What’s it like when your daughters get married?

Kathryn is getting married this weekend. She is my youngest daughter and the second to get married. Family and friends are gathering, some for the first time in a long time. Preparations are in order and we are trying to enter the let go of the stress period. It seems the question I have been asked the most is how am I feeling as my daughter gets married? Given the number of times it has been asked, I thought I would try to answer it here.

Bailey and Kathryn have been on their own, living away from us ever since the day they left for college. They have grown into beautiful, successful, independent, and I might add, brilliant women. So why is it that it is such an emotional rollercoaster ride when eventually they get married?

As a father, you become the go to person in their life. When they have that question about how things work, dad’s the one they ask. When things don’t work, dad’s the one they ask why. They may take their broken heart to mom, but it’s dad that’s asked to fix it. In short, dad is the real man in their life. This might be the place for me to chastise the fathers that are absent dads. How could you fail to fill that important role in your child’s life? What was more important?

When your daughter gets married, you are about to be replaced. There is suddenly a new man in their life and rightfully so. They have chosen the man they will spend their life with. The man they have fallen in love with. The man they might one day start a family with. As much as you respect the man they have chosen and trust him to take care of your little girl, it is hard to step down from the position you held for all those years. But as the understanding, caring dad you are, you accept your new position with grace. In short you get over it.

And then there is the flip side of this ride. Your position may be diminished, but you have, provided they chose wisely, gained a son. A son you can now spend time with learning new ways to do things, getting your computer to work better, and a needed resource for those tasks you were never really great at like grilling anything better or properly preparing the Thanksgiving turkey. Never underestimate the knowledge and skill of the younger generation or the youthful energy they bring to a project you needed a strong back to get finished.

Still, the most important, pleasing result of watching your daughters get married, is the incredible sense of pride you experience as they slide their arm through yours and walk down the aisle with you at their side for at least one more time. You have succeeded. They are fully grown, independent, and ready to start this new phase in their life. They have survived middle school, high school, first dates and last dates, college life, and cruel professors, often with your advice in their ear telling them you can do this. You realize at that moment that you aren’t being replaced, just added to the partnership as that second opinion. After all, they told him that he would be expected to ask dad first for their hand in marriage. As you walk them down the aisle, you come to know the incredible depth of the love you hold for them and that in your heart they will always remain your precious little girl. 

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