1. A father learns to listen.
I learned the beauty and power of a woman’s voice. Like my daughter who spoke out strongly when she saw injustices done to women. Her outrage fueled her. I was learning. And I saw my daughters’ voices belittled and minimized, even by dad. Sometimes they would shrink, which hurt terribly. Other times they would fight back. Yeah! But why should they have to? A woman’s voice needs to be heard.
2. A father learns his daughters don’t need a man to save them.
Life has thrown my daughters plenty of curveballs, and I could never stand watching them struggle and be hurt. All I wanted to do was come in as a superhero and save them. But they wouldn’t let me. They were becoming too strong. And when one daughter had raucous boys of her own and often felt trapped, I saw her find something deep within that rumbled her overwhelm into underwhelm. She didn’t need a dad (or any man) to save her.
3. A father learns determination can get you anything.
When a daughter really wants to do something, it’s going to happen. Like my stepdaughter got through college in a few years, got a scholarship to pay for it, and had a job lined up before she even started school. But she also wanted to be a great mom and wife. She didn’t have enough time for everything. But the things she did do, by sheer determination, inspired me to do so much more myself.
4. A father learns passions can become real.
One daughter burned with desire to help young girls. She wanted them to have courage. Courage to overcome challenges, to do hard things, to fight for what’s right, or at least to try. And she wanted them to be crowned with virtue. She had a dream, a big one, of how to do it. And she started a movement, with an outdoor summit as the crowning event. Each year girls and boys dress up as medieval characters and enact a two-day play that teaches them courageous things.
5. A father learns to overcome loss.
When all my daughters were together (including daughters-in-law), life was like a day at the beach. But then one of them was gone. In a terrible instant, death claimed one of our girls. My grief was monumental. The winter cold never seemed to end. But eventually I saw the thaw of spring take hold in our daughters’ lives. Over time they adjusted (and so did dad), and we began living life anew. It wasn’t the same, but it was life.
6. A father learns she knows things he doesn’t.
I learned that when they intuit, you’d better do it. Unless you want extra angst and hassle. My daughters’ intuition, and my wife’s, could’ve saved me countless problems if I’d just listened. The women in my life often saw and knew things that I didn’t. Yes, my own intuition was right some of the time. But without the things they knew, I was just a ship with a broken rudder. My daughters also taught me how to read people better. And they all knew I needed that.
7. A father learns old dogs can learn new tricks.
My daughters wanted a better life. They wanted to leave behind the bad old traditions passed down the generations. When one daughter told me about sometimes getting too angry at her kids like her dad did, I cringed. And when I saw her trying to change, to overcome, to break the cycle, and then do well, I felt hope. Maybe dads can keep growing, too, and overcome their pasts.
8. A father learns you can love another as your own.
I’ve learned that all are family, and all need love. And I’ve seen selfless love. When our daughter was gone, she left two small children. And then another daughter came into our life. One who had suffered a terrible loss of her own. But she took her new children under her wing and cared for them. Her heart expanded, and everyone, even this dad, became the beneficiaries. Love really has no bounds. I learned there are dimensions of love that I didn’t even know existed.
9. A father learns the joy of giving.
I saw daughters give, and give, and give too much. But through their giving, they became stronger, I became stronger, and everyone they gave to became stronger. My daughters expanded my vision, and gave me the swift kick in the pants I needed. They taught me that I had more to give than just work and material things. I could be like them and give more time.
10. A father learns to be a better man.
I learned that life is better with a partner, a family, and others as part of it. Yes, I saw my daughters do superhuman things. They didn’t need a man telling them what to do. But they did want to share their joys with equals. And they are. A life with family and friends is a life worth living. This father is a better man because of the strong daughters in his life.