Daddy’s Words – {guest post by Natalie Eastman}

Natalie and her family - 1976

Natalie and her family – 1976

The daddy-daughter relationship carries with it intricacies and particularities no other relationship does. Whether the dad is present or absent, the relationship holds serious gravity for the daughter’s personal development on all fronts: emotional, social, mental, relational, and spiritual.

In short, my dad was both present and absent on a number of different levels. A quiet man—very quiet—very slow to speak and quick not to judge, he shared precious few stories of his childhood. He shared no negative stories at all and preferred not to talk about his time in the army in France during WWII. I heard only positive stories of his upbringing. He preferred, in no uncertain terms, not to be “psychoanalyzed.” So, my attempts at simply learning more about him often came to naught. I could find no evidence that explained his quietude that extended beyond quietude—his emotional walls were a mile high.

In his admirable equanimity toward my brother and myself, he showed no preference for one over the other. A man of few words, he praised our accomplishments with supremely understated encouragement.

As a hard working engineer, and the son of a school principal who was the first of his farming family of ten children to attend college, Dad had an incredible work ethic, despite many career setbacks. He also prodded and pressed my brother and me to think.

One phrase, which he used repeatedly with us, because our whining provoked it, certainly rises to the fore, when considering words that have shaped who I am today:

“I’m not going to give you the answer. I want you to work it out for yourself.”

Ugh! How that phrase exasperated us!

Yet, I now find myself echoing it with some degree of regularity to my own kids, particularly my oldest who’s entering second grade and doing “actual” homework for the first time—homework he really has to think about to complete correctly.

“Just tell me the answer, Mommy!” he implores with the deadliest of gazes and the most frustrated of tones. I know that I know that I said the same thing to my dad in much the same manner, and probably worse.

Still, I persist, as did Dad, in figuring out new and different ways to help my son understand a concept or find a resource that will help him find the answer for himself.

My first book, Women, Leadership, and the Bible: How Do I Know What to Think? A Practical Guide to Biblical Interpretation came out two months ago. Well before Bronwyn ever asked me to write this article—years before I ever met Bronwyn through our writers guild—I wrote an acknowledgement to Dad in my book’s front matter:

“First thanks go to…Dad, who,
much to my childish dismay,
never merely ‘gave me the answer.’”

When Dad, for all those years, insisted that I work out an answer for myself, little did either he or I know that one day I would write a book to help women work out biblical answers for themselves. Never woulda thunk it. Now that very book is published and others are on their way. How timely is it that that Bronwyn should ask me to participate in this blog topic, words that formed us?

I’m blessed to have an opportunity to consider afresh the formative nature of those words spoken to me in helpfulness and love.

Dr Natalie Eastman, pictured here with her parents on the day she graduated with her PhD. Her father passed away the fall after seeing his daughter graduate.

Dr Natalie Eastman, pictured here with her parents on the day she graduated with her PhD. Her father passed away the fall after seeing his daughter graduate.

Dr. Natalie Wilson Eastman teaches and coaches women learning to discern answers to their biggest life questions, biblically and theologically. She received her Master of Divinity (’02) and Doctor of Ministry (’05) from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

In 2001, she sensed the Lord’s leading to write in order to make her seminary education and training beneficial to and for women who may never go to seminary themselves, but who would love to if they could. Her first book, Women, Leadership, and the Bible: How Do I Know What to Believe? A Practical Guide to Biblical Interpretation, was published May 2014 by Wipf & Stock Publishers. She lives in Delaware, OH, with her professor-husband, David, and three young children, whom she not only loves, but she also really likes, even though she won’t just give them the answers.

To find our more about Natalie’s book and teaching ministry, visit natalieeastman.com or email her at info@NatalieEastman.c0m. You can also connect with her on Facebook or at www.womenleadershipbible.com. 

{p.s. note from Bronwyn: I have a copy of Natalie’s book awaiting my return to the US at the end of July which I am eager to dig into and find out for myself :-) You can expect a review from it on this blog in the next few months :-)}

 

6 thoughts on “Daddy’s Words – {guest post by Natalie Eastman}

  1. In a world where we like to say yes and it’s actually encouraged, hearing a positive perspective on the word “No” is refreshing. There is value to problem solving, a skill that is touted in curriculum, but not so easy to teach. This blog post reminds us the word “no” has many benefits. It defines where we begin and where we end, it sets limits in a world where instant gratification and entitlement are seemingly unbridled. It brings other words to mind like “wait” and “patience”. Most problems aren’t solved quickly, it takes perseverance and self control under pressure to arrive at a sensible solution.
    I look forward to reading Women, Leadership, and the Bible in hopes it will further my own thoughts and thinking to new horizons and heightened awareness.

    • “it takes perseverance and self control under pressure to arrive at a sensible solution”
      Well said, planejain. I can’t say that I always rise to my dad’s legacy; but the model was there.

  2. I completely agree. This ability to problem solve is a muscle in your brain that needs to be exercised regularly. There are many paths to get to the solution. Some paths lead to a dead end, which will cause you to turn around and try again. That’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. Without failure, there would be no success. Other paths contain numerous detours or road blocks because you continually let yourself be side tracked along the journey. That’s okay, too because you learn along the way and ultimately reach your destination. The most effient and direct path may have gotten you there quickly because you gleened from the wisdom of those before you OR you used skills you aquired previously from taking detours and hitting dead ends. Whichever route you take to solve those problems, you will ultimately get there. But the key is to enjoy the colorfulness, or lack there of, of the scenery along the way and to continue to exercise your brain and problem solve for yourself. You have to continue on your own path even if you get stuck in a ditch along the way and need a friend or parent to help tow you out. And what we as parents need to know is that your kids will take different paths that we may not enjoy watching, but they will learn best from those detours and road blocks. And life would be quite boring if we didn’t experience the drama of them taking a detour through the desert or the long route over the mountain. We can only rescue them a few times to help pull them out of the ditch, but ultimately, it’s up to us to provide the tools for them to fix the flat to get back on the road.

    • Thanks for your contribution, Lori.
      Because my 5-yr-old daughter loves mazes, I frequently get to watch her attack simple ones with her slender fingers, determined to figure them out. Or I see my 7-yr-old son sorting through his Legos to find just the right pieces, undistracted, for hours on end, or my 4-year-old (the imagination has just exploded!) now entertaining herself with stories unending. I find myself impressed. I suppose my husband and I may have been as creative as all that; but it’s still pretty cool. I think part of the reason they seem so self-sufficient/self-entertained is that we’ve forced them to be. We’re definitely involved parents, don’t get me wrong. One might even call us a bit anal or OCD. But we’ve also obsessed over *not* finishing the puzzle for them, searching for the one tiny Lego piece they just “had to have,” or stepping into the dramatic play uninvited.
      These are age-appropriate responses to my kids’ developmental stages, of course. I’m told by friends who’ve gone before that the problems get bigger as the kids do. I pray they’re receiving a framework for making good choices, based in large part on figuring things out most things for themselves, with guidance whenever necessary of course, while they’re small.
      Who knows what they’ll eventually need therapy over. :) But we’ll probably continue erring on the side of more “nos” than “yesses” when it comes to giving out answers or problem solving.

Over to you: join the conversation!