There's no denying the power and influence moms have on their daughters' upbringing and transformation into young women. My younger sister and I were raised in a two-parent household with a very authoritative, strong mom to whom I attribute many of the lifelong lessons I've learned. But, luckily for us, my dad was there alongside my mother to coach and mentor us during our most crucial teen and adult years.
While maternal figures are commonly associated with enforcing certain values in young girls, dads do it, too. I know because I've experienced this firsthand. I believe that the support received from dads is equally important in the upbringing of strong, independent women.
My dad and I may not share the same gender, but many of the unexpected little things I've learned specifically from him have impacted my continuous growth into a woman. Here are a few of them.
1. The drive to go after what you want.
Although my father has the least aggressive personality in my household, it doesn't mean that he doesn't enforce the importance of being aggressive when it comes to achieving my educational and career goals. I am a first-generation college graduate, and my dad has opened his mind up to learning the American college system to coach me through the application process. He's scoped out internships and companies of interest and always assures me that I am completely capable of achieving my goals. My father has always been a supportive voice of reason for all of my career and educational decisions and still remains so to this day.
2. The importance of taking care of yourself.
Being the only male in a house full of women will also make you no stranger to women's health and feminine care, but these topics have never been too taboo to bring up around my dad. My dad has never tiptoed around talking to me and my sister about our physical or mental health. Feeling depressed? I can tell my dad. Stomach cramps got me down? I can talk to him. Being able to remain open with my father on things that would make most men uncomfortable has molded how I view my male counterpart's views and reactions to women's health.
3. Traditional gender roles are a thing of the past.
At a glance, my dad is your "average macho man." I typically associate all handiwork with him, and although he is a great handyman, he has never been opposed to doing things or teaching my sister and me things that aren't typical for our gender. My dad has (terribly) styled my hair, gone for pedicures with my mom, cooked dinner after work, cleaned, and done laundry . . . just like my mom. He has also held a job in a female-dominant company for more than 15 years, and he has formed respectable professional relationships with his female superiors — and has never questioned their intelligence or power. There has also never been a such thing as a "woman's job" in my household. Except for when there's been a really tight jar of pasta sauce to uncap . . . he's a pro at that.
4. To be who you are at all times.
My mom and dad are quite the opposites: my father is more reserved and my mom is more outspoken. Watching my father interact with my mom and genuinely let her be who she is for 20-plus years of marriage has set a great example for me. This has shown me that women do not need to be timid or silenced in their everyday lives. In fact, my dad has embraced that he lives with three very unique (and sometimes overwhelming) ladies, but he encourages us to fearlessly express ourselves because we are human and it is totally OK to be who you are.