She Still Calls Me Daddy: Building a New Relationship with Your Daughter After You Walk Her Down the Aisle

She Still Calls Me Daddy: Building a New Relationship with Your Daughter After You Walk Her Down the Aisle

by Robert Wolgemuth

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Overview

A memorable guidebook for fathers to help them create a new adventure with their married daughters.

Standing at the altar giving their little girl away begins a new day and the need for a new way for fathers to relate to their daughters. Robert Wolgemuth, author of the best-selling She Calls Me Daddy, reminds fathers of the important role they still play while offering insight as to how it must change in the next chapter of their girls' lives. Topics cover seven relational issues:

  • Protection
  • Conversation
  • Affection
  • Discipline
  • Laughter
  • Faith
  • Conduct

Includes thoughts on an ongoing relationship as well as on becoming a granddaddy. Discussion questions provide a great opportunity for personal or group study.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781418577711
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 05/04/2009
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Robert Wolgemuth is the author of the bestselling book She Calls Me Daddy. He is also the author of many other titles including The Most Important Place on Earth, Seven Things You Better Have Nailed Down before All Hell Breaks Loose, and the sequel to his first book, She Still Calls Me Daddy. He has also co-written The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life with Mark DeVries, and What’s in the Bible with Dr. R. C. Sproul. Robert Wolgemuth has served two terms as the Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers’ Association. Robert, a widower, is the father of two adult daughters and five grandchildren. In the fall of 2015, Robert married Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

SAYING GOOD-BYE

WHERE IS THE GOOD IN GOOD-BYE?

— Meredith Willson, The Music Man

This is it," I whispered to myself. "This is really it." Organ music filled all available air space with remarkable glory as the bridesmaids began their slow march down the center aisle, one by one. Our wedding coordinator would soon tell my daughter, Missy, to put her hand on my arm in the traditional escort position. You know what I'm talking about: that formal, take-his-arm thing they teach awkward young boys and reluctant, blushing girls at cotillion.

Standing in the narthex at the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville, I was close enough to my daughter that the abundant fabric of her shimmering dress swallowed my shoes. It looked like I was standing in shin-deep snow.

I turned to look at this woman next to me. Again. "You look just like I imagined you would," I said softly. She smiled.

In a few moments, I would obediently extend my arm so Missy and I could strike the pose and begin our journey to the altar. But for now, for just one more lingering moment, I held her hand.

This pose was more familiar. More sweet. It's what we had done thousands of times all the way back to when we were crossing a busy street or walking along and going anywhere. She held my hand because it made her feel safe. I held her hand because it made me feel whole.

The church was filled with family and friends and well-wishers. I scanned the front. Like fence posts wearing bow ties, the groom and his men were standing at full attention on the right. Black book in hand, the minister was in place at the center, ready to deliver his prepared remarks. His words would make the proceedings official ... "By the authority vested in me."

Like dolls on a conveyer belt, the perfectly spaced, bouquet-toting bridesmaids slowly glided forward.

The bride and her daddy stood quietly, taking it all in. Holding hands.

"I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND"

When I was a young teenager waiting for my official first date with a girl, the one thing I could hardly wait to do was hold hands with her. I couldn't imagine doing anything beyond that. I spent no time playing in that fantasy.

My first heartthrob was Suzie Hedley. We went to different schools, but our fathers worked for the same organization, which gave me a chance to see her now and then. She knew who I was but couldn't have cared less for me as a potential beau. This awkward and shy boy probably wasn't even on her long list.

One Friday night at a Wheaton Community High School football game, I saw Suzie. She was there with Peter Taylor, an older boy with a driver's license. When I saw them, they were leaving the game early and walking to his car in the parking lot. And they were holding hands.

It has been almost fifty years since that day, but I can, at this moment, recall exactly how I felt then. I was completely crushed. My spirits were inconsolable. A die-hard Wheaton Tigers fan, I suddenly lost interest in a football game. I slipped through the gate in the chain-link fence, past the ticket-collecting lady wearing a huge chrysanthemum, who asked where I was going. I offered no answer to her kind question and walked home alone.

As a fourteen-year-old, somehow I had figured out the wonder and tender intimacy of holding someone's hand. The mutual connection of creation's perfect, nerve-filled glove. Seeing Suzie holding Peter's hand took my breath away. And broke my heart.

Thirty-five years later, I was striking a pristine tableau ... an elegant bride, a tuxedo-clad father, the strains of a pipe organ, a church filled with people we loved.

And my daughter and I were holding hands.

THE PLANK

Today, I'm the father of two married daughters. The first wedding was in 1994, when I escorted Missy down the aisle, and five years later it happened again with Julie.

Missy and Julie came into my life in 1971 and 1974, respectively. Moments after their births, I was presented with their burrito-sized bodies. Taking their tightly swaddled forms from the nurse, I looked into their ruddy faces, drew them up to me, and kissed their tiny rosebud mouths. Their eyes rolled back and forth, trying to focus. They squirmed. I kissed them again. The feeling in the deepest corner of my heart was wonder and overwhelming delight.

"Hello, little girl," I whispered to them. "I'm your daddy."

Like a sentry, I stood guard over these little girls during their childhood years. Their mother and I watched them crawl, then stand, then walk, then run, then ride their bikes. Because they were girls, they moved very quickly from making unintelligible noises to single words, to phrases, to sentences, to paragraphs, to complete unedited manuscripts.

Now these children were elegant women. At this wedding ceremony, my younger daughter, Julie, the maid of honor, was the final doll to step on the conveyor belt. Missy, the bride, along with her dad, would be next.

The wedding coordinator had given us the signal, and Missy's hand was now resting on my left forearm. The music swelled and filled the sanctuary like a thick mist, penetrating every nook and crevice. I felt tingles, then numbness from the top of my ears to the bottom of my feet.

As I slowly walked down the church's center aisle, I wish I could tell you that the feeling was the same rapture I felt when I gave Missy her first kiss in the hospital. But it wasn't. This wasn't a wedding; it was a funeral. And deep in my soul, I knew it.

I was a man walking the plank.

Back in the days of treachery on the high seas, I'm sure walking the plank wasn't a pleasant experience. But sometimes I smile at the stereotypical eye-patched pirate — parrot on one shoulder, filthy do-rag encircling his head, and only a few remaining unbrushed teeth in his mouth — forcing his victim to drop into the roiling sea by walking a narrow plank.

Shades of this father headed to the chancel.

IT WAS ALSO ANOTHER BIRTH

You are probably shocked that I'd say something like this ... comparing our daughter's wedding to a funeral? Or a walk on the plank?

Let me assure you — without the slightest hesitation — that the men our daughters chose to marry are incredible. Missy's husband, Jon, and Julie's husband, Christopher, are the answers to the prayers we began when Bobbie and I knelt beside our daughters' beds. "Lord, please bless the boys that these girls will marry. Protect them today. Help them to be obedient to their parents. And teach them to love You."

The girls would also pray for these boys — wherever they were. "Help them to obey their moms and not to fall off their bikes and hurt themselves."

Our prayers had been answered. We couldn't have been more thrilled with the young men who stood at the end of that long aisle. Bobbie and I loved these men and were overjoyed with Missy and Julie's choices.

So my dark feeling wasn't because I disliked Jon or Christopher in any way.

What I knew was that this ceremony spelled the death of something — and the birth of something else. Something completely unknown to me.

Until that moment, I had been the most important man in their lives. As their parents, Bobbie and I had been the go-to folks for decisions, big and small. Our home was their home. But on this day — with one promise — all of that died.

Our journey to the front of the church was finished. Missy stood to my left and Jon to my right.

Our eyes were locked onto Mark DeVries, our associate pastor and one of my closest friends. Many years before in Waco, Texas, a thousand miles from this church, I had been asked to be Mark's confidant and mentor by our senior pastor, Dick Freeman. Mark had just graduated from Baylor University and was getting started in youth ministry.

Because I had some experience on that particular battlefield before going into business, I was chosen to shepherd this bright young man into ministry. Mark and I had enjoyed many breakfasts at a local Texas diner where the waitresses poured stiff, dark coffee and called us sweetheart. Even though our conversations were deep, often theological, my favorite thing about Mark was how we made each other laugh.

On this day, however, that levity was replaced by quivering lips and eyes brimming with tears. Mark and I took a minute to gather what was left of our composure.

He found his before I found mine and made some opening remarks. "Dearly beloved," he began, his voice tiptoeing on the thin ice of emotion, "we are gathered together in the sight of God and these witnesses to join together this man and this woman."

After some additional comments, Mark looked squarely at me and asked the inevitable.

"Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"

Mark had known our daughters from the time they were in their early elementary grades and, even though he was fairly young, I'm still confident that he grasped the magnitude of this day for me.

I took a deep breath, hoping my voice didn't crack like a prepubescent choirboy. It didn't.

"Her mother and I do."

I leaned over and kissed my unmarried daughter on the cheek.

I kissed her good-bye.

I don't remember turning and walking to the front pew. I don't remember sitting next to Bobbie. And I don't remember taking her hand or leaning over and whispering something to her. Those who were there testify that I did these things. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known.

What was born in that ceremony was a new most-important man, a new go-to guy, and a new marriage in a brand-new home.

And on that wedding day — and the one five years later — something else was born, a role I had never known before: father of a married woman and father-in-law to a man I hadn't raised.

More than two decades of hard-fought relationships with our daughters were instantly demoted to second string.

For each of them, there was a new superstar in town. And a relationship between my daughters and me that was going to need some adjustment.

Some serious remodeling.

REMODELING THE MANOR

Julie had warned me many years before, so her decision shouldn't have been a surprise.

"When I graduate from college," she had told us as far back as high school, "I'm going to buy a house. I don't want to ever pay rent to live somewhere."

Ordinarily, children who talk like this are met with amused smiles by adults. Like when eight-year-old boys announce that they're going to be bounty hunters or young girls tell everyone that they're going to have twelve children, five of their own and one adopted child from every continent. In Julie's case, there were no smiles. Instead, there were years of drive-throughs in possible neighborhoods and checking the classifieds for houses for sale by owner. But no amused smiles.

In December 1996, Julie graduated with honors from Samford University with a degree in business administration. Because she finished her work in three and a half years — thus saving us approximately $1.3 million for that final semester — I promised to help her find her house and assist with the down payment as well. Bobbie and I also invited her to live with us until the house of her own was secured.

Oh, and I also offered her "a little help in remodeling the place."

Five months later, we found it. The area of Nashville was called Crieve Hall. The homes were primarily thirty-to-forty-year-old, one-story ranches nestled among huge oak and maple trees. This one was a solidly built one-story on a corner lot, fourteen hundred square feet, with hardwood floors throughout. We contacted a realtor, made an offer, and negotiated a final price in a few days. Then we paid for inspectors to comb the place for any termites or priceless baseball card collections the previous owner may have left in the attic. We would have reported the termites for sure.

The house was sound. No roof leaks, cracks in the foundation, and, as far as they could tell, no termites. (No baseball cards either.)

Julie and I were thrilled with the clean bill of health. Especially Julie. She was going to have her first house. She decided to name her house The Manor. Actually, its official name was The Barrywood Manor, after the street where the house stood. She even listed it under that name with the phone company. When she called from her house after she settled in, the caller ID said "Barrywood Manor."

The morning of the closing arrived, and Julie and I went to the title company accompanied by our realtor and armed with a down payment check. The receptionist led us to a small conference room where we met the current owners and their realtor. We greeted each other and sat down at the table. Then I watched my daughter sign a stack of papers as hefty as the Des Moines Yellow Pages. When it was over, we shook hands, thanked everyone, and said good-bye.

From there Julie and I drove back to our house, changed into work clothes, and grabbed some tools. We put them in the bed of the well-worn pickup truck I had borrowed from my friend John Crawford. It's always a good idea to have at least one friend who owns a pickup. Even though "Old Blue" had seen her better days and had to be parked on a hill so we could roll her forward and pop the clutch to start the engine, she was a perfect companion for the project.

In our early walk-throughs, Julie made a list of things she wanted to change. The lone bathroom was at the top of the list. For some reason, back in the fifties, gray and pink were favorites among contractors. The bathtub was gray. (It was also cast iron and extremely heavy.) The ceramic tile on every wall was pink, and the floor was a mix of gray and pink.

On our first day, the aforementioned succumbed to a sledgehammer and crowbar, finding their way to the huge leased Dumpster sitting on the driveway. My teenage nephew, Erik, had flown in from Kansas City to join in the fun. He helped carry out the loose results of the sledgehammer's work. We sold the tub to a recycler for the cost of taking it away. (These were the days before eBay.)

THE BIG IDEA OF REMODELING

The early years of raising our daughters are, in many ways, like new construction. House building. It's a dad's privileged responsibility — with God's help — to take the raw material of that tiny, helpless baby girl and shape her into completeness.

But now that she's married, we're taking the relationship we've built with our daughter for twenty-some years and retrofitting it into something different ... not defining, but redefining.

What happens when our daughter takes our arm and we walk her down the aisle and say, "Her mother and I do," is incredibly consequential. Our association with this woman will never be the same. It must be radically changed. Remodeled. If we don't do this well, serious trouble awaits us. But if we are successful, this remodeled relationship with our daughter can be amazing.

If you have ever tackled a home remodeling project, you know what I'm about to say. If you haven't, you can ask someone who has ... or you can trust me with the following truth: remodeling is far more difficult than tackling new construction.

Building from scratch can be plotted and planned and controlled. Remodeling is a mystery. Surprises, twists, and unexpected turns are inevitable. The toilet needs to be moved, but there's no three-inch drain access on the other side of the bathroom. The wall you've decided to remove is filled with electrical outlets and the only cold-air return in the house. It's also loadbearing. Although the furnace is fully functional and passed inspection, it was installed during the Eisenhower administration. And it uses coal.

New construction includes the precision of following a blueprint. Successful remodeling is solving one problem after another.

When we're starting from scratch, we can roll out the plans on the hood of Old Blue and go for it. New construction is fairly predictable. Precise. But when we're radically changing something that already exists — remodeling something — we take it a day at a time. We brace for the unexpected and unforeseen surprises and roadblocks. Just like when our daughters get married.

THREE DIFFERENT BASEMENTS

When you have a chance, I'd love to show you some photos from a few of our family albums. For some reason, I have been compelled to remodel basements ... three of them. The first was in 1978, downstairs in our home in Geneva, Illinois. The project began on New Year's Day when I used a grinder I had rented the day before to cut a large window out of one of the eight-inch concrete walls of

our full basement. If you've ever done this, you know how much fine, white dust is generated when cutting through concrete. Even though I had blocked all the heating ducts down there, a thin layer of the white stuff still managed to sneak out and land everywhere, including on every leaf of every indoor plant scattered throughout our house. Bobbie couldn't believe it.

The second basement remodeling project was tackled in 1992 in our home in Nashville. My business had failed, and we were forced to close our operation in a leased space. This area downstairs was going to be my new office, and I had just a few months to get it finished.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "She Still Calls Me Daddy"
by .
Copyright © 2009 Robert D. Wolgemuth.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

With Gratitude, ix,
Introduction: Welcome to the Rest of Your Life, xiii,
1. Saying Good-bye, 1,
2. New Normals for Everyone, 19,
3. Protection: Safeguarding Her Marriage, 41,
4. Conversation: Can You Hear Me Now?, 61,
5. Affection: Widening Your Embrace, 79,
6. Discipline: The Hard Work of Letting Go, 101,
7. Laughter: A Preacher, a Rabbi, and a Priest Went Fishing ..., 117,
8. Faith: Where the Real Power Lives, 137,
9. Conduct: It's Showtime for Dad, 157,
10. Her Mother and I Still Do, 175,
Conclusion: For Dads in Special Situations, 189,
Notes, 199,
About the Author, 201,

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