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Fatherly lessons I wish I’d had

This piece originally appeared in print in June 2007. I think it was a wish list of my own really — wishing I’d had a Dad who not only stuck around, but taught me how to stick up for myself from an early age instead of having to learn it all firsthand at the school of hard knocks. Of course, who ever listens to their father!?.

In a confusing world that tells girls to get good grades and “save themselves” for marriage and then shows them they’re nothing without a Pussycat Doll body and a closet full of Jimmy Choos, it’s up to Dads to tell and teach their daughters what they need to know:

No, you can’t have plastic surgery or a webpage.

Yes, I do know what’s best for you. You will pass that test; you will find a boyfriend someday; you can absolutely do anything you set your mind and spirit to; you are beautiful. And, yes, I do love you and always will.

A Dad needs to emphatically impress upon his daughter that everything she hopes to be, have, or experience in her life – all her hopes and dreams – will be predicated on how well or not well she manages money from a young age.

He needs to explain that money is a means of independence and self-respect, and that without savings and the ability to support herself, she’ll feel pressured to stay in bad situations – everything from crummy apartments to dead-end jobs and dead-beat boyfriends. He should teach her how to work hard, save what she earns, and invest what she saves.

Every Dad should teach his daughter how to make simple repairs around the house, fire up a grill, change the oil in her car, start a lawn mower, and tell a decent guy from a deadbeat.

A father should tell his daughter about the two-strike rule: if someone makes you feel badly about yourself once –address the situation and give things a second chance. If that person makes you feel lousy a second time – drop them like a bad cell phone connection.

Three strikes make an out in baseball. But in real life, he should tell her, two strikes are enough to call foul.

Dads should tell their daughters that it’s never okay for someone to hurt you — verbally or physically.

Dads should explain that life is about choice: What you get in life, who you become, who you love and who loves you back, is 99% a result of the choices you make every day, beginning today. So, make the right ones as often as you can. And if you make a choice that turns out to be wrong, back up and start over.

A Dad should tell his daughter that despite his great advice he knows she’s going to make mistakes. And when she does, she can come to him.

Nothing, he should say, is too messy, too personal, or too horrible to make him stop loving her.

Posted on December 2nd, 2008Comments RSS Feed
13 Responses to Fatherly lessons I wish I’d had
  1. M.C., if I had had a daughter, I would have wanted her to be just like you even though you had to learn these life’s lessons sans Papa.

    Quite possibly, if you had a father around you may not have turned out as nice and sensitive as you are. You may have grown to be an insensitive and self-centered bitch.

    Or, you wouldn’t have turned out so politically naive.

    Nonetheless, I appreciate the person that you are.

  2. Very well said John!

  3. Mary, what a wonderful story.
    Listen, while I have always had parents and cannot relate to mush your feelings, I can in a way because just last year I lost my mother and the year before, my father. You know Mary, while it’s certainly true your father may have instilled certain lessons to lear, but then again, who really knows. I know one thing, from experience, when you are severed from family ties, you become more dependent and certain strenghts you never knew you had, become used and you become stronger. So Mary, John has a couple good points; whose to know if you would have become such a strong person that you’ve become (and talented maybe because of the lessons you learned yourself). But Mary, one thing for certain, you have som ewonderful “male” friends here that would certainly be more than happy to listen to you should you ever call upon us. I know I can speak for Steve and John and you know I’m there for ya Mary. So never feel that you’re alone in this world and as Morrisey once said, “all ya need are friends”, and you can surely consider us your friends and can count on us for support. Heck, we would have to fight to adopt ya…

  4. Ok, Mary, ya need “Spell Check” here…man, the grammar mistakes…yikes!!!!!

  5. Well, heck, I didn’t mean the piece to sound like a sob story, but I do wish I’d had a fatherly influence in my life and appreciate everyone’s awfully kind words!

  6. Mary, after the rest of the “gang” reads your response, they will fully understand; completely – especially this time of year. We are all here for ya.
    Respectfully, Dan Zumbro
    P.S. Mary, ya think it would be possible to incorporate “spell-check” in your blog; feel like a goof here….. ha

  7. Join the rest of us spell NO check goofballs Dan:-)I am the King…Nice words Dan and I believe MC knows the bloggers are here for her and don’t think she would want to be adopted by Perkins:-)

  8. Thank you much Steve…
    Ok Mary, and this was from my father when we were at the dinner table and he was speaking in front of my mom, he said: “The way to a man’s heart, is through his stomach”. And you know, this has been true for centuries and will still be true, long after we’re all gone. I would have done it differently and if I were to be fond of a girl, I would cook a great meal to try to “win her over”. But you know.. even with everyone being more independent and are getting married at a much older age, this one still holds true. A good “home cooked” meal will always win.So Mary and you can hold me to this, if there is ever anyone you are particulary “fond of”, Debbie and I will come over and prepare a great dinner for you both. (and clean up afterwards). I cook up a pretty mean standing rib roast or rack of lamb…. But then again, you have never mentioned if you cook or not… Well, the offer will still be there…

  9. Listen Dan if MC turns you down I will take shrimp over angel hair with some nice hot sauce..Thanks and I will do the dishes and cleanup:-)

  10. Hey Steve and how about if I throw in some scallops, mussels and little-neck clams with a nice marinara sauce, some fresh basil and roasted garlic and a bottle of Pino Griggio… ok, gettin hungry. Gotta go. Take care and talk at everyone later. Have a good weekend everyone.

  11. I am there..Just add some real hot spices to the sauce!:-)

  12. John W. Perkins
    December 8, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    “and don’t think she would want to be adopted by Perkins:-)”

    It would make for an interesting Woody Allen-esque incestuous relationship.

  13. Now that would be a movie I would pay for John!


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