Wednesday, January 16, 2013

5 pieces of advice I wish my dad had given me

Boys will put you on a pedestal (so they can look up your skirt): a dad's advice for daughters / Philip Van Munching

"My daddy, he was somewhere between God and John Wayne." - Hank Williams, Jr.

I love my dad times infinity. He is awesome. Of course, I think he'd be pretty darn awesome even if he weren't my dad. I know, right? You're probably sitting there reading this thinking, "Whoa, baby. For a non-touchy feely person, that's awfully touchy feely." And you'd be right. It is, but I want to slide my opinion of my dad in this post right there at the start because, a little bit later on, it'll seem like I'm being Cowface McCowpants when I'm not. Now I've got you wondering, don't I? When I was a kid my dad gave me two pieces of advice that he said would steer me through life. I know what you're thinking: "What did he tell you?" It's going to make you say, "WHAT THE...?" but I'll explain it all, I promise.

My dad said to me: "All men are animals; driving is psychological warfare." I was four the first time he told me this, and I would hear it, regular as clockwork, every year after, until I was in my mid-twenties. Let me put his words in context. I'm one of seven girls in our family. That means that there were seven reasons for my dad to fear his daughters ending up with husbands/partners/boyfriends/girlfriends who didn't treat them well. It weighed on his mind quite heavily. Even more so because I suspect he had lots and lots of girlfriends before meeting mum. It's not anything he'll ever confirm. I think that because he would often tell me, "I don't trust boys. I was one. I know exactly what they're thinking." For sure it's strange advice to give anybody, let alone your daughters, but we humoured him over the years and would dutifully repeat his words back to him when asked to.

Confession: I ignored both parts of his advice because they're not useful to me, they're illogical and, I believe, nonsensical. (See? Now I look like Cowface McCowpants because I blatantly admit that I don't listen to my dad and I think that he gives me silly advice). My sisters ignored the first part only and, as far as driving goes, cut up on the roads like it's all a game of chess. Much the way my dad does. Because my dad gave me such strange advice, I've always been fascinated by books where other fathers do the same. And this one by Van Munching - Boys will put you on a pedestal (so they can look up your skirt) - has some great gems! Not surprisingly, a couple that my dad would wholeheartedly approve of. (Yes, the ones involving the safety of daughters - this must be a father thing).

Boyfriends (Or three simple rules for dating, my teenage daughter): "We live in fear of your dating. We know boys - we were boys - and now that we're the old guys in the situation, we have a pretty good idea of exactly what goes through the minds of young guys. So we fantasize about arming ourselves." (page 45)
I heart the placement of the comma! Ok, this is right up my dad's alley, particularly the quote just above. Advice: date boys that you honestly like; date guys within a year or so of your own age; make sure your boyfriends treat you with respect. This is what I *wish* my dad had said instead.

Cruelty: "Here's the answer that took me years to really understand: people are cruel because they're miserable inside." (page 67)
As in bullying, or how and why kids are mean to each other.

Letting go: "Letting go of all the pain and embarrassment, of all of the "what if?" questions, meant I might actually be happy again." (page 84)
Advice: self-control - how losing it can cost you; letting go - don't hold on to things in the past (even if it is comforting) because how can you find happiness if you're too busy looking behind you; forgiveness - as in you need to forgive yourself.

Grief: "When someone you love dies, there aren't any easy lessons for you to digest..." (page 113)
Advice: forgive people who find your sadness uncomfortable - that's on them not you; force yourself to live - it's not a betrayal because when you move forward you honour them.

Faith: "...but suddenly it became important to figure out what I did believe. Did I have faith of my own?" (page 152)
Advice: forget logic - faith is about believing in what can't be proved logically; find your own answers by listening and asking questions; seek inspiration.

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