A good dad can be a kid’s most devoted supporter. It’s so special when a loving father makes his children feel like he really likes being around them. Every kid can benefit from an awesome father, but there’s something extra special about dads and their daughters. That isn’t to say that a person without a positive relationship with their father can’t feel loved and fulfilled through other relationships, but when you have a great dad, you don’t take that for granted.
A great dad can make his daughter feel not just adorable and funny, but strong, capable and smart. If he’s careful and intentional, a dad can set the bar for his daughters, teaching them that men are required to treat them with respect and dignity, and recognize them as true equals.
Lucky for me, I have a really good father. My dad made sure I never felt like my thoughts, feelings, and opinions didn’t matter just because I was a kid. He praised me when he saw me do something kind or when I worked hard. He listened carefully when I told him stories. He said positive, kind things about me to other adults when I was around.
My father corrected me when I needed it. He expected me to behave in a way that was consistent with good character. As encouraging as he was, he kept me grounded. He managed to make me feel exceptional without allowing me to think I was above the rules or better than anyone else.
He encouraged me with purpose. My father never once told me if something I tried wasn’t my talent, but he carefully and lovingly directed me to things he knew I was better suited for. (Thank you, Dad, for saving me from ballet and clarinet. They were truly not my thing.)
When I started to show promise as a writer, my dad proudly displayed my assignments at his desk. He was so proud of me, and his pride gave me the confidence to believe I was truly as smart as he said I was.
As close as we have always been, I have not been “Daddy’s little girl.” That’s a concept I’ve never connected with. I was never his princess. I was always just his daughter. He treated me like I was smart, capable, and strong.
My father never expressed one bit of sadness to me when I started to grow up. Maybe he was wistful when I started to change from a little girl into a young lady, but I never knew. He just stood behind me every step of the way, helping me figure out how to handle whatever came next. My father talked me through the bullying, heartbreak, and betrayals of my teen years.
As I became an adult, our relationship naturally followed suit. He began speaking to me like I was an adult who was free to make my own choices. I’m sure he felt all the complicated emotions of watching his firstborn leave the nest, but he always made me feel like I was free to make my own way.
I’m 35 years old now, and I still talk to my dad every single day. I’ve realized that my relationship with him has taught me some of my most important lessons. Here are some of my favorites.
1. There are a lot of things more important than being pretty.
I know my father thinks I’m beautiful. I have never doubted that for a minute. But he has always talked about beauty like it was just a fact, not an accomplishment. He made it clear that becoming a kind, intelligent person was more valuable than all the beauty in the world. I still feel beautiful to this day. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the way my father made it feel like an irrefutable fact.
But despite his appreciation for the face fate gave me, he never encouraged me to put more value on how I looked than how I treated myself and the people around me. I grew up with a solid understanding that other people will inevitably be more beautiful than I am, but that doesn’t make them more valuable than me.
2. There is no one path that is right for everyone.
My dad was in the military when I was little, then he worked in entertainment for most of my life. His own path has changed wildly over the course of his life. He didn’t care what life I chose as long as I was pursuing something worthwhile that made me happy.
He paid for me to attend private school for my entire life, but he very rarely put an emphasis on college. When I chose college, he was supportive. When I chose to stop attending before I had a degree, he was fine with that, too. As long as I am happy and able to support my family, any life I choose is okay with my dad. That support has been so important to me. I’ve taken some big risks that panned out in the best possible way because I knew he would do his best to help me regroup if it didn’t work out.
3. I am worthy of respect, and I shouldn’t settle for being mistreated.
My relationship with my dad set the stage for how I should allow other people to treat me. I’m very sure that having a close relationship with my father equipped me to choose a good partner. I’ve never had to demand respect from my husband. He is the kind of person who treats other people fairly.
I believe I easily recognized that my husband was a good choice because of my dad. When I met my husband, I could see that respected my mind, my ideas and my dreams in a way that felt familiar to me. My husband and my father could not be more different, but they have the same core desire to treat the people in their lives with kindness and respect.
4. Nobody knows what’s best for me better than I do.
When I got married, I walked down the aisle on my dad’s arm knowing that he had no hesitation because I had no hesitation. He trusted me to make wise choices for my life. I also knew that if I changed my mind, his car keys were in his pocket, and he was ready to take me home. Whatever I wanted for myself is what he wanted for me.
His faith in me has taught me to trust myself. I know that I am the one and only expert on me. I know who I am, and I know who I am not. Of course, I consult other people when I feel like I need to, but ultimately, I trust me to know what’s best for me.
It would be unfair to act like our beautiful relationship has been perfect. That would take away from the intentional way that we choose to forgive one another for our flaws so we can still be a little team.
My dad is not a perfect man, and I am not the perfect daughter. We have maintained a close relationship to this day, but it has not been without its faults. As time has passed, we have developed some differing opinions. We have both made decisions that disappointed the other.
But we always end up finding a way to see eye to eye and lay our disagreements to rest. I am so grateful. I’m nobody’s princess or little girl, but I am lucky to be my father’s daughter.