Dads, letting your daughter explore the world can be the best gift you can give her. Photo from National Geographic Creative Commons.
It’s natural for a father to be concerned about his children no matter where they are in the world, but it seems that travelin’ daughters can make for troubled dads. This Father’s Day, I’d like to give dads everywhere the gift of reassurance and let them know that nothing can be greater for the father-daughter relationship than to encourage her to travel. It’s hard when your children are far away from home and in unfamiliar lands and, yes, sometimes bad things happen. But dads needn’t be too troubled – traveling is one of the best things your daughter can do for her safety and well-being.
Safety and Strange Men
While dad might be worried about wannabe Romeos or more sinister characters, the sad reality is that the most dangerous man a woman can encounter – from a statistical point of view – is her own partner. While there have been some well-known, tragic cases this year in India and Istanbul, the truth is that the biggest threat to a woman’s safety is her own domestic partner. Traveling generates self-confidence and self-awareness, great attributes for staying safe anywhere, as well as for choosing a respectful domestic partner back home.
Alone versus Lonely
Some of the loneliest times of my life were when I was surrounded by crowds of people. Loneliness has nothing to do with how many people are around you and everything to do with an emotional state. Being alone can actually combat loneliness – you are motivated to make new connections, you have a chance to reflect on who you are, you can enjoy the simple pleasures in life. If you want your daughter to be surrounded by good people in life, to choose a job that fulfills her, and to have a partner who respects her, give her the opportunity to revel in her own company and learn to be happy alone.
Dads are right to be concerned if their daughters seem to be drifting aimlessly through life, but there is a big difference between needing some time to find yourself versus not having a dream or focus or interest. Dropping out of college or a career to travel can be a wonderful thing and a great way to launch a successful career in line with her passions. In our global community, travel is a real career asset – it proves her independence, creative thinking, and communication skills.
Many fathers feel uneasy about the relationship with their daughters. Conversations and laugher that flowed so easily when she was young now seem a bit more awkward when you are both adults. It’s not uncommon for fathers to feel their daughters will drift away even more and, for technology challenged dads who rely on face to face time to communicate, keeping in touch can be a real challenge. Be proactive on this matter. Take a computer class to brush up on email, Facebook, and Skype skills. Learn how to send photos as an attachment. And embrace what I call the $50 challenge. Transfer a surprise gift of $50 to your daughter with only one word of instruction. It might be “purple” or “fresco” or “chocolate”. Give it on the condition of receiving a full report and sit back and enjoy how she bought purple silk in Istanbul, did a Segway tour of Roman architecture, or shared chocolate with the kids on the train in Argentina.
Go Join Her!
Your daughter made the brave steps to see the world – how about you, Dad? It’s time to see her world! Why not join her for a week in Bangkok, Brisbane, or Boston? Or even just go away for a weekend a few hours from home? You will see your daughter with brand new eyes and will come to admire her daring, adventurous, spunky spirit – and maybe some of it will rub off on you as well