Here’s to You, Dad

June 13, 2008

My dad is 86 and going strong. He’s a voracious reader, so getting him a book he hasn’t read is always a challenge. But no matter what I end up with, he never lets on that he may have read it before. It’s always, “I’ve heard about this” or “I wanted it but haven’t gotten it yet.” I’ve tried the bookstore gift card approach, but he never seems to remember to bring the cards with him to the bookstore and apparently has quietly stashed piles of them in a drawer.

At the bookstore this year the collection under the “Gifts for Dad” sign focused on sports, cars, and the military — the typical assumed choices for dads, but certainly limiting. So I ended up doing an unofficial poll right on the spot and asked a few men what kinds of books they would want as gifts from their daughters. (Yes, I self-selected, asking if they had daughters.) First they wanted to know who I was with, whether they would be quoted, and if they had to buy anything. Once they were satisfied with my response, they answered my few questions cheerfully.

The results? The first answer, unanimously given, was that they were always happy with any gift their daughter gave them. When probed a bit further, some admitted that their daughters tried to be subtle (or maybe not so subtle) by giving them self-help books on areas their daughters thought needed improvement. After that, the answers were as diverse as the men were, depending on their personal interests. But the overwhelming sense of pride these individuals had in their daughters was evident, as almost everyone talked more about their daughter than about the subject at hand.

Dads and Daughters, led by longtime Title IX champion and AAUW ally Joe Kelly, is an advocacy nonprofit that encourages fathers to engage in their daughters’ lives. In an earlier interview with AAUW, Kelly cited Dads & Daughters logostudies correlating fathers’ presence at home, time spent child rearing, and affection shared with daughters with a later onset of puberty in girls, which in turn reduces the chances of teen pregnancy, depression, alcohol consumption, and disturbed body image. A study of third- and fourth-graders found a link between fathers’ provision of warmth and their daughters’ higher academic achievement. Joe’s blog in honor of Father’s Day, which appears on the newly revised Dads and Daughters website, also reminds us to honor our stepdads this year.

So here’s to dads! While we honor them on Sunday, I thought one of the answers a dad gave me summed it up best. “I have two daughters,” he said. “But we gave up celebrating Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) years ago. We decided to celebrate being a dad and mom everyday!”

By:   |   June 13, 2008

7 Comments

  1. Angela Cooper says:

    My dad is no longer alive, and I miss him dearly, but fortunately for me, I have nothing but great memories. I also have a wonderful husband and two terrific brothers, so I too share in your toast to dads!

  2. Jan says:

    Watching the wonderful tributes to Tim Russert, I have seen many references to his book dedicated to his father, “Big Russ” and then those talking about Tim as a father himself. Each commentator mentioned the strength of fatherhood in that family over these three generations.

    I am lucky in that my father understood what a powerful role he played in his daughter’s life, and that he is such a positive role model. So, here’s to you too, dad!

  3. Jeannette says:

    I especially like the comments from the dad who said they celebrate being parents everyday. My husband and I feel the same way.

  4. Alaine says:

    Unfortunately my father taught me nothing but to fear him and to be an angry young woman. He married a controlling and the most self-centered woman who is my mother. After spending 3 years in therapy and $8500.00 I can say I have let all that he taught me go and start over again. I can do better than him in raising my children. I pray that I won’t make the same mistakes that he did.

  5. christyjones says:

    Thanks for your honesty, Alaine. Your point brings in the other side of parenting, those parents (whether father or mother) who abuse their children physically or emotionally. It reinforces the need for prevention and education as for many “parenting skills” were not passed on from one generation to another.

  6. […] AAUW, we truly appreciate the great fathers and other men in our lives who encourage us to follow our dreams. Now geek dads (and granddads, […]

  7. […] AAUW, we truly appreciate the great fathers and other men in our lives who encourage us to follow our dreams. Now geek dads (and granddads, […]

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