Although my dad passed away on an April’s day 32 years ago, and I’ve now lived the better part of my life without him, whenever this month comes along, my days are often filled with thoughts of him and what my life would have been like had he been alive.
I suppose this is the very same reason turning 50 is such a big deal for me because when I turn golden, I would have outlived my father who passed away at age 49.
I was 16 that summer and had yet to experience falling in love and the subsequent heartbreak that comes with it. Because my dad was my world, every boy I dated had to measure up to him. Losing a father early also sets you up for serious daddy issues, and this was something I had to seriously grapple with most of my adult life.
Hurdling those obstacles transformed me and impacted my life and relationships very deeply.
The other day I stumbled upon a wonderful article on a website that I highly recommend to all my guy friends, whether they are daddies or not. The website is called The Good Men Project (www.goodmenproject.com) and the story I read, which made me smile and feel wistful at the same time, was written by a father for his daughter—the 20 Things a Father Should Tell His Daughter.
Too bad I read the article 30 years late, but the wisdom I found there is something I wish my father had been able to pass on to me. Here are some of my favorites from that list.
First, the writer “Dork Daddy” whose blog www.dorkdaddy.com is another wonderful read for all dads, says, “Pay attention to the way a man loves his mother. That is the way he will love you.”
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen it countless times in the marriages of close friends and colleagues. The man who treats his mother like a queen and cares for her deeply and sincerely will undoubtedly treat his girlfriend or wife that way.
Now, a word of warning about mama’s boys and Nazi-like mothers-in-law. Every girl needs to look out and avoid those types, too.
Plus, make sure you have opportunities to observe closely your boyfriend or husband interacting with his mother. It’s always easy to fake the “I love my mama” a few times, but certainly not all the time.
Second, he says, “People will judge you by the way you look. It isn’t fair, but it’s the way the world works. Keep that in mind as you pick your outfit in the morning.”
Now this I got a bit of from my dad who always reminded us to look our best whenever we stepped out of the house. Regardless of social stature, one needs to make the extra effort to look neat, clean and dignified at all times.
Intelligence is attractive
Third, “Nothing is more attractive than intelligence.” At least with the boys or men who aren’t just looking for trophy wives or girlfriends.
Date a boy who knows both the sciences and the arts, my dad used to say. The same rule goes for girls. As Dork Daddy says, “Liberal arts grow your mind. Science and business keep you fed. You will need both.”
Fourth, “Know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek, and the key players in both.” Corollary to nothing is more attractive than intelligence, I honestly think, that in this day and age, a girl who knows the difference between Captain Kirk and Han Solo, the Khans and the Empire will be quite difficult to resist.
Fifth, and this one I love but have had to learn the hard way, that you don’t have to “DO” anything for someone for that someone to love you. Dork Daddy says the right person will cross a desert, or swim across an ocean, just for the chance to sit next to you at lunch. The problem with many young girls, well, even 40-year-old ones sometimes, is that they morph into different creatures when they are in love and thus lose the boy or man they fell in love with in the first place.
No more drama
Lastly, Dork Daddy says fathers must teach their daughters to ditch the drama. “The fastest way to strain a relationship with a man is to bring up old drama. We can’t remember to hang up the bath towel. What makes you think we remember that stupid thing we did six months ago?”
Stick to issues, raise them in a calm manner when he is ready to listen and, should he decide to clam up, just let him be. Men need to stew in their caves from time to time, that’s just their nature.
And meanwhile, as they try to sort out the landscape of their emotions, go out into the forest, climb mountains, cultivate a garden and be as awesome as you can be. When the man-bear is done hibernating, he’ll come out and go looking for you.
For women like me, or girls out there reading this who no longer have a father to tell them these things, it’s never too late to gain insight and wisdom. Thank God for dork daddies who show us the way.
Follow the author on Twitter @cathybabao or on Facebook.