Stacie Duce
Spending time with with kids builds a foundation when they need a coach and confidant.

“Mom, I just can’t talk to you about this,” was my daughter’s abrupt end to a conversation I was trying to initiate over breakfast.

I took the cue. It wasn’t the first time I’d been shut down by my daughter, who represses frustrations until she erupts like a volcano and spews hot-lava words of indisputable logic, thoughtful analysis and fierce rantings.

So, she was still smoldering.

I could wait.

The topic was basketball and the competition she was unexpectedly facing for her point guard position.

My daughter continued to pick at her food while I rinsed dishes … and then my husband walked in.

In almost the same tone, same words and same level of concern, he posed the same question to my daughter and she melted with a somber response.

My back stiffened. I wasn’t that dumb or uninformed. I’d sat through the same basketball season and the championship game where we shut down the blue team’s offense and the star point guard’s ability to single-handedly win the game with flawless free throws.

Although I never played, I know basketball lingo and strategy when it comes to prep sports. And I’ve learned a lot about our current team dynamics by quietly listening while driving the family taxi.

So, I took a deep breath and decided to foster appreciation rather than jealously.

It was her dad. And I also am a daughter who still melts during daddy-daughter discussions of both the significant and mundane.

My thoughts then turned to my mom, who has respectfully been left in the dust during many emotional discussions over the years. So like her, I resisted the temptation to take offense or even point out the obvious.

And I must admit, my husband earned that moment.

After years of coaching club basketball, league games and 3-on-3 tournaments, he succeeded not only because of his ability to coach a sport, but because he can communicate with teenage girls and patiently help them focus despite the challenges of social drama, uniform fusses, hormone surges and growing gangly appendages.

So, as all the parenting advice suggests — time matters. Spending time together builds a foundation for the singular moments when life is hard and a kid needs a confidant.

My dad coached all my brothers and sisters in their sports, but since I was too busy reading, he found ways to spend time with me, too. We took drives, went for ice cream, worked together in the garden or cleaned the church. And we had a scheduled interview on the afternoon of the first Sunday of each month that we never missed.

My dad is still one of my greatest confidants. He’s got skills that surpass any psychotherapist, written book or lunch date with the ladies. When we talk, we don’t solve every problem, but my load always seems lighter with new ideas, thought-provoking analogies and distantly attached insight.

Dad succeeds now because of time invested while I grew. He’s watched my strengths and weaknesses develop over the past 40 years and his choice to be an involved parent still pays dividends.

So my daughters and I join the ranks of those who truly need a dad to make it through life’s ups and downs. We honor them this week for their sacrifice, wisdom and especially their ability to keep our confidence high.

Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana and Utah publications. Her columns appear Thursdays on EMAIL: [email protected]