I will confess, I am a Daddy’s girl. But I’m also a Mama’s girl, because I have two pretty amazing parents. I often joke that my mom and I haven’t “cut the cord” yet, but the truth is, if I had ever been connected to my dad by a cord, I wouldn’t want to cut that, either.
We know that sociology has proved that the role of a father in a child’s life has profound consequences on how that child feels about his or himself – and all of us are living proof of that, be it positively or negatively. Thankfully, I am an example of a daughter who was and is well-loved by her dad, and I believe that my dad’s love and care for me has had a huge impact on my self-confidence. While I think I have a good grasp of my strengths and weaknesses, I’ve never had a serious self-esteem or confidence crisis, and when I feel down on myself I am able to recover by focusing on who I am in Christ. But knowing who I am as Charlie’s daughter certainly hasn’t hurt, either. Here are three things my dad did right to help me become a confident girl and woman.
1. He took me along for the ride.
I have two older brothers, but I was never excluded from any activities my dad did with them. (My first lesson in gender equality!) My dad shared all kind of things he loved with me, including fishing, garage saleing, baseball games, and endless hours looking for bargain tools at Odd Lots or the hardware store. He let me help him build a back deck onto our house when I was about 10. And his variety of all very used cars (“Old Blue, the ’77 Ford truck, was my favorite, but the ’76 Buick Skylark he had for quite awhile in the early 90s was another fave for an easily-embarrassed teen), he took me on all kinds of errands. We had a game where we’d guess the total of our grocery bill and whoever got the closest got to keep the change. My dad always made me feel like he was glad to have me along for the ride – wherever we were going.
2. He told me I inherited every bad trait he had.
That’s right, my dad has told me all the things that are wrong about me multiple times. Does this sound negative? Trust me it’s not. It’s a great joke between us. I have heard my dad say this dozens of times when I’ve been having a particularly um…expressive moment, let’s say. After a good rant, or a seemingly silly frustration, or even a cutting remark that my dad would witness from me, he’s say with a smile and a shake of the head, “Girl, you got every bad trait I have.” And you know what? I love that. My dad wasn’t excusing my behavior, but he was in that moment, validating the feeling behind it. And he let me know that he was just as imperfect as I was, and that he understood where I was coming from. Although as I said, it’s a joke between us…it’s really something that has always meant a lot to me, and helped instill me with confidence. When I think about ways I am like my dad, I can see our shared weaknesses, true, but knowing we share them only makes our shared strengths come into sharper focus.
3. He served others in front of me.
My dad was and still is the guy a lot of people call when they need help. A teacher by trade, he is also a natural handyman and as a child I saw him respond to others’ needs for help with their car, their dishwasher, their toilet, their roof, their furnace, etc. more times than I could ever keep track of. My dad was also that guy who would stop for anyone having car trouble in a parking lot or on the streets of our town. I saw him help strangers many times. I can remember being an impatient child not wanting to stop AGAIN to help someone we didn’t even know, and just wanting to get home…but what I couldn’t see as a child, I figured out as a young woman. And that was that all people are worthy of our service, whether we know them or not. If we can help, we should. Friends, strangers, family…they are all the least of these, and if we are followers of Christ, we are called to serve them. Watching my dad serve others affected my confidence because it showed me that I, like the stranger in the parking lot, am also worthy of love because God made me in His image, and I, like my father before me, am also called to give it.
My dad isn’t perfect, but he’s really, really, good. And I’m really, really, glad he’s mine!
Dads, if you are reading this, I hope you’ll take a page from Charlie’s book. He had one shot, and he nailed it. Thanks, Daddy, for helping me become the perfectly imperfect but oh-so-functional woman I am today. I love you!