Will that doggone glass ceiling ever break? Will women finally get their champion in The White House?
This was the much repeated question for many in 2016: Hillary Clinton, the long awaited heiress to the presidency was ready to make history, giving millions of young girls the role model they deserve, because as she explained at a NYC luncheon in 2017, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
This bothered me. Both during the 2016 election and still today. Not just because I didn’t want to see Hillary become president, but because I disagree with this sentiment entirely.
Yes – women have made monumental strides since the early suffragists, and for that I am grateful. Yes – role models are important and can give life to a deeply seeded dream longing to break through. And yes – I believe the United States will see a female president in my lifetime (and when Condoleezza Rice decides to run, she will definitely – get my ‘yes’.)
It wasn’t a woman who inspired me
I disagree because I grew up thinking that I could do anything, even become the president of the United States. This confidence was fostered and nurtured as early as I can remember, not because of someone I read about in a book, watched on TV or an elected official.
But because of my dad. That’s right: my male, white, Christian, straight dad. He was my biggest cheerleader – then and now.
“What do you want to be when you grow-up?” he would ask while I sat on his lap or driving in the car. Over the years my riotous mind never ceased with ideas: teacher, writer, athlete, singer, fashion designer, VJ. (Can you tell where I hit my MTV phase?)
No matter what I shouted at him, he made me believe it was possible. He constantly encouraged me along my journey: be it to pursue sports, college, a break from college, become a teacher, travel the world, write, stay-at-home-motherhood. Whatever I tried he pushed me to work harder, taught me limits and his encouragement has never stopped.
The impact a father has on his daughter is far reaching. As one researcher from Wake Forest University explains, “…well-fathered daughters are usually more self-confident, more self-reliant, and more successful in school and in their careers than poorly-fathered daughters…” (That’s me!)
Conversely, “research has shown that daughters who are dissatisfied with their communication interactions with their fathers are more likely to be involved with bad peer relationships, have unpleasant romantic endeavors, and make poor or life-threatening decisions,” that includes becoming pregnant as teens and continuing the cycle of fatherless children and poverty. (Not me.)
Imagine with me for a moment, America elects its first woman president; indeed, a landmark milestone once thought impossible. Young girls coast to coast solidify the moment in their minds forever: the moment they saw someone like them become the most powerful person in the country, in the world. The impact would be colossal, I agree.
Now let me give you another scenario. Every little girl in our country, every little girl, grows up in a home with her father. A father that is committed to her, just as he is committed to her mother. A father that loves her, compliments her skills, her achievements and her beauty. A father who models how a woman should be treated by a man, who supports her goals and dreams, who teaches, motivates, comforts, and guides.
I ask you: which of these two scenarios would have the greatest impact?
We need dads who are present
Most would argue that the former is more realistic. Seeing as 1 on 4 children in America live without a father in the home, sadly, I have to agree. For more than half a century father absence has become a widespread plague in our nation, and the idea of a society where all fathers are present and active in their children’s lives seems impossible.
I’m not saying we need dads who are perfect, my father is far from that. I can rattle off a list of his shortcomings longer than his Italian schnoz, and he can think of more.
But we need dads who try. Dads who are present. Dads who are committed.
As Hilary Clinton advocated: “We have to teach every girl that she is valuable…powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity to pursue and achieve her own dreams.”
On a societal whole, I agree that is important. But even more important — every girl is taught this in her home, day in and day out. How grateful I am that I had that, thanks to a loving father.
What you can do
Educate yourself on the importance of fathers and ways to be a better dad. These are some wonderful resources:
Speak positively about fatherhood; people need to hear that there are good men trying their best to be good dads.
Don’t support shows that portray loser dads. The Homer Simpsons and Ed Bundys of television demean the role of fathers and portrays all men as such losers. Take a stand and refuse to watch.