My mum taught the creativity, the passion and how to win at Scrabble, but my dad taught other important lessons.
Standing at the 100-metre line dangling a Redskin may not have been a conventional approach, but he sure knew how to make a 5-year-old with a sweet tooth keep their eye on the prize and learn about goals and rewards.
|The writer, as a child, with her father.|
In fact, at a breakneck 19 seconds, I broke the under-6's 100-metre record at my local Little Athletics club to get to reach that goal.
He encouraged me and my brothers to achieve our goals, but he never pressured. A year later, he waited patiently as I dog-paddled my first (arduously slow) mile swim at the local club, long after everyone else had departed the pool.
While small moments like those stay with you, so do the greater themes and, for me, those are loyalty, perseverance and the unconditionality of love.
I was never a daddy's girl and he was never under any illusion about who I was. I was a terror of a child in many ways and tore a blazing, destructive trail through my teenage years.
But while I railed, dad rallied, and while I harmed, he was always there to help.
I have touched previously on some of the darkness of those days.
During that time and for a good while after I had the self-destruct button pushed in hard and resented anyone who tried to ease me away from it.
There were many reasons why and although our family was loving and incredibly close there was also deep turbulence. At the same time that I was sick, so was my mum and both of us were in hospital for the better part of two years.
But Dad was a rock.
I know his heart was breaking and it must have been tempting to walk away from the turmoil. But, he stayed, gently holding the threads of our family together.
And not only that, he did it with a steady, loving heart.
I needed him and he was there.
Sadly, not enough dads realise the impact they have on their daughters' lives. One study found only 30 per cent of fathers believed that active involvement in their daughter's life was vital to her health and well being.
This is despite recent findings that the dad's influence is as great, and sometimes greater than the mother's.
Dads, as has been well documented, impact girls' interactions with men later in life.
"In my years of psychology practice, I've met very few women who did not unconsciously or consciously pick a romantic partner based on the characteristics of her father," says clinical psychologist Jennifer Kromberg.
Dads also affect their daughters self esteem, independence and stress levels.
According to a report by the US Department of Health and Human Services: "Children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections."
For my part, my father is now one of my best friends. There is not a soul I respect or love more than my dad.
I am acutely aware that not all dads are like this and there are plenty of women (and men) who have been without a father or at least without a worthy one.
But one thing we should never do is underestimate the importance of dads.
Mums@Work 20 Sep 13
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
By: Sarah Berry 27 Aug 2013