I have been thinking a lot about the best gift my Dad ever gave me – the confidence and ability to think. If you are a guy, you probably don’t see this as a big deal, because men are expected, trained, and socialized to think.
But for a girl, and now a woman, it was a gift to be respected and appreciated for the quality of my thinking. As a young girl, I would constantly be told by others that I think too hard or too much, although never by my Dad. He and I would often argue about what I was thinking, but never that I thought too much! We argued about religion, politics, race relations, world views, and patriotism along with what constituted proper behavior. We argued a lot, but I always knew that he respected and encouraged my ability to think – logically, independently, and intuitively.
He encouraged me to “go into computers” because I had good math skills and he thought the industry had good potential for women. This was at a time when most college-bound women were still being slotted into teaching or nursing careers. I took his advice and afterward landed a great job with IBM that gave me the skills for a successful consulting career today. Later in life it was fun to have “solve the world” conversations as adults, because he was always up on the news and we both loved complicated problems to solve.
So, for you fathers of daughters — make sure they know how important it is to you that they are independent thinkers, and engage them in big discussions even if it makes your hair curl when they tell you what they think! You will be giving your girl the gift of a lifetime – and maybe a career – in having the courage and confidence to be herself and use the God-given talents she possesses.