1. You learn that emotions are neither masculine nor feminine. A good man knows that feeling is natural, whether you’re a boy or a girl, so he teaches his children to embrace their emotions. Tears don’t make a person weak, and “girly” isn’t a synonym for vulnerability. We all feel sad, angry, confused, happy, scared, tired and bored sometimes. And we’re all equally entitled to express our moods however we see fit. Emoting isn’t the realm of either sex.
2. You learn that men and women are equals. Your dad was always just as likely to cook or do the dishes as your mom was to mow the lawn or take out the garbage. When it comes to selecting hobbies, after school activities, courses, interests, and clothing, you’ve been trained to disregard gender altogether. You’ve watched your mom and dad operate as a unit and long ago internalized the concept of equality of the sexes.
3. You learn that you’re beautiful. A good man adores his children and makes them feel beautiful at all times—when they’re looking somewhat grubby in their PJs on a Saturday afternoon, and when they’re dressed in their best for their first school dance. When a good man looks at you, his eyes always exude positivity, warmth, and acceptance. So you learn to accept yourself as you are, feeling self-assured in your own skin no matter what you’re wearing.
4. You also learn that you are so much more than your looks. You know that you are beautiful, but that your appearance doesn’t actually matter all that much—at least not compared to your personality, heart, and brain. There are so many characteristics that define you as a human being beyond the physical stuff—so many more important traits aside from facial features, height, and weight. You know this, and you’re glad that’s the case.
5. You learn that you really can do anything. A good man sets you up to believe that there’s no limit to what you can achieve, as long as you’re willing to work hard and keep trying. You’ve never felt bound by conventions or norms in carving out your ambitions. Dad never laughed at your grand plans or derailed your dreams, no matter how impossible they seemed. Instead, he always encouraged you to go for it.
6. You learn to keep going, no matter what. A good man teaches the value of failure—that every single experience is worth something as long as you take the time to extract a lesson from it. When you’re down and out, he urges you to take some time to heal, then implores you to move forward. Because Life doesn’t stop for anyone.
7. You learn that you deserve to be treated well. When you grow up witnessing firsthand how a good man treats people, you develop a sense of justice. You know that it’s your responsibility to respect others, and that you too deserve to be treated respectfully. You don’t bother with people who are rude or mean. You are kind, and you demand the kindness you deserve in exchange.
8. You learn that there’s no rush to settle down. A good man never pressures his kids to date or to find a mate “before it’s too late.” He lets them blossom at their own speed, never enforcing the notion that finding a life partner or entering into marriage is essential to personal happiness. He imparts that there are many paths to fulfillment, and that it’s your job to carve out your own, with or without a spouse.
9. You learn that you have a permanent fan. Your dad will always love you, even when you mess up royally. He understands. He forgives. He listens. He’s there for you. He is your rock, even when you don’t really deserve one.
10. You learn that you’re lucky. As the years pass and you encounter jerk after jerk—bullies and internet trolls and frenemies and two-timing bitches—you’ll you look back on your upbringing and think, “Wow, I’m lucky.” There are so many assholes out there, but you were raised by one of the good ones.