I have an infinite amount of love for my father for various reasons: I consider myself the mini female version of him, he's spent the last 20-plus years providing for a house of four women, and he's the only man in my life I can always count on.
He has and always will be one of the biggest supporters in my life, and I owe both him and my mother a debt I couldn't possibly repay.
Though I have been blessed with many role models in my life, I firmly believe there is something special that exists between a father and his daughter.
An indescribable bond is formed the second your eyes meet and you become his baby girl.
This bond fosters incredible growth and lifelong lessons from both ends.
These lessons stick with us throughout our adulthood, and they have a very large influence on the young women we become.
They are important reminders that guide us on our paths through life, and they can only be taught by the men we trust most: our dorky, embarrassing and endlessly loving fathers.
Here are eight of those lessons:
1. “A little modesty goes a long way.”
It’s very rare my father will have any kind of opinion about my style, but the second he feels there’s too much skin showing, he’s a regular Tim Gunn.
Of course, it’s natural. If he had his way, I’d be in a turtleneck and floor-length skirt every day.
And, as much as I try to fight him on it, in the end, I know he’s always right.
Though I’m a firm believer in positive body image and feel all women should be proud of what they’ve got, there are ways to exude confidence that don’t involve a bra that increases your bust by two cup sizes and a dress that could easily pass as a lengthy shirt.
No matter the outfit, most men will have a pretty good idea of what’s going on underneath, so do yourself a favor and leave a little to the imagination.
Seeing your body should be a privilege, not a guarantee.
2. “Chivalry isn’t dead.”
With shifting societal standards and the modern advances of gender equality, many of us are led to believe the traditional values of chivalry have fallen by the wayside.
There is no more pulling the chair out, holding the door open or “ladies first” ideals. And, you can just forget about a guaranteed paid meal.
However, what my father has shown me (and what I’ve found to be true) is that these things do still exist.
The challenge is finding the men who still see the worth in these practices, the ones who have been taught how to treat a woman and do so in a way that demonstrates the utmost respect.
We know this is the reason why our fathers will wield guns, make threats and intimidate the hell out of any boy who crosses our path.
They know we deserve the best, and we should listen to them.
3. “Never hide your intelligence.”
Back in the days of adolescent insecurities, when all my classmates were getting their first boyfriends, holding hands in the halls and sharing kisses by the lockers, I was left wondering when my Prince Charming would arrive.
My father only had one thing to say to this: “You’re too smart for them.” And while the sentiment was typically met with eye rolls from both me and my sisters, we soon realized he had a point.
Sometime during the transition into adulthood, we all reach that stage where we question whether displaying our intelligence is truly even worth it.
Besides, boys like dumb girls better, don't they? Maybe, but you know who doesn't? Men, like real women.
We deserve the kind of men who can put aside their male egos long enough to realize they may actually be with a woman who is smarter than them.
Be proud of your brilliance, and the next time a boy breaks your heart and you don't understand why, try to remember my father’s words: “You’re too smart for him.”
4. “We’re not all bad.”
There are many things we learn about boys from our dads: they’re stupid, they’re perverted and they’ll probably end up breaking our hearts at some point in our lives.
We hear this all the time, and it can sometimes feel like our dads are trying to convince us the opposite sex should be avoided at all costs.
And, while some fathers may agree with this on the surface, we all know they are fully aware it’s not possible.
That’s why, as we get older — through all the playground fights, middle school rumors and dramatic breakups — they start to show us there is hope.
They show us we can’t cast negative opinions on the male population from one bad experience. We learn being hostile toward all men will only make us look like jerks.
Your father is proof good men exist in this world, and with a little patience and your dad's approval (of course), you’ll find the one who's right for you.
5. “Failure is good for you.”
One of the most important life lessons I've learned (and one of the hardest things to accept) is failure is inevitable.
You won't get everything you want, and life isn't always going to go as planned. From being just shy of getting into the gifted program in elementary school, to getting denied from a dream internship, my father has shown me this.
More importantly, he’s explained why these experiences will benefit me.
He's taught me why learning how to fail and doing so constructively is the best possible way to prepare yourself for the future.
My father worked his ass off to get to where he is today, but he didn't do it without navigating a few road bumps along the way. No one has.
So, accept your defeats, be aware of your mistakes and keep going. Failure sucks, but it’s not the end of the world.
6. “Never settle for less than you deserve.”
No matter what our future plans may hold, no one wants us to conquer life’s biggest challenges more than our fathers.
They know we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to and make sure we know it, too.
They do it because the last thing they want is for us to settle for anything less in our friendships, careers and relationships.
The world is too big to choose the first option. You have your whole life to explore possibilities, and you should do so until you are happy. Taking the easy way out is almost never the best option.
7. “Know when to ask for help.”
As much as they try to prepare us, our fathers know they can’t be there for everything.
There will be times when they have to let go and let us figure things out on our own. This can be scary for them and for us, but it’s a reality both parties must be willing to accept.
My father has always taught me to be a self-sufficient, independent young woman, but he’s also taught me there are certain things that shouldn't be handled alone.
When my car battery dies, I need to find someone with jumper cables.
When I want to walk home at night, I need to find a friend to come with me.
We’re capable, but we can’t do it all and there’s nothing wrong with that.
8. “You will always be daddy’s little girl.”
*Cue the waterworks*
It's the overly used, stereotypical cliché that’s supposed to tug at our heartstrings and leave us in a pool of our own tears every time.
It’s been referenced in movies, TV shows and country music songs since the beginning of time, and it will continue to exemplify the father-daughter relationship for years to come.
And every word is true. There’s not a single thing we have to do to win the hearts of our fathers.
They are smitten the second they lay eyes on us and quickly realize their lives have been changed for the better.
They are responsible for the delicate innocence of a brand new being and will spend the rest of their lives doing whatever it takes to protect it.
And although there will be times when it seems they have lost it, we will remind them that no person, place or lifestyle change will diminish the love that we have for them.
Thank you to my wonderful father and the many fathers out there who have dedicated their lives to raising their beautiful daughters. We love you.