Updated: Nov 10, 2020
My father formed my expectations of how I should feel about myself and how I ought to be treated by men. He didn’t sit me down and say, “You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness in all relationships.” But, like many little girls, I grew up with a certain degree of adoration and even idolization for my father and I was watching him.
I noticed that my Father treats women with courtesy and kindness and I learned that I am worthy of the same.
I noticed him holding doors open for strangers and standing when someone new entered the room and I learned that I am worthy of respect.
I noticed him help his wife/sister/mother put her sweater on in a restaurant and I learned that chivalry isn’t dead.
I noticed the positive language he used when talking about women (even women who had hurt him) and I learned the power of words.
I noticed when he read us Bible stories, prayed before meals, and attended church with or without support from loved ones and I learned the value of a spiritual leader.
I noticed that when we played, rough-housed, or tickled that my “no” meant “no” and my “stop” meant “stop.” And I learned that I am worthy of having my boundaries respected.
I noticed when he listened to my questions and my ideas and I learned that my feelings and opinions matter.
I noticed when he cried at funerals or from heartbreak and I learned that it’s okay to feel and to grieve.
I noticed when he taught me how to build things, do science experiments, build a fire, and play ball just like little boys and their dads do together, and I learned that girls are just as capable and as strong as boys.
I noticed when he played piano, taking requests so we could dance, taught us about brass instruments, took us to the driving range, and taught us to fly kites, and I learned the value of having hobbies and passions.
I noticed when he planned family activities and vacations and I learned the importance of making memories together.
I noticed when he showed up to my games, plays, concerts and events and I learned that my interests were important.
I noticed when he took on the roles/responsibilities of both father and mother in my teenage years (buying my feminine products and making effort to understand what I was going through) and I learned that men are capable of nurture and understanding.
I noticed that when it took me a little longer to catch onto a new skill, he never gave up on me and I learned to persevere.
I noticed when he made mistakes (because all parents do) that he admitted his wrong doings and apologized sincerely, and I learned that it’s okay to make mistakes if you‘re willing to correct them.
I noticed that as I matured and my body changed from a little girl to a grown woman, my father never backed off. His affection for me remained the same and I learned that I am worthy of unconditional love.
Fathers, your daughters are watching you. The way they see you treating them, their mothers, and the women around you will become the expectations they have for the men in their lives.
My Father isn’t perfect. No parent is. This is something that becomes increasingly more clear as I continue on my own parenting journey. But, he did a DANG good job.
I feel very fortunate that my Father is a gentleman and, dare I say, a feminist - that he treats women as equals with kindness and respect, that he is emotionally available to my sister and me. Because of what I saw in him, I knew the kind of man I wanted to marry and was strong enough to walk away from relationships that were not healthy.
Fathers, you won’t be the only male influence in your daughter’s life but you are the first man she will ever love and the impact your behavior has on her psyche is immeasurable.
Lead by example with the values you hope to instill and be worthy of her adoration.
<3 WellTree Mama