I was a Daddy’s girl, and always will be. My father adored, doted and pampered me. Whenever I needed him, all I had to do was look back, and he always was there. My official driving and swimming coach, my friend, philosopher and guide, Dad was always the word. And I’m pretty positive that this is how it’ll always remain. For him, I’ll always be his baby.
However, as much he babied me, he also taught me to be independent. To stand on my feet. And to find my way out on my own when needed. Because he firmly believed in not treating me differently because I was a girl. In giving me the same freedom as my brother, with the same expectations in terms of extra-curricular activities, academics and family responsibilities from all children. When I was learning to swim, he threw me into the pool, standing on the side and watching cautiously, ready to jump in should the need arise, but making sure that I had to wade and find my way through out first. And endless lessons such as these. Not because he didn’t want to protect me, but because he knew how important it was to teach his daughter to fight the world.
Having read about, shadowed and listened to the stories of multiple successful woman, I’ve noticed that there’s a very close trend between successful woman, and the relationship they share with their fathers. Not to say that ones who didn’t have supportive fathers, or fathers at all, didn’t do well, but a lot of the ones who were fortunate in this department do attribute part or full success to their fathers’ support. influence and contribution in their lives.
And I can understand why. For most girls, a father, or a father-like figure is the first serious male influence they have in their lives. And because early experiences go a long way in making us who we are, how they treat, nurture and guide us eventually play a significant role in our own perceptions of ourselves, our abilities and confidence levels. With most of the world, particularly the professional sphere still being largely male dominated, initial experiences with males matters a lot. Particularly on how much or how little they celebrate or undermine you.
Fathers with daughters, listen up! I understand, that you’re very protective about your bundles of joy, and if it in were your hands, you’d probably never let her out of your sight, let alone out into the big, bad world. But it’s crucial you understand how vital your role as a father to your daughter is in her future success. Chances are that your little princess idolizes you and considers you her superhero. Which only means that everything you say, do or imply has a deeper impact on her than you’re probably aware. So please remember to praise more than criticize, and to encourage more than discourage. It matters, truly.
In this highly competitive, and often unforgiving world, we need more girls who grow up to be tough cookies than we currently do – woman who go on to become icons in fields ranging from business to literature. And you need to play a non-negotiable part in this process. Advise your daughter everything that you’ve yourself learnt, but allow her to figure out life’s tough lessons through self-experiences rather than speeches and sermons. Teach her, that she must grow up to be someone who must be responsible for herself- financially, socially and emotionally. Encourage her to try things the hard way, for while that might be difficult, it’s also mostly the right way. And most importantly, keep her on the same pedestal as your son for discrimination lowers confidence and self-belief. Raising a child is best done with an innate vision, and how you encourage, inspire and motivate your daughter, might just be the difference in whether you’re raising a woman of substance or not.
And as for me and my father, I always will be Daddy’s Little Girl, but then we’ve come a long way. From being father and daughter, to colleagues, and even friends, our relationship has taken new facets as we pass through life. Yes, as a grown adult, my version of him as a ‘superhero’ has most certainly evolved, with me being better aware of his strengths and weaknesses. And I understand, and fully appreciate that it probably wasn’t easy for him to let his little girl out into the world, teaching her to fight when he could have kept her protected in his shell. But one thing’s for sure – I will forever be thankful and indebted to Dad for whatever he gave me. The gift of confidence. Of independence. Of the right to individuality. And of course, for always being the wind beneath my wings.