Tag Archives: family relationships

Five Rules for Dads Raising Daughters

I’ve been reading a lot of books and blogs lately on fatherhood and raising girls. From what I’ve read, there seems to be at least five common threads (probably more) running through most of the stuff that really speaks to me. Maybe they’re not really rules. Maybe they’re more like tips… tips, hints, suggestions, guidelines, or something like that. Whatever you call them, in no particular order, here are five:

1. Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Good or bad, that’s just the way it is. I’d prefer good.
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Who Inspires You?

In today’s society where phrases like “fear of commitment” and “starter marriage” are all too normative, I am inspired by married couples who have persevered through difficult circumstances or otherwise made the deliberate decision to be committed to their spouse and their family.

As you may know, my days are spent overseeing relationship education services and supports to couples and individuals through The Oklahoma Marriage Initiative.  As a part of that project, we partner with Oklahoma Publishing Company to make a commitment of our own….to recognize couples across Oklahoma who have beat the odds by sticking together for better and worse.

Last year, we searched for Oklahoma’s most inspiring couples through a statewide nomination process and produced an amazing calendar honoring these couples.  Now, we are actively seeking nominations for 2011’s most inspiring couples.

Do you know a couple who exhibits extraordinary traits such as team work, commitment, or has lived a life of infectious fun?  Perhaps they have impacted their family, neighborhood or community in an exceptional way or have braved sickness or other hardships as a team?

Please nominate these couples so their stories can be shared!  In addition to the calendar, The Oklahoman will publish feature stories on the couples throughout the year.

To nominate, simply submit 250 words about the couple, sharing why you feel they deserve to be recognized, along with a picture.  You can do this quickly and easily at www.newsok.com/inspiringcouples or by mail:

Oklahoma’s Most Inspiring Couples
The Oklahoman
P.O. Box 25125
Oklahoma City, OK  73125

You may also view pictures, stories and video of last year’s Inspiring Couples on the nomination site.

Reading through the nominations was truly the highlight of my last year and I look forward to again hearing about the wonderful couples across our great state!  Nominations are due soon, November 22nd, so please submit your nominations now!  We will notify selected couples the first part of December and move forward with capturing their stories and producing the calendar.

The Love Languages of our Elders

Old farmer. Freddy from Utah - click photo to visit photographer's Flickr site.

It’s about doing something that feels dead to you because it makes the other person feel more alive than anything else.  It’s about considering the “other” around you and relegating the “self” of you.  It’s about reaching outside of yourself and touching a dimension of those around you in a way that is personal, intentional and gives them an electric current through their soul.

These thoughts and more comprise the thesis of Gary Smalley’s “Five Love Languages” book, now assimilated into many cultures and families across the U.S.  If you haven’t read the book, you might consider doing it soon.  The read is quick, the outline is clear, and there may be those around you that would begin benefiting immediately from your greater understanding of who they are – and how they operate.

To review briefly for those who are not familiar with the work, “Love Languages” are ways to understand the process of yourself and others, and why communications or interactions are (or are not) meaningful.  These processes were identified by Smalley as: acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, physical touch, and words of affirmation.  They must ring true for a great percentage of the population because his “Love Languages” workshops are still filling up across the country.  In fact, I ran into people who were familiar with his book while in the UK this past summer.

So, why cover a topic when it’s so familiar?

The other day I was walking across the parking lot of a supermarket.  I noticed an older woman being steered into the store by a caregiver.  The caregiver could have been a family member, but I’m not sure.  It seemed that every interaction between these two people was one of discomfort, misunderstanding, and ended up an impasse.  At one point, the older woman said, “Why isn’t it okay that I don’t want a pumpkin?  I would just like to enjoy a year where I don’t have to throw away something that just sat there.”  The caregiver said, “You’ve always had pumpkins – every year.  Let’s just get one, okay?”

Resigned, the older woman put it in her basket, looked around the room helplessly, found my eyes watching the scene, and looked away.

As I pushed my cart down the aisle, picking up groceries here and there, I began to think about my older family members.  I wondered how their styles of communication or their needs were being met (or not) by our younger family members.  Later that night, I was transcribing some of my grandmother’s memoirs and came across a letter from her father she had copied verbatim.  I recalled that my grandmother was also a “writing” person, that she touched many lives by her loyal letter writing over the years.

Then my brain hopped a train down the “Love Languages” track.  I began to think about each one of my older family members and wondered if I could identify their “language.”  Hmm.

My mother – My parents aren’t really “old,” but they are elders in our family.  Mom always brings sacks with things in it, every time she sees us.  Perhaps she’s a “receiving gifts” person and gives them because she likes to get them?

My father – He seems to be a “quality time” person.  I know he takes friends to lunch, he meets with people for regular breakfasts or get together times to discuss books and politics – that’s how he conveys that he cares.

My Grandma Yates – I think she was a “physical touch” person.  She used to always grab grandchildren, pull them toward her, kiss them with a loud smack and give another hug just for good measure.

My Grandpa Yates – I think he was an “acts of service” person.  He measured people by what they did, not what they said.  And he appreciated what they did.  I don’t know if I have enough memories to really identify his love language, but my best guess is service-oriented.

My Grandpa Frank – I wonder if he was a “words of affirmation” person.  He used to show us things, then look at us expectantly, waiting for our response.  Our job was to say, “Wow – that’s really neat.”  Or, “That was a good find, Grandpa.”  I think he liked to hear encouragement.

My Grandmother Emma Lee – I wonder if hers is quality time?  I know she appreciates it when we come to see her.  But I also know she writes many letters.  Perhaps the letter writing is a way of giving time, of connecting.

I think I’ve covered enough of my family members to make a point.  One of the points I just made with myself is that I don’t know for sure my own family’s love languages; especially the elders in my family who I may just not have considered before.

Do you?  My encouragement for you this week is to observe carefully.  However it is that the elders in your life engage you may very well be how you could best meet their needs.  I can tell right now that I’m going to have to do a bit more investigation.  But at least now I am thinking about it.

If you know the love languages of your elders, write a comment and let us know.  I’m interested in what you’ve observed of the elders in your life.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch: Westerns, Blackberries, and Windfall Profits

This was not the day I was expecting.  My school was closed in honor of Veterans Day.  I woke up at 3:00AM (my usual time), got comfortable, and managed to stay in bed ‘til 7:00AM.  My day had endless possibilities.  I walked around in pajamas, drank coffee, and watched a little TV, but a missed call from my husband plus a voicemail was how I learned that my father-in-law, Chris Allgyer, the reason we get to enjoy this beautiful country life, died in his sleep.  Chris had spent the last five days at home but the previous six weeks in the hospital fighting complications from cancer.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind of tears, visitors, and funeral arrangements.  Even the animals were confused at all of the activity.  One of my indoor cats ran outside and had still not come back in by our bedtime adding to my conflicted emotional state.  I went to bed but did not sleep.


Chris 1
There weren't many places we went without Chris. This was before a Valentine's Day dinner at a local church.

In 2004 after we sold our house in the city, we moved in with Chris. The trailer was small, but cozy.  Well, not as cozy as it was HOT.  He kept the thermostat at 73 degrees all while running the propane heater in the living room.  I tried to watch Friends reruns, but he insisted on watching anything on the Encore Western channel instead.  Chris loved Western movies.  Gradually, the Westerns grew on me.  I loved the horses and the old-fashioned cowboy attire.  I even consented to watch different versions of the same movie…the old one…. and the really old one.  We continued the “watching Westerns during dinner” tradition even after we moved into our own house.  Most Sunday nights I would cook dinner for Greg and Chris, Chris would complain that I didn’t put enough chicken in whatever we were having (he called it “dragging the chicken through”), and I would find a Western for us to watch during dinner.  After dinner Chris would settle in the big chair, close his eyes, and ask for a blanket.  Our thermostat was not set at 73 degrees.


One day while I was mowing Chris’s yard, I came across some wild blackberries.  He informed me that he knew about a gold mine of the berries and promised to take me.  The next morning we gathered our buckets and I met him at the tractor.  I stood on the Bush Hog (kids, don’t try this at home) and he drove us down to the corner of his property. We picked pails of blackberries and I made my first blackberry jam and cobbler.  This past summer he was too sick to take me, so while my OSU friend Kim was visiting, I took them both to a nearby blackberry farm.  Kim complained about the thorns and Chris could not breath well enough to get out of the car to help.  Chris, sitting there in the car, reminded me of how he used to sit in his own truck in the shade and take a nap.  The cobbler didn’t taste nearly as sweet as it did the summer before.

Windfall Profits

In the summertime, it was often only Chris and I at the ranch.  If I had a little cash on me, I would text Chris and ask him to lunch.  His first question would always be to ask me where I got the money.  My standard answer would be “Don’t worry about it.  I’ve had a windfall profit.”  He always laughed and started calling any amount of cash I had on me a windfall profit. We would try to go to lunch at least once a week or two to the post office in Laconia, TN.  It was one of his favorite places to eat.  For me, not so much, but I would still go and get a little cornbread and green beans while he loaded his plate down with chicken livers, greens, and other country-fried foods.  It didn’t take me long to clean my plate so I could be the first to survey the dessert table and report back the selection.  I’d pay the tab (a total of $8.50 for all-you-can-eat) and we’d head home.  On into the evening he would walk out onto the back porch, turn on the porch light, start up the diesel (I could hear it from my house) and take off for a late night cup of coffee and a lottery ticket.  Before I went to bed I would wait for his headlights to come up his driveway.  If my husband was still awake, I’d simply say, “Dad’s home.”  The truck was parked and the porch light was turned off.

Mitchell, Christin, Chris, and Melissa at Greg's 50th birthday celebration. Chris was proud of his grandchildren.

This morning I woke up to find my missing cat scurrying on the porch past the French doors that face Chris’s trailer.  I noticed the porch light at Chris’s still on.  I know the evenings of looking for his headlights coming up the drive are gone and that porch light will stay on until one of us goes up there to turn it off.  Once I let the cat safely in the house, I thought to myself, “Dad’s home.”