I used to think women’s issues were women’s issues…until I watched the transformation of my own Father. I watched him drop his old school ways of looking at things and even question the cultural norms he grew up with.
Last year, Dr. Cheryl Siegel was the keynote speaker for the Lucy Hobbs Project. Although I did not hear her speak personally, I read her comments later. She told the audience:
I believe my Father held similar viewpoints as Cheryl remarked. He did underestimate the abilities of women and the abilities of his own two girls. But, maybe that’s not fair: I am not sure he underestimated them as much as he was ignorant to what a girl could do. He had never seen things done any other way; how could he even estimate what his own child could do, let alone underestimate it, when he only knew what he only knew? How could any of us?
Having a daughter can change things. I know it did for my Dad. Sometimes it wasn’t as willingly as I would have liked, but it did happen, and I am definitely going to take some credit for challenging his thinking on a number of occasions. My Dad and I shared a common interest: sports. We didn’t chat about stats and players, but we did talk about playing basketball, volleyball, softball, or whatever sport was in season for me. He watched me work hard, play rough, get knocked around, get back up, and reach my goals. It was through these experiences that I believe he began to realize the potential, the heart, and the strength of a girl or woman.
Certainly there were other factors in this growth change for my Dad, but there is something powerful about watching your own child do things you can’t quite imagine. I can only speak about this now that I am a parent, and have watched how my children have transformed me (and they are still young). I can only guess what they will have me believing by the time they graduate or start their careers.
As we continually gain ground with the advancement of women, let us not forget the males in our lives who supported us along the way. I bet some had no clue we could do so much when they first met us; it’s been a pleasure (most of the time) to help educate them, challenge them, and demonstrate to them the equality possible in our genders. If some choose to stay ignorant, we cannot change them.
I firmly believe there are many Dads, Fathers, Pops, and Pa’s out there, like my Dad, who are willing to learn what women have to offer the world. Happy Father’s Day, to all of those Fathers, who are willing to see a blank canvas for the girls and women in their lives.
It truly makes a difference when the canvas is left open—at least in spots–for our creativity, aspirations, and purposes in life. I think that can be said for any person, not only girls or women. I may not have become a dentist without some open areas left on my canvas, and without the support of my Father.
How has your Father or another male in your life positively impacted your success?