Ever since I was a little girl I’ve known that my relationship with my dad was special. He’s always had my back, always believed in my dreams (even when they involved things like being the next Barbra Streisand or having a flying horse), and taught me that the only thing that stands in my way is ultimately me…except in the case of the flying horse. There’s not a shred of doubt in my mind that the reason I’m the strong, self-assured, confident woman today is because I had a dad who encouraged me to be nothing less.
1. You see firsthand the way strong men treat strong women. You see what it’s like to respect others, regardless of gender or status or situation. When you’re raised by a good father, and you’re attached to him, his behavior naturally rubs off on you. Because he leads by example, you follow accordingly. You learn to carry yourself a certain way, to expect a certain level of treatment from people around you. But you also always give it back, because that’s what your dad would do.
2. You’ve always been able to believe in yourself, because someone else believed in you first. Your confidence isn’t cockiness—it’s simply the result of being raised by someone who always told you that you could do whatever you set your mind to. Instead of focusing on the things you’re not capable of, you instead put your mind towards what you know you can accomplish. When you’re raised by a dad who believes in you, it makes it that much easier to believe in yourself.
3. You’ve witnessed that “strength” doesn’t mean being hardened—that strength doesn’t diminish your ability to be kind, caring, and gentle. Being caring and empathetic are not qualities synonymous with being a pushover or being weak. Real strength comes from being multifaceted, from allowing yourself to have layers, from allowing yourself to be strong and soft at the same time. Being able and willing to be there for other people is a quality found in the strongest individuals. And that’s something you learned from watching your dad continuously show up for you.
4. You’re not intimidated by challenges because they inspire you. Challenges excite you. They fuel you. They don’t exhaust you or make you want to curl up into a ball and give up. Instead, they’re kind of why you get up in the morning. You learned from your father to wake up and face life—to never fear it. And it’s impossible to do that if you allow yourself to be intimidated by the tough things.
5. You’re not afraid to stand up for others and most importantly, yourself. Strong people are there for themselves, but they’re also there for others. They show up, they have people’s backs, they cheer people on, and are there for them if they fall. When you’re raised by a dad who was constantly there for you, you know how important it is to do that for others. Eventually it’s just second nature because to you, it’s just what you do. It’s that simple.
6. You learn the power of forgiveness. People make mistakes. You’ve made them yourself time and time again and your dad was constantly there with unconditional love and advice and forgiveness. Strength doesn’t come from hanging onto grudges and refusing to let go. It comes from being able to accept people, flaws and all, and reassuring them that they can always come back to you.
7. You absolutely never throw in the towel and give up. If you’re not afraid of challenges then you’re also not afraid of finishing what you start. You know how to persevere, how to keep going even when the “going” seems impossible. Strong fathers teach the importance of not backing down just because something’s hard. They teach you to put your chin up, hold your shoulders back, and keep on going.
8. You know that you always have people who have your back, and how to be the same for them. One of the key things most strong people have is an even stronger support system. You know you have your friends and your family, especially your dad, in your corner whenever you need them. You know that there’s no merit in going through life alone, even if you’re technically capable. It’s better with the people who love you. It’s always better with the people who love you.
9. You never, ever settle. Your standards for your life, your aspirations, and the people you surround yourself with are extremely high. You don’t allow people to walk all over you, to take advantage of you, or to treat you in a way that makes you feel “less than.” You know what you deserve—you watched your dad lead by example your entire childhood. So you don’t settle. And you never will.
10. You have a best friend like no other. When you’re close with your dad, you have a friend for life. He was there from the literal beginning and he’s the person you know you can call on whenever and he’ll be there. You have a sounding board when you need to talk things out, a shoulder to cry on, and someone to just laugh with whenever you need to. A strong father is a thoughtful leader, a good listener, and a great friend by example. And he raises you to be the exact same way.