One month ago, my dad left our physical world to be with us from the other side. He was a good man and the best dad I could have hoped for.
Good dads are hard to find. The best dads, even more difficult. One month ago, my dad left our physical world to be with us from the other side. This means there is a job opening for the best dad in the world. The day of his memorial I spoke about life lessons he imparted to our lives. Here are a few of the highlights.
1. Always LIGHT up when your kiddos walk into the room. What we’re looking for is love and validation as daughters from our fathers. Children have a rough enough time in the world these days and seeing a critical face from dad makes us question ourselves. Instead, be our sunshine first and take care of our messed-up hair or funny-looking outfit later.
2. Help us build CONFIDENCE and SELF-ESTEEM through unconditional love. Research indicates that a girl’s self-esteem is directly related to feeling unconditional love from her daddy. So give us a surplus of love without conditions and you’ll help us grow into strong, confident women.
3. Treat us like a WHOLE person. She may be the most beautiful creature ever, but also remind her that she’s strong, intelligent, funny, kind, creative, a good friend and a good daughter when she is. This will help us lean on all our talents instead of just one.
4. Treat all the women in your life with the utmost RESPECT. You can talk to your daughters about how to treat others until you’re blue in the face, but if you’re not MODELING respect, the lessons are lost. We’ll be able to feel words without actions.
5. TEACH us to camp, change tires, change the oil, fish, build stuff and any other skills we would traditionally think of as ‘guy jobs’. You will teach us self-reliance and confidence and that no task is limiting because of gender.
6. Be as PRESENT as possible. We understand life gets super complicated and complex, but please try to be in the moment. Set aside a few minutes each day to be with your daughters, to listen to their wild and crazy and sometimes boring stories. And when we leave the house for college, call us, even if it’s just to say hello or tell us a joke.
7. Let us know you’re PROUD of us. Hearing your hero tell you he’s proud of you for the first time will be forever etched in your mind and heart. As human beings, we need tons of affirmation, but we need it even more as children. Tell us and tell us often. It could change the course of our entire lives.
8. Encourage us to follow our DREAMS. There is nothing like hearing the people who you look up to tell you that anything is possible. Notice what fires us up and gets us excited then encourage us to follow that curiosity. This is necessary in a world of naysayers and dream killers.
9. Take CARE of us, even if we’re adults. I’ve witnessed dads help their children rebuild their homes, bring them medicine when sick and drive 12-hours to help mend a broken heart. We will need you forever, even late into life.
10. Remind us that EVERYONE is just trying to make it in this world and not to take anything personally. Learning that everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about and that nothing others do is about you is when life becomes a little bit easier.
11. NEVER yell or scream unless it is an emergency. There isn’t a reason to raise your voice unless someone is in dire straights. As long as you model this for us, we will learn to avoid situations with those who do later in life.
12. Stay active, eat HEALTHY and have a community. Teach us that self-care is important. It’s not about being selfish, but taking care of ourselves first and foremost, so that we’re best equipped to take care of others.
13. Be a FATHER figure to our friends. About 1/3 of kids are fatherless in the US. This number is dismal and tragic, but you can come to the rescue.
14. Teach us to STAND UP for what is right and just. Teaching us to look out for others. This will foster compassion and expand our world view. It will also teach us to stand up for ourselves when we’re oppressed.
15. Provide SAFETY. In addition to being our protectors, also provide the safe space to be ourselves. Dads who allow us to flourish, thrive and mess-up without judgment are the best dads. This will also help us try scary things because we know you’ll be there to catch us. (Thanks for this one Audri!)
16. Find something that makes us LAUGH and do this forever. No explanation needed on this one.
My dad lived this way with his girls most days of his life. Many of these he modeled for friends and loved ones as well. In addition to unconditional, unquestionable love, which is the purest type of love according to his granddaughter, Sarah, we don’t need much more. If you’re able to practice some or all of these lessons throughout our lives, in return we’ll work to make you constantly proud, give you some sleepless nights and stress-filled bellies, sweet kisses and laughter and the endless love only a daddy’s girl can give.
Photo is author’s own.