There are two things I remember most about interacting with my father during childhood:
1) He never called me “stupid” nor did he ever react or respond to my words or actions as if I were stupid. My father always talked to me and about me as if I were an intelligent person. Whenever I failed to behave intelligently, my father wouldn’t lose his cool and flip out over my apparent stupidity. Instead he would simply remind me of how intelligent he thought I was and he’d challenge me to conduct myself in a way that reflected that intelligence.
2) He never suppressed the natural expression of his own intelligence out of a fear that I wouldn’t understand him. Rather than explain things to me as if I were a child, he would explain things to me as if I were a man and he would help me elevate my understanding in the process. If I had questions, he’d certainly answer them. If I ever looked confused, he’d certainly make an effort to clarify his words. But at a fundamental level, he treated my mind as if it were capable of handling complexity. He treated me as if I were capable of constructively processing the experience of being challenged. Rather than speak down to me because I were a child, he spoke up to me as if I were the kind of person who could reach for and attain higher levels of understanding.
Thanks Dad, for always speaking to me in a way that respected by dignity and intelligence. You’ve not only taught me how to respect myself, but you’ve given me the blueprint for how to meaningfully and effectively interact with others.
Happy Fathers Day,