When is parenting ever easy? It's even harder when you don't set the right example, or listen to your children in their time of need.
Being a dad is hard, being a great dad is even harder. These girls just want to help.
1. No, it isn't that time Dad.
That not every instance of anger or sadness on my part was because "it must be that time of the month." My dad is a great guy all around, but used to bring that up (even jokingly) waaaay too often.
2. Don't gender divide housework
I was never invluded in stereotypically-male houswork. As a result, I can cook and load a dishwasher like my life depends on it, but I can't do any sort of maintenance like putting up a picture frame or unclogging a sink.
3. Your children are always more important than your second or third wife.
When my parents divorced, my dad was always taking trips with his new girlfriend on weekends I was supposed to be with him. It was excruciating when I was 15.
MeisterStenz and Karonhiakatste
4. Stay rebellious.
Thank you for all those secret times you let me pick something out of the vending machine to eat when we were on trips together - you knew Mom would never allow it.
5. Don't be afraid to do "Girly" things.
My dad never hesitated to do "girly" things with me. He was the one who took me school shopping (we would often hit Starbucks and then pick up chocolate covered strawberries afterwards). He would fix my hair for school and paint my nails for me. I remember wanting a head full of tiny braids (this was the 90s) and he spent hours of his Saturday afternoon braiding. We played with Barbies and he actually came up with storylines for them and put effort into it. On the other hand, he also never kept me from doing "tomboy" things. I raised baby calves, helped him wash cars, and worked on the lawnmower.
All those times you just accepted things that were girly without ever attracting any kind of attention to it really went a long way towards helping me build a healthy perception of guys. You never expressed any kind of disdain or machismo when I asked for your help untangling my Barbie's hair or prodding you with magic fairy wands.
6. Treat Our Mother Well.
Our standards of how we expect to be treated by men come from how you treat our mothers.
Show her kindness, we will expect kindness. Treat her like crap and we assume being treated like crap is normal.
7. Hair Help
How to put hair in pony tails/brush long hair in general. Just thinking about it twenty years later makes my scalp hurt.
8. Teach Practical Skills.
You never hesitated to teach me practical skills - and you never attributed gender to them. It was always, "Come over here and let me show you how to snake the drain, because you're going to need to do this." BTW dad, I snaked my first drain all on my own last month! I'm so glad you taught me.
9. Attentive, not reactive.
Thank you for bailing me out when I was in a pinch, no questions asked. No guilting, no attempts at squeezing out information. I felt like I could come to you with any dilemma. This took a load of my shoulders because Mom is so reactive and "freak out first, maybe resolve later."
10. Respect works both ways.
You respect me, which makes me respect you even more. When I call you out on BS, you actually repent and reflect. You don't deflect back on me and pull the, "I'm the parent and know better than you" spiel.
11. Boys aren't the enemy.
Treating every boy interested in your daughter as your enemy does both of you a disservice.
My dad was very over-protective. Any time a boy had a crush on me, he would be immediately added to my dad's s#!tlist. Even if he was perfectly kind and respectful.
After a certain point, I just stopped listening to my dad's complaints. In my eyes, he had lost the right to give input about my relationships.
Unfortunately, when I was 17 I became entangled in an abusive relationship.
My dad hated the guy. But since he also hated every one of my previous suitors, I didn't interpret his concerns as legitimate.
On top of that: since he was so busy trying to prevent me from having relationships, he never talked to me about what a healthy relationship looks like.
12. Appreciate our interests.
You actually took the time to sit and watch my cartoons or (attempt) to understand my video games or other hobbies. Mom always turned up her nose. You didn't. Do you know how awesome it is to watch your Dad actually laugh at the cartoon your mother just dismissed as "dumb" minutes before? So gratifying.
13. Sanitary Supplies aren't a big deal.
All those times you went shopping for groceries and picked up ladies sanitary supplies without any hesitation, even if you did affectionately rename the long super maxi pads, "low-salt maxis"
14. Affection ≠ Weakness
That it doesn't make you look weak to show affection once in a while. My dad hardly ever hugged us or said he loved us.
That it's great you're extending the offer to spend time together, but when you invite your kid to the garage to help with something, actually have them help with something.
For context, my dad would be working on his boat engine or something, and he'd say come help me with this, and then I'd sit on a bucket for 20 minutes watching him in silence, and finally wander off out of boredom. Looking back, it's great he wanted to spend time with me and I appreciate that, but being present and being involved are two different things.
16. Know the line.
You take great pride in "embarrassing me" - but you know exactly where to draw the line so it's endearingly goofy, not genuinely embarrassing. You know your audience and play to it. I feel no shame when my friends (or now-fiance) are around you.
17. Don't be embarrassed.
It's okay if your hands were too callused to properly tie my ballet skirt before classes. I could tie it myself. But I didn't tell you at the time because I knew it made you happy to help me. So don't be embarrassed because the fabric kept snagging on your calluses.
18. Keep Trying.
Don't just assume your daughter won't be interested in your activities because they aren't stereotypically girly or because once as a small child, she didn't want to do it. Not wanting, say, go hiking or fishing when I was 5 years old doesn't mean I never ever want to do it. Keep trying to get your kids involved in your life and don't just give up. You're teaching them not to share things about themselves and losing the chance to bond over something you love.
At the same time, if they don't want to do the thing. Don't make them do the thing, but don't stop asking them to do the thing unless they tell you to stop asking.
19. Set a good example.
I wish you took your dental hygiene more seriously. I think your lax attitude and seeing you lose a lot of your teeth didn't set the best example for my sister while we were growing up.
20. Something in common.
That it is best to have a personal bond with your father, a hobby or activity that’s the two of you -no matter how small, and not him just be there when the whole family is together.
When our outdoor cats would get ticks I quickly alerted my father and we removed them. For him a chore and for me the one thing that was us doing something together.
21. We love photos, so should you.
Don't be scared of having your picture taken, if your daughter wants to take pictures of you, or especially with you, let them. My dad died when I was 13 years old and then I realized that all of his hiding from the camera meant I was left with only a handful of photos and he wasn't in any of our home videos. You don't realize how important they can be until you aren't able to make new ones
22. Make time to do "Daddy-Daughter" Dates.
When I was little we had "Daddy-Daughter" dates where we would go to Chuck-E-Cheese or mini-golfing. When I was in middle school and high school we would go to the pool together and lay out and talk. A few years ago we got tickets to see Miley Cyrus' Bangerz tour and got drunk together and had the best time.
23. Stay Alert.
Unwanted sexual attention from grown men doesn't always come from strangers. It comes from "family friends" too.
Pay attention to your friends' behaviors and comments around your kids.
My dad cut off a longtime friend after catching him leering at me in a bathing suit at a pool party when I was only 12.
24. Put a sock in it.
If you spend a good portion of your daughter's childhood talking about how much better and easier a son would be to raise, don't be surprised when your daughter grows up confiding almost exclusively in her mother and never in you.
25. Be Patient.
He was always patient with anything regarding my self-esteem. He helped me lose weight when I was in middle school and waited for hours for me to get ready before we went somewhere, and never, ever commented on anything other than to compliment me.
26. Puberty sucks for us, just be there.
When your daughter is going through puberty and starts getting her period, don't write off the things she's going through. There's all sorts of new hormones swirling around in there, and they're gonna affect her mood. She's getting periods, they're probably gonna hurt. Being in pain makes you grumpy, but don't write off every instance of anger or bad temper as being 'because you're on your period'.
Maybe her mom doesn't get bad ones, maybe you've never thought about it because your wife is a grown woman who has learned to deal with her periods and the assorted mood swings and pains and moved on; your daughter hasn't yet. Be a little more thoughtful, help teach her ways to manage what she's feeling.
27. People can act differently with different people.
There are some men (and boys) who are perfectly decent when other men are around, but are not nice to women (and girls) when there are no other men around. Believe your daughter about her own lived experiences, even if you didn't witness them yourself.
And believe other women about their own lived experiences as well. If your daughter grows up hearing you talking about how your mother and sister were clearly overreacting when they said your childhood neighbour was creepy - because, after all, he was always perfectly decent to you - your daughter is not going to go to you when your own neighbour is creepy to her when you're not around.
28. Encourage Independence.
The biggest thing I think that he did (and still does) is to encourage my independence. He helped me through school and constantly reminds me that I am a strong woman and that I don't ever have to get married if I don't want to (my mother used to put a lot of pressure on me to "settle down"). He is my friend along with being my dad. I'm forever thankful for him.