mother-and-two-daughters-molly-wrightA little more than a week from now, my life will change dramatically– for the better.

After 27 years of being single, making my own rules and approaching life alone – I’m getting married and joining three woman for my final act on this planet. One – the woman of my dreams and the other two – something I could only imagine a few years ago – a pair of beautiful and brilliant 11 and 12-year-old sisters.

Yes! I’m aware of where I’m going and I can’t stop talking about them. However, it’s time to face facts and resurect the pop cliche’  – “Men are from Mars and Women…from Venus.” We’re different. Case closed.

In preparation for this transition, I thought it would be a good idea to reach out for some advice. Men who live among a tribe of women / daughters have always inspired me. They seem sage-like in their presence (must be a reason for this smoothness) and the perfect testing ground for “how-to” advice for my new journey.

I decided to reach out to my circle of friends and colleagues with daughters and ask one question. That question, often asked over email or in-office impromptu moments was, “What advice would you have for a man getting ready to marry into a household full of women?”

Over the past several weeks, the answer to these questions and the resulting conversations have given me insight and a evolving manual for this new pilgrimage.

My responses were delightfully varied too. Some had their advice on the tip of their tongue – a volleyed response that took less than a nano-second. Others were taken back a bit to think about the best presentation – most often very serious too.

Doug Olsson is a friend who I used to work with in the Sandusky Newspaper Group. I always see photos of he and his daughters. They are always having a great time together and they regularly post comments about how he’s the “best dad ever.” He was one of my first experiments and had two pieces of advice.

He commented on Facebook – “Learn some patience, fast…..and, remember, you are never right, even when you are.” – Doug

With that in mind, I’ve tried to look out at all things in my life and carry with a lense that look at all circumstances with a degree of reservation. As much as I used to like a candid, immediate response – it might be time to develop a delay tactic. Listen first and respond later.

With regard to the second thought – this started out as a funny way of looking at things. It was a recommendation to stay humble and another friend returns the patience theme a bit later in my inquiry to augment this recommendation.

George Coleman has two very successful daughters. Both are college graduates now leading their own lives and an equally successful wife who works at a local college. George is intelligent, focused and determined during the day, but he’s also someone what’s important among his priorities. When I asked him about living with the girls, he focused on listening as the core genetic / psychic talent to culture.

“Listen to them. They have a lot of things on their mind and you’ll probably need to just need to realize, listening will be your strongest and most unique characteristic.” – George

So far he seems right. I’ve noticed the girls like to dream. They like to play, they love to imagine the future and so far when I try to say something cool, something original – everyone rolls their eyes. Fortunately, I think it’s amusement that drives their appreciation at my attempts to be relevant.

I was talking to my friend Roger Mowen about my personal project. He’s concurs  that listening is one of the most important character traits to respect inside the all-woman household. Living with an Italian for more than 40 years and raising two successful daughters deserves both respect and consideration.

As I was telling Roger about some of the other answers, he seemed amused by Doug’s comment, “You are never right, even when you are.” Roger smiled when he heard that one. He thought for a moment and he responded…”but eventually you will be.”

Without hesitation, I laughed out loud at the thought – imaging the satisfaction of the “I told you so moments.” Of course, this small victory will have to be stirred with a lot of patience.

“You are never right, even when you are – but eventually you will be…eventually….someday.” – Roger

While working on a project together, I met one of Roger’s friends Marc Masso. He’s a CEO of a Tennessee manufacturing firm and suggested I ask him about raising daughters – he has four.

When I met Marc in Rogersville to discuss our business ideas, I started off our conversation asking his advice for a man getting ready to join a caravan of women. Like most of the men I spoke to, they were taken back by the question and paused long enough to provide their best response – they knew this was important.

Marc stopped a moment and talked about listening to them. That’s a common narrative for most everyone I talk to. But then he got serious and said one word, “Consistency.”

“Consistency….(long pause) a lot of parents want to be best friends, but you have to recognize your role and stay consistent. Love them consistently and advise them likewise – that means alot.” – Marc

I see this and hear this often from parents. From comments referring to their parent as their best friend to statements about the never-ending confusion of why some parents reel from nice to mean or happy to grumpy. Being consistent is deeply provoking answer – one that stirs my mind deeply in all things. Most of our problems in life tend to surface from reeling off course. From getting married to parenting – one of the best character traits is a consistent and determined approach toward those we love. Great advice for the quest.

One of my last advisors was Miles Burdine. Miles is president of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and the proud father of two very successful daughters. He’s also a former marine and one of the most successful and most inspiring characters in my own personal business landscape.

I spoke to Miles recently and asked him the question about my new environment.

He was quick to answer to.

“That’s easy. First of all love them….Protect them too. When they come home with the boyfriend who seems questionable – be very careful and protect them. And keep showing up at those cross-country and sporting events.” – Miles

Miles clearly has a guardian role over everyone in his life. He’s humble, proud and serves to protect from every angle. He’s quiet and a professional, but keeps his eyes and his heart on the lay of the land – ready as any good marine would be to lay down his life.

I imagine this experiment will continue to evolve into my new future. There’s no reason for me to stop looking for clues and adding to this new operations manual. I’m sure that I’ll need to refer back to these conversations over and over again.

From what I’ve learned so far, I’ve got a mental sticky note now to approach most every situation.

  • BE PATIENT
  • LISTEN
  • LOVE THEM
  • BE CONSISTENT
  • PROTECT THEM

Good advice indeed. I’m also interested in your thoughts, especially if you have some nuggets that haven’t made my list and I’ll look forward to your suggestions. My hope it to be the best I can be moving forward and all advice, secrets, mantra and magic incantations will be greatly appreciated.