The art of loving family in Iowa

Isn't it strange how much your children need you while growing up, but as time progresses, some children move farther from you than most? As a parent, it is hard to determine why because as the child is growing, we are busy raising them and not keeping track of everything said to them daily. We do our best, but there are times we drop the ball, and we don't even know it.

Three of my children were born in California. They spent some of the time there before moving to Oklahoma. After Oklahoma, we finally settled in Iowa. Iowa is where my fourth child was born, and my boys graduated High School. At first, Iowa was a big culture shock to me, but I have learned to love and embrace this excellent state as time moved on. As I always say, I will die and lay to rest in Iowa. There is no other place for me.

I understand the boys went through some tough times with such moves and that their mom and I got divorced and didn't get along, but I thought my daughter and I did well as she was being raised solely in Iowa. I made it a point to be very close to her and make sure I was involved in everything. Maybe I stayed too close.

You see, in Iowa, the people are a lot more independent than even I realized. That would mean my daughter would also be. My old California ways were not working on her. While in high school, she did get exposed to some people whose values were much different than mine, but for the most part, I didn't think it to be a huge problem. I raised her knowing God. My biggest concern is my little girl didn't cling to me anymore. Leaning on dad and relying on my wisdom, I thought, was the most significant gift I could give her. It turns out I was wrong. Wanting to be her hero was all I ever wanted. Wanting me to be just a dad was what she wanted. So now you see the dilemma I had.

After fighting myself and being very concerned with the way things were going between her and I, it made sense to focus on other families' realities and watch what they did. I know several families with children and got more in-depth with their Facebook posts; I learned several things. The big takeaway is most Iowa girls are not clingy. Oh, sure, they start in life loving dolls and playing silly games, but they become as independent as anyone can imagine as they grow. Maybe that is why Iowa doesn't have a Hollywood or a significant runway for a weird clothing line. The younger gals that work locally seem to give it all they have while working as well. None of this standing around, putting on makeup at work, or anything like that. It is all business and such.

I would have preferred to be a hero to her, but hey, who am I to ask for a complete culture change. It all happens way too fast for my blood, but then again, I am just a California boy. In all actuality, life happens way too quickly, so the only thing left to do is smell the flowers. Have a great day, and don't think as much as you love. We will all be much better off. God Bless.

Walter Gatlin Media Iowa

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