I’ve always been told that a father is a son’s first hero, and a daughter’s first true love. At 21 years of age, I wholeheartedly believe that. While they may not be the ones to carry you in their bellies for nine months, they are the ones who set the standard for the guy their daughters will one day marry and the kind of man their son should strive to be.
From an emotionally biased standpoint, I can’t imagine getting through the awkward middle school stage, the countless days spent packing and unpacking boxes to move once again, the first boyfriend, or the rollercoaster that was high school (and the challenge that has currently been college) without the man who has held my hand as we crossed the street to make sure I got to the other side safely or bought me a chocolate Kinder egg after school “just because” or danced me around the living room because I’ve always been a princess in his eyes.
However, from a researched based point of view, I’m even more thankful to have been raised by such a strong, influential father. A study done by the Father Involvement Research Alliance proved that children to be more likely to grow up emotionally secure, confident in new situations, and eager to explore their surroundings when their fathers were in the picture.
I can attest to this in more ways than one. While yes, there have been a handful of times when these three things weren’t deemed true in my own eyes, looking back on everything now, I’ve seen just how impactful my daddy has been on me.
1. He taught me how to be step outside my comfort zone.
Because of him, I have grown strong – able to hold my own in different situations with people from all walks life. He’s a talker and can make friends with the person in line behind us at the grocery store any day of the week, and I think, as awkward as I might have felt at the time, it’s one of the things that really helped me overcome being shy.
2. He taught me the importance of adventure.
Because of him, I have learned that a little adventure is good for the soul. As a Boy Scout leader, he has been on more camping trips than I can recall, and has no problem taking a long drive to explore somewhere new. I’ve been lucky to spend a few weekends on these different campgrounds with his troop and their families eating s’mores, white water rafting, and making memories. It’s given me a wanderlust that reminds me there is more to this world than the four walls I grew up within.
3. He taught me the importance of a good laugh.
There’s not a day that goes by without a hearty laugh when we’re together. We both know from experience, life can get a little hard sometimes and if you can’t find at least one thing to laugh at, it’s going to be a heck of a time getting out of that rut. While I appreciate the “Good morning, sweetie. I hope you’re having a good day. Don’t forget how much I love you” texts, the one I get every Wednesday will forever hold a special place in my heart – “Guess what day it is…..HUMP DAY. Yeah. Love you.”
4. He taught me the importance of being yourself.
My dad’s go-to dance is the chicken dance, if that tells you anything about the kind of person he is. He’s the biggest goofball I know, but he embraces it. He’s not afraid to get out there and do something when everyone else is just standing around. I’ve taken this more to heart in the past few years as I began college in a place I didn’t know anyone. I’ve made some great friends now – because I was reminded everyday to never change who I was.
I could say thank you a million times over as we sit across from each other at the corner table of Ihop talking about school, boys, work, and life in general, but I’m not quite sure that could ever cover the amount of lessons I’ve learned from the man I am lucky enough to call my father.
This is for you, dad, and for all the dad’s out there. We, as daughters, may not always agree when you tell us the boy we bring home for dinner isn’t the right one, but we’ll always come running to you when we find out the hard way you were right. We may not always like when you’re protective of us when we go out and start asking all the questions of where we’re going, what time we’ll be home, and who we’re going to be with. But, trust me, we’re going to look back on those days and be thankful to have someone who cares so much.