By Staff Sgt. Gaelan Lowers, 160th SOAR (A) Public AffairsApril 9, 2015
SAVANNAH, Ga. (USASOC News Service, April 9, 2015) -- The trumpets echoed as the announcement of Lord Jeffrey and Lady Ava Grace was made. They walked beneath raised swords as their entrance was hailed. At the bottom of the walkway, Jeffrey handed Ava a rose and told her he loved her. She smiled and said, "I love you too, daddy."
Spc. Jeffrey Mitchell and his daughter, Ava Grace, 4, were attending his unit's first ever Daddy/Daughter Relationship Training and Riverboat Cruise, April 2, in Savannah, Ga.
Hosted by the chaplain team at the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), the day consisted of princess themed dancing, games, dinner, and a scenic riverboat cruise up and down the river. But before, the festivities began, the Soldiers of the 3-160th were treated to a very special relationship training by some speakers who were less than half many of their ages.
Chaplain (Capt.) Matt Canada has more than 16 years of experience raising girls. His daughters: Emily, 16; Elise, 14; and Eden, 12, came along with their dad to the training to speak to the Soldiers about their experiences and what it is that they needed from their father at their particular ages.
Canada opened the discussion with his experiences and related his parenting philosophy to mission planning.
"Raising daughters is not about today, it's about sending them off for life," said Canada. "I started off with six characteristics that I felt were most important to instill in my daughters, and backwards planned from there. Much like mission goals and objectives."
After he spoke, each daughter had a chance to come up and speak to the Soldiers and answer any questions they might have.
"Be forgiving," said Emily, the oldest. "I cry for no reason sometimes. I get angry and lash out and say things that I don't really mean. Be forgiving. We still love you. You're our heroes."
Eden, the youngest, stressed the importance of dates and spending personal one-on-one time with each of them.
Being alone with each other will open a communication pathway, she said. It'll allow you some insight into what is going on in your daughter's life.
She also reassured the room full of dads that, "saying no was not always a bad thing."
Elise, the middle daughter, explained the five love languages and which one applied to each of them. Elise, for example, said that she loved spending quality time with her dad, and that was what was most important to her. Eden wanted physical touch the most, even if it was more wrestling and less of loving embraces, and Emily needed words of affirmation.
Elise then reminded the Soldiers that they appreciate when their dad gets girly with them from time to time.
"Your daughters look up to you," said Canada. "They take their cues from you. You are everything to them… right girls?" he asked with a smile as he looked at his daughters.
The Soldiers applauded each speaker and individually shook each of their hands as they left the training for get ready for the riverboat cruise. They praised the courage of the young ladies and thanked Chap. Canada for bringing them along.
Before the Soldier dads left, Emily left the room with a question for them to think about. Something, she said, might help them when they are making decisions for their daughter.
"They say daughters marry someone like their dads," said Emily. "Are you being someone you want your daughter to marry?"