Things My Father Failed To Do

Minute Maid l Doin GoodHe brought me outside our little wooden shack and got on one knee to tell me the news. I was in shock and didn’t want to believe what I had just heard. His eyes were sad as he tried, unsuccessfully, to reassure me it would be okay. I would be okay. He kept saying encouraging words, as he usually did, but this time it really sounded like he was reciting words he had practiced over and over in his head.

I couldn’t really listen. He lost me at “divorce.” Tears can’t help but roll down my face as I write about that moment. You see, for that 9-year-old girl, it felt like the world was over. My dad was the only person I trusted, the only one person I always knew would protect me and understand my complex self. He saw good in me…and now he was leaving!

I grew depressed in the days, weeks, and months that followed this event… and it didn’t help that the “divorce papers” as we call them, were delivered while I was having lunch on December 16, exactly the day of my 10th birthday! I guess I didn’t fully accept it until that day…and I felt doomed and hopeless.

Divorce is tough on little girls… especially when that little girl loves spending time with her dad and many memories that “could have happened” get suddenly stolen from her hands:

  1. My father never took me to an amusement park, fishing, to the beach, or to the movies
  2. My dad didn’t’ tuck me in at night or read me any bedtime stories
  3. There were no daddy-daughter dates, in fact, we never even went to a restaurant
  4. My dad didn’t teach me to swim, roller blade, or ride a bike
  5. My dad didn’t help me with homework or school crafts
  6. My dad didn’t call me on the phone – we never had one growing up
  7. My father didn’t go to church with me or even read the scriptures with me
  8. My dad didn’t give me an allowance… and he didn’t buy me books or toys
  9. My father didn’t teach me how to drive
  10. My dad and I didn’t have tea parties and he didn’t throw a Quinceañera party for me

I sometimes turn into my 10-year-old self and want to gift her those tender moments with her daddy… those moments you see played in movies or in unsold photo-frames at the stores. I remember that it wasn’t what my dad did, but what he taught me and who he was – and still is – for me that makes him my hero, and unarguably, one of the protagonists in my life story. He’s a very handsome one, too. :).

Those things my father failed to do or we failed to do together are nothing compared to what he taught me.

Things my dad failed to do - and what he was instead

  1. My dad has loved me when I felt unlovable. He taught me what unconditional love truly means. He’s a loving, affectionate, and affirming dad, and that has impacted my life (and my motherhood journey) in ways he could never imagine.
  2. My dad is a safe place of understanding where I can openly express myself and say what I feel without being judged. He’s an excellent communicator and a natural encourager and motivator. He can tell you he’s disappointed without making you feel like a disappointment.
  3. My dad makes me feel special. He always had a special nickname to call me, or a special story to tell about me. He found good things to say about me and he said them with pride, when most people around me seemed to only find flaws, weaknesses, and “wrongs.”
  4. My dad taught me that life is an adventure and it is meant to be enjoyed. If you get invited, go. If you have something new, don’t wait for a “special occasion” to wear it, use it, or eat it. If you have something to say, say it out loud. His teachings have given me so much freedom to live in the moment and have joy in the journey.
  5. My father taught me to smile at the face of adversity (even though you couldn’t tell from his serious look in pictures), and that complaining or “drama” only makes things worse. His “it is what it is” attitude is so admirable, and it gives me so much perspective.
  6. My daddy makes me laugh… and boy do I love to laugh. I don’t know how he does it, but I can call him when I’m having a fit, a struggle, or a cry-fest, and it all just goes out the window. He’s the funniest dad ever!
  7. My father is easy to please. Maybe easy is not the word. I mean, he wants what he wants and likes what he likes (can you tell I’m his daughter?). What I’m trying to say is that if you want to show him appreciation, you don’t have to guess or second guess… it’s clear. And he’ll get giddy, excited, and smiley. And you’ll hear his appreciation over and over. Gratitude is one of my core values, so this is huge for me.
  8. My daddy is hard working, honest, and diligent, yet balanced. I look up to him because he has always been an entrepreneur, which allowed him to always come home for lunch and take a nap afterward. He had high aspirations for me, yet there wasn’t a specific profession he had in mind, he just wants me to strive to achieve my full potential. So I became a mompreneur against the odds!
  9. My dad taught me to save and that’s why I saved enough money to enroll in English classes when I was 11. He taught me that it is a good thing to enjoy the money you make, as long as you spend it doing wholesome things you are passionate about. Knowing English was my door out of poverty in my youth and out of homelessness as a new single mom in the U.S.
  10. My daddy is a dreamer, a visionary, and an innovator. We both love business, philosophy, and technology. He has always been into politics and has always made time for that passion, and that’s how I am with my passions. He doesn’t really understand much about blogging and he’s not on social media, but he supports me and is proud of my accomplishments… and he tells me. Words of Affirmation is my top Love Language, and he knows that (without reading the book).
  11. My daddy supports me in my faith. When I decided to be baptized LDS, he didn’t join me, but he didn’t try to stop me either. He is not religious, he is a man of great faith and it shows in everything he does. He has godly attributes that inspire me to be a better person. He’s forgiving, he loves to help others, and motivate them to be their best. He always has animals and plants he’s caring for and he is so sweet while doing it. Though we planted trees together, I didn’t inherit his green thumb (he passed it on to my girls).
  12. Mi papi (my daddy) makes me feel beautiful. I cry every time I hear Julio Iglesias songs, especially “De Niña A Mujer” (“from little girl to woman”) because he used to sing songs dedicated to me and showed me his heart through one of his top passions: music. He’s also an expert at giving compliments – and he gives them freely and publicly to everyone but in such a genuine way that you feel like you’re the only person in the world. He’d say things like “no es el vestido, es la percha” which literally means “it’s not the dress, it’s the hanger” because he is very careful to not praise the clothes or shoes you’re wearing, but to emphasize how you make your attire look good instead.
  13. Probably the most important lesson my dad taught me was to own my choices. He always admitted he wasn’t perfect, and apologized for his shortcomings. He is open to other’s advice – of course, he makes sure you know he has the last say in deciding whether he will listen or not. My dad finds a significant lesson is the most insignificant event, learns from it, and teaches you about it so you don’t make the same mistake. I admire this quality and I strive to emulate it as much as I can.

We can be quick to forget to appreciate our dads, and they are usually hard on themselves because men are result and task oriented (fathers are doers!). However, dads are amazing. Fathers are loyal, caring, and selfless, and they teach us lessons that go way beyond “looking both ways when crossing the streets.”

a dad's love transcends time and distance

A dad’s love transcends time and distance. I miss my dad (he lives in the Dominican Republic), yet all it takes is to hear his voice for me to feel home again, to feel his love for me, and to feel like a daddy’s girl who will always be beautiful and special to him.

Many dads are gone a lot, working hard to provide, and their obligations prevent them from attending events or having fun outings with their kids. I know first hand that it’s not what you do, but who you are that makes the biggest impact in your children.  It’s time to tell the dads in our lives that they are doing a good job, a remarkable job, because dads teach children how to live. Let them not go unsung, unappreciated, and unnoticed.

dads teach children how to live. Let them not go unsung, unappreciated, and unnoticed.

A new video from Minute Maid shows that dads are “Doin’ Good” even when the demands of life, work, and parenting feel overwhelming and gives them a sense that what they do – or who they are – are not enough.

My girls have mostly grown up without a father, and today, we are blessed to have a man in our lives who is involved in their lives, supports who they are, and loves their mother. I want to remind my husband that he is a great dad to them and to our Little Pigeon.

My eyes are swollen and my heart is full as I write Thank you, papi, for doing good as a father, even when you may not think you do. For teaching me to be vulnerable, confident, and courageous. Thank you for believing in me, comforting me and validating my feelings, and for helping me love myself, like you do. I’m so blessed to have you in my life. You’re my role model, my love, and my hero!”

Special Drawing: share your dad story and win a prize! #FathersDay

Do you know of a dad who’s doing a great job but may not realize it? Post a shout out or a short story about him in the comment section below to let him know how incredible of a dad he is.

Elayna Fernandez - Author - 
Speaker - Success Guide to Moms and Mompreneurs
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM

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PS – The drawing is now closed. A random reader won a generous Minute Maid prize pack, which included a $50 Visa gift, aimed to make memories with her kiddos (or give it to someone she thinks could use it to keep Doin Good with his family).

93 thoughts on “Things My Father Failed To Do

  1. I don’t have a dad but my husband is a fantastic father! He works really hard and spends all of his free time with us. He will sacrifice whatever it takes to ensure our happiness.

  2. My dad wasn’t around much either. He has worked two full time jobs for as long as I can remember. Still does.

  3. I lost my Dad to a heart attack, when I was 17, so there is a lot on that list for me, too. 🙁 Blessed to have a husband who is an amazing father to our son and be able to see that relationship grow!

  4. Great post! Thank you for sharing. My father wasn’t around much after my parents divorced when I was four, however, my husband is dad of the year. He is a career fire fighter, and if anyone knows how hard of a career goal that is to obtain then you know how hard he has worked over the past ten years to provide for his family. He is a wonderful, supportive and loving father to our two little blueeyedbabies and is a great role model when it comes to his faith in God. He prays with our children and it melts my heart. I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father has blessed my children with a wonderful relationship with their daddy that I did not get with mine.

  5. I was the same age when my parents separated. It was definitely tough, but I think it would have been much more difficult if they’d remained together.

  6. At some point you realize your parents are human and not perfect. They do the best they can in the moment. Hopefully as adults we can see this and forgive them for their shortcomings if we feel they had any.

  7. I can’t imagine being a child of divorce since my parents just celebrated their 58th anniversary! I do think most parents do the best they can, and it sounds like your dad taught you a lot of important things and, most of all, loved you.

  8. My Dad, growing up, was a great Dad. He was the type of Dad who would take you in the backyard and play catch for hours or sit down at your little tiny table with you for a tea party. But, once my parents divorced, he let that come between his relationship with his children. Thankfully, I had an Uncle who decided to step in. He took over all the responsibility, teaching me to drive my first car, going to father/daughter dances, teaching me to ride a horse, change my own tire, and most importantly, showing me unconditional love.

  9. This year i stepped aside and let my ex husband be a dad. I want my daughter to have that dad you described,i didnt have him.And now as a grown woman i too miss a dad.

  10. My dad helped me develop my love of the outdoors. As a kid he took me camping, backpacking, hiking, now I do those things with my kids. Plus it is one of the reasons I studied forest management in college. My love of the outdoors has really shaped my life.

  11. I think my dad did a great job raising my sisters & I despite him not being the best at showing his true feelings. We all turned out successful & we have him & mom to thank for that!

  12. I love this Elayna! I miss my dad so much and tell friends to cherish their time with their fathers regardless of the past. “It’s not the clothes, it’s the hanger” really stood out for me and I’m passing that on to my girls. Thank you for posting!

  13. That’s so beautiful that you have such a special bond with your daddy, even with the obstacle of dealing with divorce. I didn’t meet my dad until I was 11, then he passed when I was 17. Not too much time to really get to know him, so I love that you cherish the time spent with yours!

  14. My husband deserves a shout out for the way he is with my daughter. He is always making her laugh and joking around with her. He supports her through everything and encourages her to achieve her dreams.
    My own father was amazing as well. He always made time for me no matter how busy he was. With 4 brothers and sisters, being the oldest was difficult at times, but he always made sure I was never left out.

  15. Your childhood with your dad sounds like mine. My parents got divorced he remarried and totally disowned me and died that way. As a parent I cannot understand how someone could treat their children this way.

  16. What a beautiful, heartwarming post. My father passed away suddenly when my mom was pregnant with me and had 3 other children all under the age of 4 back in 1955. My mom remarried when I was 4 to a wonderful man who treated myself and my siblings as if we were his own. The fact that a man marries a woman with 4 young children kind of speaks to his character. He took care of us (and our children and their children) his whole life. There were many lessons learned and just great family times. He is almost 92 now and his health and mind are failing and now it is our turn to take care of him. He taught us well and so it just kind of comes natural to nurture and care for him and make sure he is comfortable and has what he needs. It is our pleasure and we are fortunate to still have him with us.

  17. My dad wasn’t’ around when I was growing up. He wasn’t a part of my life really until I was an adult. He has helped me a lot since then so I guess he is doing the best he can.

  18. You are very strong for writing this post, its good that you can see, although your dad didn’t do a lot of things with you, he still made you feel important to his life. Sometimes as kids we can’t see it, but as adults we learn to understand how our parents act. I’m still learning this and learning to understand and accept. I didn’t have a father and my mother was barely there, yet as an adult is trying to come back into my life and she’s got all the kind caring words she should have had for me as a child, but can’t get them out of my head. Its so hard for kids to understand their parennts, I just try to be the best parent I can be to my little two and hope that when they are adults, they remember the good times.

  19. Divorce can be so hard on kids. It is to bad your Dad lives so far away from you. I am glad you were able to stay so close.

    • I agree with Carol. My dad wasn’t with us every day, but he definitely did the best he could from afar (and by traveling to see us as often as possible.)

  20. I was blessed with 2 father’s, my real dad and my step dad. I learned a lot from both and always felt love from them. I miss my step dad, may he rest in peace. I’d share this with my dad.

  21. This is a beautiful tribute to your Dad. My Dad passed away 10 years ago. We grow up poor and no toys. The best advise he gave me is make your education priority. I am so happy when I graduated college and I owe it to him.

  22. my lovely dad is been always a great father and grandfather to my kids he is alway there when we need him I’m very grateful to him for his support .

  23. My dad didn’t do a lot of things either, but he was the best dad ever! He made sure all our needs were met and that was what drove him. he died when I was 15 and I have nothing but great memories of him. He was the best dad ever!

  24. I was raised by my grandparents and as far as I know I know my bio father is still a drug addicted loser. My true father that raised me is still my hero.

  25. This post made me teary. I think as parents we often neglect some things and think we are failing. It sounds like despite the “didn’t do’s” your dad was/is an amazing man!

  26. What a lovely post in recognition for your dad.
    My husband, Rick, is an amazing father, but he often doesn’t think he has done well. Both of our boys have grown into considerate, hardworking and generous men. he taught them respect, love and courage by living it in front of them each and every day. I love listening to things they say now because they sound so much like him in how they care about other people in their lives. he sacrificed so much for the whole family, but especially for our boys. if they needed him, no matter how tired, he was there for them. And now that we don’t have much financially, it breaks his heart that he can’t do more to help them even as adults. He wants them to succeed and be happy. He also taught them how to love a wife and that was something both my boys are getting right! They are protective of women and encourage them to be who they are and not change them. The best thing though is he taught them how to love God and serve Him. He did an amazing job even though he doesn’t think so!

  27. I was lucky to not have divorced parents, but my dad is still very shy, even with his kids. But I take the time to talk with him about something we both love, science fiction books. When i do that, he opens up and will talk forever.

  28. This is an important post. My dad never took me to a theme park, but he did so much more than that. He taught me so much.

  29. I think it is wonderful that you have been able to maintain such a special connection with your father despite the divorce. It’s true that dads teach us many lessons that we carry with us into adulthood.

  30. These are awesome things your dad taught you and I am so happy that you acknowledge them. There are always things we wished our parents did but there is always things we are grateful for what they did for us. Thanks for sharing.

  31. my dad wasn’t the greatest when i was younger to most of us kids (5) but he’s better now and i think learning from his mistakes and loves being a grandpa so he’s making up for it.

  32. What a very sincere and well written post. Divorce is such a hard topic for kids. I know when I went through with it I struggled and sometimes wondered how I did not realize it sooner. Thanks for sharing:)

  33. What a beautiful post!

    I have a really good relationship with my Dad. To say that I am ‘Daddy’s little girl’ is an understatement. I’ve always been my father’s ‘road dog’ and he has exposed me to so many different kinds of people and experiences along the way. He’s always fostered my thirst for learning – he is the one who taught me how to read when I was 2 ½. We share a love of books and still go hunting used book stores together. He taught me how to change a tire, battery, headlight, spark plugs, oil filter, and radiator. We share a love of tools. He gave me my first machete (long story). We build garden boxes and picnic tables together. I get my competitive streak from him, from playing Jeopardy after dinner to Gin Rummy in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. My Dad can cook, bake and grill well. We share a love of trying new foods and flavors…and spices and cilantro and wasabi. I just shared my bourbon-flavored marshmallows with him today! And, to this day, I still do not drive (yet), but he will pick me up and take me wherever I want to go in a heartbeat. He’s always there for me. Love him to pieces.

  34. My husband is a fantastic father to all 4 of our children. Unless we had told you our story no one ever knows that 2 of our children are adopted. He loves them all equally. He doesn’t miss a beat when I have to be gone for travel and he teaches them alongside me. I am so VERY grateful for him and would love to give him extra appreciation for all he does for us.

  35. This is a wonderful post,I think sometimes we only look at the things fathers do not do but what about what they did do to make a difference in our lives no matter how big or small.

  36. That’s great that you have so many great things to share about your dad. My dad passed when my mom was expecting me 45 years ago. I still miss not knowing him.

  37. It sounds like you have a great father. Being a parent is hard sometimes and things happen unexpectedly. It sounds like he was still able to show you a lot in life 🙂 I love the photos!

  38. Even though my nephew is a fantastic person – kind, honest, hard working – my brother doubts his ability as a parent. He is #DoinGood and shouldn’t worry!

  39. What a nice post! I haven’t seen my dad in forever…but I wish him the best. At least I had an amazing mom. And well I’m thankfuk I have a great father for my daughter. 🙂

  40. My dad always worked but I remember him always doing stuff with us on the weekends and after dinner. He was always coaching our sports teams or playing games with us. My husband is the same way with our kids.

  41. I have had a couple dads throughout my life but sadly haven’t learned much from them. I do have father figures in my life that have shown me what a father is supposed to do and teach and I applaud them everyday.

  42. AWW, this is really beautiful story, I miss my father now. I remember when we always fishing when the time was my childhood.

  43. I have a terrible time reading posts like these. While my father was very funny, read us stories, and was a rock for us at times, he was also a drunk who molested me until I was 15. So…I hate him while I have fond and loving memories, but since he’s also a liar who conspired with my mother, I haven’t spoken to either in over eight years.

  44. My dad is no longer living and when he was, he wasn’t much of a father and left it all to my mom but he was hilarious. He got me into appreciating the sport of boxing and… he had no shame and passed gas loudly… everywhere.

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  49. My dad taught me to work. He always brought me in to work with him on Saturdays. He had me sweep the key shavings off the floor in the lock shop where he worked. As I grew older he gave me more responsibility, always rewarding my actions with praise and special ‘sneak out; lunches. He would tell me we had more work to do but first we had to sneak out to get lunch. I was sure I was invisible as we tiptoed past his coworkers. He made working into something magical. When he later owned a dress shop with my step-mom, I worked there as well. He had me start in the back room, sweeping and pressing the clothes. Secretly I watched him from behind the curtain, sharing his day with our customers like they were family friends. He made a point to knew what each lady liked and made special orders when we went to FashionMart with certain customers in mind. My work ethic and can-do attitude come straight from my dad and all of the hours I spent working at his side.

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