Most of the relationships between fathers and daughters I’ve seen are either extremely easy and loving or unnecessarily difficult and complicated. Then there are those that are alternately easy, difficult, loving and complicated.
Unfortunately, my relationship with my own father was just complicated. When parents are unhappy and their marriage is strained, their children (especially only children) often feel forced to take sides or, as it was in my case, to take on the role of peacemaker.
Neither role should be assumed by anyone under the age of twelve. Having to mediate the ongoing debate between my parents forced me to grow up fast, and has had a lasting impact on the way I view relationships to this day.
To be fair, there are things I learned simply from observing or being around my father that have also had a positive impact on my career. I still remember accompanying him to civic and business events in my early teens and receiving instructions on how I should help him “work the room.”
So, in honor of Father’s Day, I feel compelled to share some of the most valuable lessons the first man in my life taught me before I escaped at the age of 20:
- Be on time. If you have set an appointment with anyone, make sure you show up five minutes in advance. If, for some reason, you’ve found yourself delayed, contact the person waiting for you (one way or another) to advise them you’ll be late – and remember to apologize. Nothing is more disrespectful than being late; it suggests you believe your time is more important than their time.
- Working is a privilege. You get paid to work whether it’s by the hour, by the week or by the month. When you agree to work for any company or any person, you have agreed to work as hard as you can to accomplish the tasks that are being assigned to you.
- You are not paid to complain. Nor are you paid sit around and gripe with other employees or perform your job incorrectly. If you have no intention of working at your highest potential you should quit and give someone else the opportunity to do good work and make money.
- Raises and bonuses should not be expected. They shouldn’t come just because of your length of time at a particular job. They are offered because you have succeeded and earned them by performing over and above what you were hired to do.
- Pay your debts first. If you have any debt, it is your first responsibility to pay it off before you spend your extra money on frivolous items.
- Get involved with your city. Don’t complain about how things are being handled if you haven’t put your own time and energy into serving your city through committees, councils or civic organizations.
- Voting is a responsibility. If you’re a United States citizen and do not register to vote you’re irresponsible. And if you’re registered to vote but do not bother to cast your ballot, you’re just stupid.
Happy Father’s Day to every father who is raising or has ever raised a daughter. I hope you realize the lessons we learn from you every day – whether you mean to teach them or not.
“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” – George Herbert