It was my first day of college. While others showed up with fancy clothes and fabulous furnishings, I was not intimidated in the least. I went armed with a personal mantra, since I knew I was beautiful, I was determined to be more than just a pretty face. If you knew me back then, please hold your laughter.
My dad told me I was beautiful, from a very young age. Since he was my Daddy, whom I loved with all my heart, I believed him.
I grew up the middle child (yawn) with a brother and sister who had movie star looks. It is true. Not only a middle child, I was the only kid who wore thick glasses, dressed in chubby sizes, did not get A’s and B’s on report cards and was height challenged.
Have you heard of the awkward years that kids are supposed to grow out of? That hadn’t happened to me yet, but, I never knew it. I thought I was a knock out.
Dad also laughed at my jokes and complimented my Buster Brown haircuts. He enjoyed being my audience for every performance and speech contest throughout the years.
When report cards came home with comments like, “Kathleen would do better in class if she didn’t talk so much,” he would encourage me with, “You’ll improve next time, Sis.”
I never felt less than. I felt equally as smart and photogenic as my brother and sister. I was full of self confidence because of my Dad’s constant support.
Dad was my biggest fan.
Our parents had no access to parenting books, other than Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care.
It is doubtful they read it. They had no plan. Mom said they prayed a lot.
A child’s basic nature will believe the best about himself or herself if given positive reinforcement. Little girls are profoundly impacted by a father’s love and acceptance. Somehow, Dad was wise beyond his years in how intuitively he raised me.
In a remarkable book about father daughter relationships: That’s My Girl by Rick Johnson, the author explains,
A father impacts every aspect of his daughter’s life—for her entire life. Fathers model, for their daughters, how women should be treated, how men should act, and how a man shows healthy love and affection toward a woman. Perhaps, most importantly, he sets the standard for how his daughter will feel she deserves to be treated by men.”
Dad convinced me I was beautiful inside and out. Then, I married someone who reinforced the certainty. (The truth hit me years later. It amused me to no end, making me eternally grateful for the men in my life.)
Every dad has the potential to alter the course of his daughter’s future, her self perception and her quality of life, by simple, selfless acts of love and encouragement.