This may seem unusual for a Marine. If you ever read The Great Santini (which is worth a read), I hope you never see any of him in me. This may also sound unusual for a Marine: I want to make sure you grow up in a loving environment. I want you to know that your father loves you and always will. I don’t want you ever to be afraid of coming to me and sharing your thoughts, feelings, opinions. Or your favorite book. I know I may want to regret saying this as soon as you hit those teen years, but this feeling will never truly change. If I raise my voice to you once a day, as it seems I’ve been doing lately, this environment will fade. If I raise my voice to you repeatedly, I may begin to yell, and eventually find myself grasping for a branch as I plummet down that slope.
This may be overly dramatic, but falling into such traps is a great fear of mine. Sure, I could intimidate you and force you to obey. But I would rather lead you to the right path, even as a two year-old. I am your father and in a position of authority, but I can build our relationship around love and mutual respect so we can grow and learn together. I will always choose your willful obedience over fearful reluctance, even if it means a more difficult path for me. Raising my voice has worked. And it has been easy. When I can’t think of anything else to do at the moment, or my patience has ended, a louder, lower timbre seems instinctive. I need to realize the ways of coercing you to do what I ask, before I get in those frustrating situations. What I need to do is work on “the sum of those qualities of intellect, human understanding, and moral character that enables [me] to inspire and control [my girls] successfully." John Lejeune may have long since passed, and his words may have been intended for leaders of Marines, but they certainly apply to a father who loves his girls.
There will be more times when you frustrate me. (And trust me, I will frustrate you too, especially when I wear my Members Only jacket around your friends.) I may lose my cool. God-willing I won’t. I am, after all, the adult. I am the one with the experience and responsibility to do my best for my family. I will always strive to foster a loving relationship between both my girls. Because if there is one thing I love, it’s when you sit on my lap with your doggy book for us to read together. That’s something I’m not willing to let go. And neither is that jacket.