To Dad With Love
By Salma El-Shayeb
Growing up as an only child wasn’t fun. I always wanted a brother or sister to play with, like most kids. Little did I know that this would contribute to what may be the most important bond I would have in my entire life. Whatever limited time my father spent at home because of his ever-so-demanding job, was mine. It always strikes me how when we get older, we tend to discover how our parents had so much to do with how we perceive life. Their words, however boring they were back when they were said, come rushing in our minds reminding us of who we are.
My close relationship with my dad (as is the case with many other girls) was my first male-female relationship. There’s so much a girl can learn from a healthy relationship with her dad. It is a bond that is seldom talked about in our society, and it passes by unnoticed. I have learned throughout the years that the relationship between fathers and daughters is much deeper than just being “daddy’s little girl.”
By knowing that my father is there for me, and that I can express myself to him whenever I want, I learned self-respect. When daughters are able to negotiate with their parents, especially their dads, it gives them confidence that they are heard and that their words are worth listening to. In general, children regard themselves as they think others regard them, and who is more important than your own parents to reflect that sense of self-confidence! Negotiating with my father gave me the confidence to be able to negotiate with my husband, co-workers and male friends later on in life. My dad always gave me the respect that taught me that a female’s opinion is as important as a male’s in society, religion and thus, in life.
The first reflections of a girl’s idea of her life partner are shaped through her relationship with her dad. It can either be that she would feel that, “I like this and that about dad and I want my husband to have the same qualities,” or it can be the opposite. Either way, the better the quality of the time spent with dad, the more a girl is relaxed around other men. By being relaxed and affectionate around her father, a girl learns that within certain boundaries, it is okay to be affectionate towards her partner. Feeling comfortable giving dad a hug, and watching TV on his lap, teaches a girl that a female is not always regarded as a sexual object… That displaying emotions within a family context is a sign of love and respect. In short, dads give us girls our first understanding of the true respect a man should give a woman.
Throughout my life, I have always considered my father to be my sponsor. He stood up for me and always had the right words to say whenever I wasn’t feeling well. As time goes by, I understand more and more the importance of having someone in your life who really doesn’t want anything from you. We might not realize this while we are growing up, but our parents really don’t ask us to do much for them. Their unconditional love and selfless acts carry us throughout our ups and downs. Parents nowadays have many sources of information thanks to the endless book titles, nanny programs, and of course the Internet. They can take courses and ask experts and have an answer to as many questions as they need. Our fathers and mothers did not have all that back then. I mean, sure, they had some books here and there, but they mainly acted out of intuition and common sense…. Not to underestimate the power of scientific development or anything, but when I come to analyze it, I can’t help but admit that back then, this “common sense” was much more developed. On the contrary, now as parents we seem to rely on the opinion of therapists, teachers in schools, and other people around us. Our common sense that is given to us by nature has become less sharp, and therefore, less accurate.
It’s fascinating how when I read parenting books, or do some research for my work in education, or even talk to therapists, it all seems to boil down to the same advice given to me long ago by my dad. Learning how to go about in life, how to be confident and the tools needed to be a healthy human being are just ever so constant. When I look at my father’s life and put myself in his shoes, I cannot help but be amazed at how he is such a resilient person. He managed to go about this life being a role model for me and teaching me how to face up to a challenge with the same positive spirit and the most amazing smile.
Words of wisdom are always spoken by my dad, not because he is a superhero (though to me he is), but because they are spoken from the heart. I’m sure a lot of you will share this feeling of appreciation I have for my father, and will seal this admiration for all the true dads out there by a simple toast…To dad, with love!
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