Shower The People You Love

 In Family, Fred's Blog, Fred's Blog, Relationships, Travel
Listen to “Shower the People You Love” by Fred Smith

 

An article in the Baylor Magazine investigates the factors in father-daughter relationships that make the most difference. These are called “turning points” and when asked what key experiences improved closeness in their relationships both fathers and daughters mentioned events typical of those that you normally think of as helping to cement father-son friendships. The most frequently mentioned turning points by daughters and fathers alike were participating together in sports, work and vacations.

It’s really a wonder I have any relationship with my two daughters at all given those results! Neither of them showed much interest in sports and that suited me just fine. I have no hobbies and don’t follow any favorite teams or play fantasy football. While I love the idea of fly fishing, I have never fished – although I have read eight books on it and watched “A River Runs Through It” many times. I even wear fly fishing shirts.

Working together? It was a slow start. Early on, I separated my work and the family but, over time, the girls attended the conferences and began to travel with me out of the country.  While The Gathering is not a family business, they both came to understand my work and to be part of the community in various ways.  Today, they are wise counsel and sounding boards.

Vacations? It got better a few years ago but the girls have pictures of me on the phone at Disneyland and the beach. I’m not proud of that but I did finally turn loose of working vacations about five years ago when they were, unfortunately, already out of the house and on their own.

But there was one last mention of an activity that brought fathers and daughters together – road trips. I couldn’t believe it when I read it!

“The first time I really talked with my dad, I was 6 years old. We took a road trip together and talked about everything,” one woman wrote. Road trips? Perfect. I had that one nailed.

When the girls were younger, I started taking them on road trips for Father’s Day. I told them it was my gift to myself. It was just the three of us for three days wherever they wanted to go within a five-hour drive. This was before mobile phones so it was the three of us uninterrupted and all by ourselves.

We never went to exotic places. We just spent time together with no plans or schedule. We found things to do wherever we were. The first year we found a “rustic” cabin by a lake and sat up late watching O.J. Simpson drive slowly down the freeway in Los Angeles. The next year we went to Natchez, Mississippi. I wanted to take a historical tour of homes on a double-decker bus and they put up with me. It was 100 degrees and sweltering humidity.  We saw plays in Dallas, a Barbie doll show in Tulsa, and stockyards and botanical gardens in Ft. Worth. We got lost in the woods and nearly drowned in a small boat when a sudden storm swept over a lake in Arkansas. Some of these their mother may be learning about for the first time reading this.

When people ask what one thing you would risk your life to save if your house were on fire I know exactly what that is: A box with pictures and quotes about being a good father pasted all over it from our trip to Houston.

We put those trips on hold several years ago when their busy lives and obligations made it impossible to work out. However, all three of us said we would love to do it again when our lives allowed. This last weekend we did just that! Catherine and Haley surprised me with tickets to a James Taylor concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It was everything I could have imagined and then some. Toward the close, he sang one of my favorites: “Shower The People.” Sitting there on a cloudless night in Los Angeles I knew the lyrics were true for us. “Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way that you feel.”

Obviously, I didn’t score very well on sports, work or vacations but those trips were turning points for this father and his daughters. In fact, if I could give fathers of daughters one piece of advice it would be to do the same. Don’t sit around on Father’s Day. Get in the car with your girls and head somewhere. It really doesn’t matter where.

Just be together.

Fred Smith
Fred Smith is a graduate of Denver University and Harvard Divinity School. He spent several years as teacher and administrator at Charlotte Christian School and The Stony Brook School before co-founding Leadership Network with Bob Buford and serving as President for 12 years. Fred is the Founder and President of The Gathering, an international association of individuals, families and private foundations giving to Christian ministries. Fred will tell you his true vocation is that of a Sunday School teacher and it is this role for which he would most like to be remembered. Fred and his wife, Carol, have two grown daughters and a son-in-law. They also have three well-loved grandchildren.
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Showing 16 comments
  • Dianne Moore
    Reply

    that’s the BEST!!

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      The best? Well, I guess that means I can take a sabbatical now. I was going to title it “Shower With The People You Love” just to see if anyone caught it.

  • Nan Moore
    Reply

    Beautiful!

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, Nan. I ran across something I wrote a few years ago about the Women’s Building. I need to come down and see what you all are doing.

  • Connor Skelly
    Reply

    Beautiful post, Fred! I especially appreciate your blog posts that offer family advice. As Kristy and I start our family, it is easy to get caught up on all the tactical parenting tips and lose sight of simple, profound truths. Shower the people you love with love. Spend simple, quality, uninterrupted time together.

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, Connor. I wish I could say it was well planned but, as most things, it was spur of the moment that turned into a tradition. It’s huge for us now.

  • Howard
    Reply

    I was showered all right – with stuff. That’s not the kind of showering we want. Interesting that “douche” in French means “shower.”

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      That must be why I like the Hebrew so much better. mit’kalachat

  • Annette Oltmans
    Reply

    Thank you Fred. I’m at a similar life stage as you are. For many years in my area there has been an unspoken pressure to rack up vacations to exotic places, often with other local families. On the one hand, this illustrates the benefits where time and financial freedoms are plentiful. On the other hand, I have watched over a generation, where so often parents gather together and the children gather together with little interaction between age groups. One year it may be the soccer group and the next the popular group. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, however you’re post stands as a powerful reminder. Road trips, where one’s own family is locked in the car together might solve the worlds problems for a moment, or reminisce about long-gone family members, or learn the words to a favorite pop song. These experiences do so much to serve the development and strengthening of interpersonal connections in one’s family. I’ve been a grand parent for a few years now. I’m going to remember this post as I plan this summer vacation. It will be thoughtfully planned………God bless you.

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Yes, we always felt a little twinge of guilt or resentment or envy when most of the girls’ friends went to Switzerland to ski instead of Colorado. They went to the south of France for Spring Break instead of Arkansas. It all seemed so normal to them and I suppose it is. I’m not one to say our kids should not have nice experiences but if we only separate ourselves from them when we get there then it’s not really a family activity, is it? How much is too much?

  • John Hufman
    Reply

    Thanks for the good word Fred. I followed the Charlie Shedd advice and had a once a month breakfast or lunch “date” alone with each of my three daughters from early childhood until they left for university plus every so often took each one separately on an out of town speaking engagement. It has paid rich personal dividends!

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      I am not even in your league, John! That is truly remarkable and it does not surprise me at all.

  • Lisa
    Reply

    OH…Thank you,Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Fred….😍👆!! My love to Carol, and your precious daughters Haley and Catherine 🤗❤️❤️. God is gracious, and I am so grateful that He redeems my mistakes…

    Lisa

  • Norma
    Reply

    Great to read such a sweet account of fatherhood. How all is well in your life.

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