“#grateful for a brilliant Dad who is also a feminist and raised his three daughters to also be feminists. We were always told we could do anything we wanted and were raised to hear every sort of sexist put down so when we heard it from someone who meant it we would know how to “treat it with the disdain it deserves”. My Dad holds my Mum in the highest esteem and they raised us to be independent, thinking and fierce women and for that I am truly grateful”.
My Dad is a bit of a legend. Everyone knows Big Tel. My Dad is from a little known place called Whitechapel in the East End of London. Whitechapel is famous for Jack the Ripper, The Krays and a wonderfully close knit community of Cockneys who are a “salt of the earth” kind of people. His upbringing was “old school” and tough. His family were not wealthy, by any stretch of the imagination, but they made do. He was the first to go to university and to have a profession. He is widely travelled and he believes in the good in people.
Tel is a big character, an extrovert, he’s tall and has a voice that carries when he wants it to. He can seem scary, especially to boyfriends, and he was incredibly strict with us when we were younger. He is also incredibly generous with his time and he has a heart as big as his personality.
My Dad is a champion of people who are a little bit lost, a little bit down, who lack self-belief. He is a giver of confidence and I love him for it. My Dad doesn’t believe in a “God” in the traditional sense of the word and wouldn’t describe himself as a Christian, but he does a better impression of being a Christian than a lot of self-proclaimed Christians I have come across.
My Dad is a talker; you can’t keep secrets from him about how you feel. A lot of girls can’t talk to their Dad once they get to a certain age. My Dad may have struggled to relate to us at points but he never let that show. He has always been present in our lives, he has always taken an interest in us, in our friends and in what we were up to.
My Dad taught us about social justice, that it’s not “how people say it, it’s what they say and do that counts”. He taught us to be compassionate and caring, to have empathy and kindness for those who are vulnerable and to understand how a disadvantaged background can impact upon a child and then an adult. He often says that things that seem small insignificant things to you are big kindnesses to others, and you often don’t know the impact that you have. I always try to bear this in mind and I think it’s better to give people the benefit of the doubt and I try to always be gentle with others, everyone after all is generally doing the best they can.
Despite this, my Dad was keen that we should not to suffer fools and not to be taken for granted. My Dad taught me to stand on my own two feet and to demand better from those I form relationships with including friends, lovers and employers.
Father’s Day is hard for a lot of people. A lot of people have complicated relationships with their Dad, or they don’t have one at all; sometimes through choice. I appreciate that some people find today particularly hard, a painful reminder of what they are missing.
I also appreciate that I am very lucky. My Dad loves us girls fiercely and is our greatest champion. He raised three girls so it’s a jolly good job that he is a feminist: he believes that women are equal to men and deserve to be treated as such; he raised us to believe that too. The older I’ve gotten the rarer I’ve realised that is. A lot of women are not so lucky to have such a champion in their Dad.
I have also come to realise just how important the role of a father is. That’s not to say that if someone doesn’t have one they will be messed up or incredibly disadvantaged, I know a few single Mums who manage both roles admirably. However, if you’ve got a good one, you’ll know about it forever.
If I ever need my Dad he will be there; if I ever need someone to stand my corner for me he’ll be there; if I ever need to discuss that state of the world and put it to rights, he’s my go to. My Dad is a constant. A constant support, a constant source of love, a constant source of open honest opinion and encouragement, as is my Mum I might add, but she already had her own post here.
I love him dearly. He gets me in a way few other people do outside of my own immediate family. He makes me laugh heartily and I have my Dad to thank for my sense of self-worth, my confidence and my love of Rod Stewart. None of those are small things.
Happy Father’s Day Big Tel! Love you.