of mind and harmony of spirit. Find joy and satisfaction in your studies, your friendships, personal relationships and in family. Be an optimist. Look for the best and brightest side of each situation you encounter and each person you meet. Be circumspect, but don’t be afraid to feel and show emotion. Work hard, and always keep an eye on your goals, but relax and have fun too. Be careful though! (Sorry, I can’t help worrying about your health and wellbeing.) Indulge in moderation, never in excess. Every new freedom brings with it new rewards, risks and responsibilities. Enjoy life and the marvels of the twenty-first century. Stop every so often to smell the roses. Smile! You have a beautiful smile. Be a giving person – give of yourself emotionally and physically. Be affectionate – a gentle touch can move mountains and lift the weight of the world. There are times, most times, when we must keep our emotions in check and many occasions when we must guard our thoughts, but avoid building emotional walls. Touch the world, and experience its wonders and beauty. When you fall in love, and that love is returned in full and equal measure, show your love with words, deeds, laughter and physical tenderness. True love and “love at first sight” really exist. It is a powerful experience that affects body, mind and spirit – you’ll know it when it happens. I hope you will finish your studies, establish your career and obtain financial independence before you marry. When you do find your true love, I hope you both enter the relationship as equals who share the same values and ideals. Look for someone 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 to be too judgmental or critical of your husband. Always build him up, but never at your own expense. Encourage him, and ignore his minor faults. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Listen to him, and make him feel that he is the most important man in the world (except your dad). Always greet him with a kind word, a smile and a kiss. This will lift the weight of the world from his shoulders – a burden he thinks he’s bearing alone. Save the day’s problems until after you’ve both unwound. Agree with him in most decisions, and let him make mistakes. You can always disagree and diplomatically change decisions later. However, stand your ground on major issues. Never go to bed angry. Argue fairly, expressing your feelings without judging his. Always talk things out. If all else fails get undressed – it’s hard to argue with a naked person. Give each other emotional space. Enjoy life together, but don’t be afraid to pursue your own interests independently. Be flexible and forgiving. Men tend to make more mistakes. Don’t nag or keep bringing up his faults – criticize fairly and constructively. It’s

easy to ignore nagging, but sweetness and kindness cannot be easily dismissed or forgotten. NEVER tolerate physical or emotional abuse – confront it immediately. If it happens more than once – LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! Don’t ever blame yourself or make excuses for it. I’m here for you whenever and wherever you need me. Your mom, your brother and I will respond instantly to any trouble you have – no questions asked. Always look out for Holden. He loves you, and you both share a special emotional bond. Your mom and I have always been proud of the way you look out for each other. Remember that Holden will be there for you long after we are gone. Never lose touch with one another, and communicate as often as possible. Share all your happy 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 future ahead of you. Don’t be too conservative. Be creative, and take prudent risks when necessary. Follow through on any project or venture you undertake. Don’t quit 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 you need 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 grandparents died for their belief. I wish you come to know the comfort, strength and joy of the 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 the many great values and traditions of Jewish life and law. Without Torah, prayer and faith in G-d, I would never have survived my life’s troubles and disappointments. 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 my startling, bizarre or anti-social comments were made in jest. They were intended to spark your indignation with humor and sarcasm. As you reflect on our conversations, you’ll see that I share your love of truth and social justice. Often, hypocrisy, inequity or stupidity can best be skewered with wit. Forgive the 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 to share 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 or new experiences, no matter how trivial they seem. What you may think is an insignificant detail can be a precious moment for a parent. When you are away at school, communicate with us often over any and all media. We will miss you terribly 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 we can mend the part of our hearts that aches with each joyous hello or painful goodbye. “Sweet dreams”, Aly. Rest assured, the bonds between us will never be diminished 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. Yet if 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

you should forget and smile, than remember and be sad.” Aly, reach for the stars, and if you stumble, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, keep smiling, and be content to be the best you can be. XXXOOO Mom & Dad Robert L Weisman, Skokie IL

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