I was reminded of two extremely important things my Dad did for me all of growing up:
1. He pushed me to do things I didn’t think I could
My dad was always pushing me to do things that I thought were beyond my ability. I remember asking him to go on a leisurely bike ride when I was little. What I got was a 6 hour bike tour all over our town and my Dad encouraging and pushing me all along the way (even though I was surely complaining). I think in the end he actually had to tie a rope to my bike and pull me up some of the hills.
I remember many hiking trips where there were tall cliffs and boulders and things that my young mind thought “I shouldn’t be doing at that age” and yet my dad always knew that I was capable of more than I thought I was.
I think as parents we have a tendency to want to shelter and protect our kids. My Dad was always pushing me to go beyond my abilities because he knew I could do more. That has stayed with me today. There are times when I’m facing challenges that I think are beyond my abilities, and I quickly remember that I can do more than I think I can.
2. He supported me no matter what.
My Parents hated computers growing up. They hated everything about them – the parts, the complexity, the fact that they would always break. I loved computers, I was naturally drawn to them at a young age. My Dad, knowing this, always made sure we had a computer in the house. I was the only one who could really do anything with it, but that was okay because he saw me learning more every day.
My older teenage brother had an old forest green Toyota Landcruiser. The same type of car my dad had owned when he was a teenager. This was something he enjoyed, and he supported my older brother by helping to buy parts for “the cruiser”.
I remember once asking him for $75 to pay for half of a Pentium 2 75MHz processor (this was probably 1993, when 75 MHz was cutting edge!). He didn’t know what a Pentium 2 was, but I remember him calling this “my cruiser” and was happy to go in and pay for half.
At about the same age I got really interested in martial arts (probably just fighting in general) and I wanted to take Taekwondo. My mom thought I was being a typical “flighty kid” (and that it was expensive) and so she told me to go “ask your Dad” thinking that he would probably agree. To her (and mine) surprise, my Dad responded by saying that “I think you should try as many different things as you can when you are young” and supported me.
To my Mom’s credit, she was the one who ended up taking me to all the classes I didn’t stick with it for a long time, but I did long enough to get my orange belt (it’s right after white) and I feel like I learned a lot.
There are lots of traits that make a great Dad, but I think these two are really key: supporting your kids no matter what and pushing them to do more than they think they can. Thanks Dad!