Fathers and Daughters: 5 Important Things My Dad Taught Me


Me and my Dad on my wedding day in 2009.

Ten years ago, my father got a phone call from his sobbing daughter, who was on the verge of what she believed was a nervous breakdown from final exams as a first-year law student.

What did he do?

He hopped in the car and drove four hours- round trip- and surprised her by taking her to dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, Sonny’s BBQ.

Fast forward one decade. My dad invited me to be his “Plus One” on a trip to Italy, which he won as part of an incentive program through his company. Assuming that I would be in the throes of cleaning my kids’ spit-up and tending to a full time, “stress-free” career, he was shocked when I accepted his invitation.

When I was growing up, my “Tour of Italy” would have amounted to unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks at The Olive Garden. You can imagine that I jumped at the chance.

We had the best time, and I’ll be forever grateful for the memories.


Me and my Dad in Pisa, Italy.

My sister and I have a great dad. He never let us slack off at school, never allowed us to keep questionable company, and always encouraged us to “make good decisions,” which was his motto.

He always tried to instill important values in us, but was also forgiving when we slipped.

Here are the five things that make my dad so special:

My Dad Gave Up His Own Comfort for Mine. My Dad always put me and my sister before himself. As a recent example, he gave up his window seat and took my center seat on the 9-hour plane ride from Europe to the United States when we were returning from Italy. I’m terrified of flying [thanks to my parents letting me watch La Bamba when I was a little girl], and needed the window seat to keep from hyperventilating.

He didn’t once complain about the center seat, and karma probably allowed him to easily fall asleep to boot! 

My Dad Humored Me When He Probably Wanted to Shake Me. Growing up and through college, my Dad listened with a nonjudgmental heart when his drama queen daughter would call him crying about failed relationships. He probably wanted to shake me and tell me the best was yet to come and the guy at issue wasn’t worth the headache. Instead, he listened, never said “I told ‘ya so,” and never made me feel badly about allowing my heart to hurt.

My Dad Was My Biggest Fan. My Dad has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders. My earliest memory of this was when I was chosen to represent my public elementary school at a county-wide speech contest in fourth grade. I spoke about water conservation and another girl spoke about her brother’s physical handicap. She won. To this day, my Dad still tells the story about how I should have won and of the large number of people who approached him afterward to express disgust about my “highway robbery.”

While it was never good to be a sore loser, my Dad thought it was also important to recognize when fair was fair.

Even though life wasn’t always fair.

My Dad Taught Me that it’s Ok for Men to Cry. My Dad is nicknamed the “weeping willow” of the family. This became apparent during my senior year of high school when my grandmother died of cancer. My Dad showed me that the stereotype of men being weak if they cried wasn’t true. He showed me that in order to be strong, real, and authentic, you couldn’t be afraid to reveal your vulnerabilities, even if it meant publicly crying.

This was as true for women as it was for men.

My Dad Taught Me the Importance of Choosing My Friends Wisely. When I was growing up, my parents never allowed me to go to anybody’s house unless they first met the friend and their parents. Their philosophy was that I’d be less likely to get into trouble if my friend was being raised by people with values similar to the values my parents were teaching me.

“You are who your friends are” is a motto that is true, and is even more apparent now that I have girls of my own.

What I value the most about this motto is that some of my deepest, core group of girlfriends date all the way back to my childhood.

I’m working on passing along these five things to my own two girls.

Cheers to the man who loved me first and knows me best.


    26 Comments on Fathers and Daughters: 5 Important Things My Dad Taught Me

    1. Lezley
      March 4, 2016 at 6:08 pm (6 years ago)

      I love this post. I have a very close relationship with my dad and he taught me very similar things. It’s such an important relationship.

    2. Jess Beer
      March 3, 2016 at 11:02 am (6 years ago)

      So sweet – your dad sounds like an amazing guy! The relationship between a father and daughter is so special, and it’s great that you and your dad are so close!

    3. Lilies + Lambs
      March 3, 2016 at 12:30 am (6 years ago)

      Love this! He sounds wonderful- you’re so lucky to have had that; it warms my heart to know I chose a man who will be that for my little one too xx

    4. Rachel
      March 2, 2016 at 9:55 pm (6 years ago)

      So awesome that you were able to escape on a European adventure with your dad! Lessons learned from parents are priceless!

    5. Ashley
      March 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm (6 years ago)

      Truly amazing post! I can only imagine how much fun you had on your trip and you are very lucky to have those memories with your father. I have a very similar relationship to my father and it is one that I will always cherish, as I’m sure you do.

    6. Emily
      June 29, 2015 at 12:49 pm (7 years ago)

      Very dear! It sounds like you have a wonderful father and cherished relationship.

      Thanks for linking up at Tuesday Talk!

    7. Nicole
      June 27, 2015 at 8:45 am (7 years ago)

      Your dad sounds like a wonderful man! Thank you for sharing this great list with us at the #HomeMattersParty this week!

    8. Julie
      June 27, 2015 at 6:30 am (7 years ago)

      Your dad sounds like an incredible and inspiring man. How lucky you are to have these memories with him! And the pictures from Italy are beautiful, I want to see more!

    9. Kristine
      June 26, 2015 at 9:09 pm (7 years ago)

      What a beautiful post! 🙂

    10. Matt Tarkenton
      June 25, 2015 at 12:37 pm (7 years ago)


      I loved reading this blog – your Dad is a great guy and I enjoyed this more personal glimpse into your relationship growing up.

      Anna and I had such fun in Italy with you, your Dad and the whole Massebeau team. What a special trip for all of us! Anna thinks you are “super cool” – I’ll show her your blog.

      Take care,


      • jenniferdaku
        June 26, 2015 at 8:49 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and for the kind words, Matt! We had a great time in Europe with you and Anna and I’ll always specifically remember our adventures in Pisa. I already told my Dad that I’m coming with him to France in two years, so hopefully we can all make more fun memories together then. And I think your Dad is a pretty terrific guy as well!

    11. Shelly
      June 25, 2015 at 11:00 am (7 years ago)

      What a sweet tribute to your dad!

    12. Gilly @ Colour Saturated Life
      June 25, 2015 at 8:42 am (7 years ago)

      Wow, what an incredible man, I am sure he is as proud of you are you obviously are of him. This was so beautiful.

      • jenniferdaku
        June 26, 2015 at 8:55 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks so much, Gilly! That means a lot!

    13. Nikki Frank Hamilton
      June 21, 2015 at 10:25 pm (7 years ago)

      Jennifer, loved this post! <3 and i saw that it was on the Today Show blog! Kudos and congrats!

    14. Susan Mead
      June 21, 2015 at 7:22 pm (7 years ago)


      What a magnificent tribute to your dad and what he taught you. Magnificent Monday neighbor-so glad I found your blog.

      May I invite you to join the Friday DanceWithJesus Linkup? SusanBMead.com/blog-2 is the permalink.

      Your words would bless others there too

      Warmly, Susan

      • jenniferdaku
        June 21, 2015 at 4:21 pm (7 years ago)

        Thanks so much Ann! I appreciate the nomination and will work on it in the next few weeks. Hope you are having a great weekend. Cheers!

    15. Judy Rees
      June 19, 2015 at 12:43 pm (7 years ago)

      This is one of the finest tributes I have ever read. SO well said and heartfelt. You do your Dad proud. When the “Willow” reads this, he will indeed be weeping. He is truly blessed to have a daughter that sees such value in her Dad. As a parent that is all in life that truly matters.

    16. Ali A
      June 19, 2015 at 10:53 am (7 years ago)

      your dad sounds like an amazing guy 🙂

    17. Michelle
      June 18, 2015 at 10:35 pm (7 years ago)

      My husband is like your dad to our girls. Precious words to your dad from you. A father in a girl’s life is everything to what helps shape her into a woman.

      • jenniferdaku
        June 19, 2015 at 10:48 am (7 years ago)

        Totally agree, Michelle! Thanks so much for the feedback.

    18. Ann Grubbs n Critters
      June 18, 2015 at 10:31 pm (7 years ago)

      It’s a lovely piece, Jen. I almost had tears running down my eyes. Your Dad has such a big heart. 🙂

      • jenniferdaku
        June 19, 2015 at 10:49 am (7 years ago)

        Oh my goodness, thanks so much, Ann! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    19. Debbie Cantwell
      June 18, 2015 at 10:14 pm (7 years ago)

      Jen, this is such a beautiful article! What a great Father’s Day gift to him! He sounds like a gem! You and your sister are very lucky indeed.

      • jenniferdaku
        June 19, 2015 at 10:49 am (7 years ago)

        Aw, thanks so much Debbie, that means a lot! I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Also, I think I saw you post on FB that you’re back working with Brian… give him and Steve a hug from me.