My daughter will be 16 in just a few months. She is very active in high school; she marches in the Color Guard for the school band, acts in plays and puppet shows, and performs in the Junior Varsity show choir group. She belongs to the school’s LGBT discussion group and doesn’t hesitate to stand up for the LGBT students in her school, even taking some of the staff to task when needed.
She gets good grades and works hard at everything she does. She is wonderfully intelligent and funny, with a bitting, smart, and sarcastic wit. Above all, she is confident and a very strong young woman who knows that she can do anything that she puts her mind to.
She doesn’t suffer fools, especially the misogynistic kind, gladly. I’ve heard her put boys who try to belittle her because of her gender in their place, usually leaving them speechless.
Her mom and I divorced when she was 8 years old. I got custody of my two children, her and her brother.
Being a single father hasn’t been easy, but I’ve dealt with it by always being honest with my kids and letting them know, by word and deed, that they could tell me anything and that, while I may disapprove of some of the things they might do, I’d always talk to them about it, rather than just punish them (although there were always consequences).
My daughter has never (to my knowledge anyway) hesitated to talk to me. She asks advice about boys, about how to deal with kids who bully her at school, about problems with friends.
When she started becoming interested in boys, and especially after her first period, the subject of sex naturally came up. I approached the topic with her in the same way I had with her older brother; as something that is natural and part of being human, but that can have serious consequences, both physical and emotional. I explained about safe sex and why it is so important. Even though she was only 14 at the time I told her (as I did her brother) that I’d rather have her come to me as ask for contraception if she felt that sexual relations were at all a possibility. Sure, I would have a long a serious talk with her about why she was too young for that kind of relationship and I’d certainly do everything I could to keep her out of situations where sex could happen. But there are quite a few girls my daughter’s age and younger at her school who are or have been pregnant, and shit, as they say, happens.
Photo by looking4poetry
Ever since she was a little girl I resolved to raise her to be the most confident, strongest woman possible. I was determined that she would not be held back by a sexist society.
The woman on her mother’s side of the family have a habit of treating the boys like gods to be worshiped and the girls like, well, shit. It went back generations. Nothing the girls did was ever good enough. It led to terrible self esteem in the women in her family. I decided that my daughter wasn’t going to suffer this fate. That shit was going to stop with her mother’s generation.
I’d always been a big supporter of women’s equality, but my love for my daughter and my determination to raise her to be a strong and confident woman made me an outspoken about women’s rights
I see in my daughter all the possibilities that the world can offer. I see someone who can attain anything she sets her mind to. And I refuse to sit in silence while society attempts to put obstacles in her way, just because she’s female.
I am proud of the person my daughter is and the woman she is becoming. While she has the normal doubts about herself that we all have, she is a young woman who doesn’t take any shit from anyone about anything, especially because she’s a woman.
My daughter moved me to tears recently when she told me and her step-mom that she is happy with who she is and that it is because of me and how I’ve raised her. She said that I gave her the confidence and love that she needed to be successful at the things she does. She said that, in effect, I have been both her father and her mother. Whenever people ask me what the best job I’ve ever had is, I always say that it is being a dad. She gave me the best job review anyone could ever have.
She also gave me something else. The courage to proudly say that I am a feminist and the determination to do what I can to support all women in fighting against sexism and misogyny.
One of the most important lessons that I can pass on about being a parent is that you can learn just as much from your children as they can from you, as long as you are willing to listen to the lessons they teach you.
Featured Image by John Oxton