A repository of words from an absent father

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,322
I've had this thing on my to-do list for a few years now but every time I get close to taking action on it I have a meltdown and put it off for a while longer. It's similar to a last will & testament, but for non-material things. I want to record some talks for my daughters, talks that I would otherwise have with them in person at certain milestones of life, if ever I don't make it home one day. Talks about boys, about sex, about work ethic, about personal challenges, about being a good person, admonition about getting in trouble and encouragement to do better, happy birthday greetings, consolations on hard breakups, congrats/consolation about college acceptance letters, etc.

My brother in law was in a horrible motorcycle accident a few days ago. He's in the hospital in a coma on life support with a broken neck, broken limbs, brain damage, etc. If he ever wakes up he most likely won't walk and won't be the same person. This is putting some pressure on me to cross the action item off my to-do list. I'm at the point now where I'm either going to suck it up and do it, or decide against doing it at all. That's why I'm here, to ask if it's a good idea. Because I can't put myself in the mindset of an adolescent female who's lost her father.

If you were a 10 y/o girl and you won a spelling bee would you enjoy being rewarded with a congratulatory video from your dead dad?

If you were a 13 y/o girl would you respond well to a sex talk from your dead dad?

If you just turned 16, would a happy birthday recording from your dead dad played at your birthday enhance or detract from the experience?

Is it grandiose to assume that your words would be welcomed and relevant 10 years after someone has adapted to life without you? Is it selfish or narcissistic to want to assert the memory yourself into every key juncture of their lives? If you lost your father at a young age, is something you would want? Would it make their lives better or worse?
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,482
Personally to me, it sounds creepy. We've all lost people we loved and respected.

To me the best way is to honor them is to let them 'die' while enjoying good past memories, pictures and videos.
 

bogosort

Joined Sep 24, 2011
473
I've thought about this question, too, and I've come to the conclusion that an archive of "dead dad speeches" won't have the desired effect. Any such videos would necessarily be canned and generic, without any relevant details that make the event special to her. They'd end up just being general dad advice about a list of topics with very little connection to her life. Even so, I'd think that seeing such a video would not only bring up sadness, but also feel a bit creepy. Personally, I dropped the idea the instant I imagined my daughter dreading having to watch one of those videos.

I think a better idea is to make it a point to record videos of the two of you having fun together. It doesn't have to be staged: take a short selfie video the next time the two of you are at the mall, ask the wife to discretely record father-daughter moments at the next outing, etc. The kind of thing that, when she's missing daddy, she can look at a short video and remember how you laugh, or how your eyebrows do a funny thing when you're annoyed.

Most importantly, make memories with her.
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,069
.... selfish or narcissistic
Kind of, I think.

I feel that as the intention of paying a debt that you still do not have...and you never will. Equivalent to "visiting" relatives in the cemetery. Never did such a thing.

Better to give the best of you while you are around. Quality of the moments is what counts to me.

Just an example of what I understand is good to do: if I give a present, rest assured I took care to select something I found suitable for the destinatary; otherwise, better I give nothing.
 

killivolt

Joined Jan 10, 2010
786
I don't think so, I would keep a good Journal of your daily activities which they can read later on, thoughts that are provoking you at the moment. Children over time, need space to grow in, this world is their experience, not mine, not yours. Keeping a good relationship, Father Daughter, is what they need, sometimes you're just there for them as they grow, sometimes it's absolutely a Father thing which is protective not smothering, kind of like, teaching them running into the street without looking is a bad thing, but if they do, you wouldn't get into your truck and run them down to prove your point, right? I know it seems absurd but some parents literally do, when they (Some Parents) have to prove to their children they're right, what good is it to be right, if it means your relationship is broken or destroyed.

They need a good grasp of goal orientation mixed with personal competition, with ones self. We can't know the time of our deaths, we are subjected to it, they need to realize no matter how much time you spend with someone, death is just another door, both for you and for them. Hopefully you have prepared them for the event by making as many positive experiences as you can, while you can. That means spending quality time together with all and individually. Positive reinforcement is what they need to find themselves, in a world of choices, those choices are both good and bad, just like yours and we learn from them as we grow, we need to give them room to learn from them. By now, I think you get where I'm going, and at 62 years of age, I'm still growing, it won't stop until I'm dead, grow with them not for them.

Helping them make the most of their time on this earth is our job, making the most of their lives is theirs. Hopefully this is thought provoking and intuitive motivation for you, it's not all the answers, because we make them up as we go sometimes as we are presented with challenges life gives us each day, each minute, and each second.

Sincerely,
kv
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,062
I too, as others have already mentioned, find videos kind of creepy for this purpose. Videos are perceived as recordings meant to be seen publicly. So a very private and intimate message registered in that format makes no sense to me, unless it's meant to be seen by a large group of people, and not just an individual.

Written letters would be far more personal and appropriate, I think. And I wouldn't write them addressed into the future to your grown children, but rather in the form of a journal registering your thoughts and reflections about them at the moment it was written. It would be hard work, since you'd have to write one for each of your kids. But I guarantee the gesture would be thoroughly appreciated, and it's something you can hand them yourself (if you're still around) when they come of age and have their own kids. I bet you a keg of the finest beer that they would treasure said letters so much that they might become part of your family's heirloom for generations to come.
 
Last edited:

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
7,853
I can just hope your a better dad than my oldman was. It took me years to get over what he did to me while growing up. If he left me a video of him talking I'd probably dig him up just to strangle or otherwise hurt him.

Do what you can now everyday to let them know you love them and they will remember that their whole life time.
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,612
I've had this thing on my to-do list for a few years now but every time I get close to taking action on it I have a meltdown and put it off for a while longer. It's similar to a last will & testament, but for non-material things. I want to record some talks for my daughters, talks that I would otherwise have with them in person at certain milestones of life, if ever I don't make it home one day. Talks about boys, about sex, about work ethic, about personal challenges, about being a good person, admonition about getting in trouble and encouragement to do better, happy birthday greetings, consolations on hard breakups, congrats/consolation about college acceptance letters, etc.

My brother in law was in a horrible motorcycle accident a few days ago. He's in the hospital in a coma on life support with a broken neck, broken limbs, brain damage, etc. If he ever wakes up he most likely won't walk and won't be the same person. This is putting some pressure on me to cross the action item off my to-do list. I'm at the point now where I'm either going to suck it up and do it, or decide against doing it at all. That's why I'm here, to ask if it's a good idea. Because I can't put myself in the mindset of an adolescent female who's lost her father.

If you were a 10 y/o girl and you won a spelling bee would you enjoy being rewarded with a congratulatory video from your dead dad?

If you were a 13 y/o girl would you respond well to a sex talk from your dead dad?

If you just turned 16, would a happy birthday recording from your dead dad played at your birthday enhance or detract from the experience?

Is it grandiose to assume that your words would be welcomed and relevant 10 years after someone has adapted to life without you? Is it selfish or narcissistic to want to assert the memory yourself into every key juncture of their lives? If you lost your father at a young age, is something you would want? Would it make their lives better or worse?
The fact you have the impulse to do this is very important. The question is, what is the effect you want it to have, is that effect possible to achieve, and if so, how?

I think some of the responses here offer good advice. Letters allow you to “speak” to the future without imposing quite as much on it. It seems to me, a generic video, intended just to say how much you care for your daughter, how much you love her and her mother, and how you want her to have a good life is something worth doing.

I would put the video in the hands of her mother to show her if and when it was needed since you won’t know if it is a good time, and maybe in my will put a provision to have her inherit a copy when she turns 21 in case she hasn’t seen it and allow her to make her own choice about watching it.

As far as life-cycle events, I think letters would be really good things. You could write them for tings you can predict like high school entry, graduation, marriage, etc. so she can feel you were thinking of her. But *I* would make the content purely supportive. The problem with giving advice is not being able to take account of the context in which she will read it.

But knowing that even if you can’t be around, you thought f her and want the best for her could be a very good thing for her in the future.

The danger I would guard against is imposing on her future life. After all, not only will you not be able to know how things are going and how she has changed but she will not be able to argue with you and depending on her feelings she may feel obligated to follow advice you wouldn’t even give her if you could see her circumstances.

In any case, spend a lot of time telling her things NOW. Supportive things, affectionate things, and do those things that would let her have you around in her own mind and heart even if you weren’t able to be there in person. That “inner voice” will make the supportive messages you send into the future much more valuable to her, she will give herself “your advice” if she learned it from you, and she can’t get that from videos or letters.

Do the best you can now, for as long as you can, and lets hope you watch that “I love you” video TOGETHER.
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,322
Ok I've taken everyone's input, combined it with input that I received from a few people face-to-face whose input I value (most importantly my wife, that was a depressing conversation), digested it, modified it, and decided in favor of something more along the lines of a few suggestions made here about a journal or a series of letters. Among many other items in the "pros" column I think this will be easier to do in terms of conveying only positive energy, as opposed to delivering a "happy" message with moist red eyes and a shaky voice. Also I will strive to deliver more quality time and impart more wisdom to my daughters now while I can.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
11,289
Among many other items in the "pros" column I think this will be easier to do in terms of conveying only positive energy, as opposed to delivering a "happy" message with moist red eyes and a shaky voice.
I've read about several fathers who have written letters to their daughters. One did it knowing he didn't have long to live and wanted give her words of encouragement as she was growing up. I was touched; enough that I've given some thought to doing something like that.

I wouldn't be so quick to rule out a video or audio recording or two. It might be comforting for your loved one to be able to hear your voice.
Also I will strive to deliver more quality time and impart more wisdom to my daughters now while I can.
That can backfire. My kids consider it to be lecturing and aren't receptive. I was orphaned when I was around 15 and there are so many things that I would have liked to have learned before my parents died. My kids think I'll be around for a long time and there's plenty of time. That's part of being young and thinking you know everything.
 
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