I write this not to sing praises to the perfect fathers of the world (in the unlikely chance that such a man exists). I write this in praise of the fathers who try and have tried. I write this as a word of encouragement to keep trying. Even if you have tried and failed in the past, I urge you to please try again.
I was inspired to write this piece out of a thought I had earlier this year. I found myself contemplating the root of the true value of fathers. Growing up, one always hears of how important a “complete family” is, and how important it is that the father remains in the home, but why? Why is it possible for one man’s absence to skew a generation?
Well, to my understanding, a father is a daughter’s first point of reference for a man, and this remains true regardless of parental interaction. The father is the first standard of “What should I allow in a relationship?” or “Do I deserve to be treated like this?”
I write this to all fathers to say keep trying.
While I cannot speak for every culture, I do know the lack of fathers in the black community. Although I cannot relate to that extent, I can imagine it is hard and possibly discouraging at times to be an ideal father when the blueprint never existed. So I say to you fathers, do your best. Learn from your mistakes. Come with your best each and every day.
Show up for the little things. Attend her middle school awards that she acts so embarrassed to see you at. Come to her basketball games even if she is sitting on the bench until the last minute and 30 seconds. Embarrass her at her parent-teacher conferences every once in a while. Cherish those late-night talks, even when she acts as if she would rather be on the phone talking to her friends. Be there. For even how minuscule all of these moments are, they add up, and she will remember.
One day you’re going to look up and she will be gone. She will come to the end of being just your daughter as she enters into her new world grounded in your guidance. Trust in yourself to know that you gave the best you could have at the moment, and even when she is 30-plus nine, continue to be there.
Fathers, you have to remember. Yes, us daughters may point out your flaws; yes, we may say you cannot provide the proper hair advice; yes, we may get frustrated in the store when you are focused on leaving and going back home, but never think of these as negative marks. Keep showing us love; I know we may not be easy all the time.
So on behalf of the daughters, I say thank you for answering the phone to talk about hair. Thank you for going to the mall. Thank you for the countless hours you have spent listening to a ramble of words you have long forgotten.
And for the fathers who have seemingly given up, I urge you to try again during this season of love. Send a card if you cannot make the phone call. It is never too late to show your love until time has finished, so if you are reading this, there is still time.
For future fathers, I urge you to better yourself now. Work on yourself. Become the best man that you can be from now on. Regardless of the mistakes that you will make, mold yourself into that father figure with the grit and endurance that can keep getting up, showing up, and presenting your best self even when it may seem unappreciated or unnoticed. Keep up to par with all your daily obligations and maintain that smile for your loved ones.
I implore you fathers to try your hardest, for the love of your daughters.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Daddy. I love you.