Extraordinary


So, tell me, do you love yourself? Six years ago, this week, I sat on a therapist’s couch (yes, she really had a couch) and asked me that question. I couldn’t answer. Frozen by brutal, soul crushing truth that I hated who and what I was, at that time in my life. She talked to me some more, recommended books to read, and told me to write love letter to myself. It all seemed stupid. Not intellectually, but it seemed ridiculous because I was ill-equipped to even try.

Years have gone by and I’ve deconstructed that sad fool who sat on a really comfortable sofa asnwering nosey queries. Now, I try to extend the knowledge I’ve acquired through experience to my wife and three daughters. I tell them every day how beautiful, talented, and special they are and can be. I know the cynics (I used to be one so, go screw yourself, I know the secret handshake, jackass) reading this will say I’m setting my kids up for failure. This is a cruel, hard world that will slap them in the face if they walk around with so much sunshine blown into their behinds. Maybe. But at least they won’t have to fight the devils of each day doubting themselves and wondering if they’re loved.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the villains of the internet, let me introduce you to British journalist, Samantha Brick.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/13/samantha-brick-i-know-im-beautiful-because-my-daddy-told-me-so-pictures_n_1422847.html

http://thelook.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/16/11229862-secret-behind-too-beautiful-writers-confidence-dads-love?lite

Samantha’s basic tenet is her life is really friggin hard because she’s so beautiful, women hate her, men don’t take her seriously, and she’s unapologetic because her dad told her how awesome she was growing up.

The first column she wrote, about two weeks ago, I reacted the same way you just did. “What a delusional, arrogant, snotty little twit.”

This latest column, discussing how her father’s great love bestowed on her gave her this abundance of self-confidence, makes me kind of dig her point of view.

Sam Brick is about my age, early 40s, and I’m a bit envious of her chest thumping. I don’t take compliments well. I think I’m below average looking. I wonder, despite my wife being completely great to me, if I’m good enough to hang with her.

Miss Brick has a point. Maybe if parents, especially fathers, said and did the things women need to hear growing up and later as adults, we wouldn’t have as many eating disorders, suicides, and plastic surgeons wouldn’t ever do another boobie job again? Strip clubs would close down tomorrow and “daddy issues” would become a a great ironic all-girl punk rock band name instead of the reason young girls get on a pole.

Everytime I hear the great Liz Phair’s Extraordinary, I want to implant the tune in my three daughters ears, especially my teenager, and tell them to never stop listening. As many female readers and writing friends as I’ve gathered over the past two years, I say, from the bottom of my robot heart, you’re extraordinary, too. Really, turn this song up, and listen to what Liz, Samantha and I are saying. You’re extraordinary.

94 responses to “Extraordinary

  1. Here’s my take on Brick…
    At first, I thought it was “tongue-in-cheek”. Probably not, I realize now. But… so what if she thinks she’s all that? Good for her. And yes… my second thought was “arrogant dip”. But, again, good for her for being confident in herself.
    Also… I love Liz Phair! :-)

    • listen she’s a bit over the top and her approach is very well, arrogant. But if you read what she’s writing she expressing how HER confidence is derived from a good background of love and care. Hell, she’s British, those people are supposedly all stiff upper lip, blah blah blah. I dig her point of view. I’m using her dad’s techniques in my house.

  2. I believe that the way women are treated by our fathers has a HUGE impact on them later in life. You’re absolutely on the right track–not just in assuring your daughters that they are beautiful and wonderful, but also because they see the respect and esteem you have for your wife.

    I believe SO MUCH of the self confidence I have came from the way my dad treated my sister and me. Also? I married a great guy because I saw the way my dad treats my mom–with love and respect no matter what else was going on in their lives. And… my mom’s dad? The father of 4 daughters who always treated the women in his life with love and respect.

    • that explains your theater background. you love being onstage. aLSO explains your love of Helene. who also wants to be onstage.

      That’s great about your dad. even when i’m amd at my daughter i tell them i love them and they’re amazing.

  3. My husband always tells our girls they are beautiful and special. Of course they are only 5 and 3 so we still have years to “ruin” them :) I was a confident kid and somewhere along the line I lost my self. I hated how I looked, I felt ugly. I’m pretty sure it was the glasses.

    Today, I’m okay looking. I have my body issues but then, what woman doesn’t. My children have ruined my boobs (sorry lance.TMI I know). BUT my husband thinks I am gorgeous and sexy so I guess I can’t complain. He is the guy who has to look at me everyday ;)

    I’m pretty sure if I saw a picture of that woman I would hate her though…so I just won’t look

    • good man

      That’s encouraging you think you look good today. My wife will announce herself ina room when she’s feeling hot, or whatever. I think it’s awesome.

  4. I was raised that way, as well. By my mom mostly. Her words and intentions were the most pure and real, at least. I was told I was brilliant. Beautiful. Talented. Unrivaled. And I, too, have a respectable amount of unshakeable self-confidence that is an inherent part of me. A bit of self-doubt is healthy, though. And a keg of humility is priceless. Reality never really slapped me in the face. I’m not blind. I know when I see a woman who I believe is physically more attractive than I am. And I don’t have a problem admitting it. Actually, my son caught me at the chinese restaurant the other day, “OH MY GOD, MOMMA! You were TOTALLY checking her out!” Hey, what can I say. She had great legs. I also know when someone has the upperhand in the brainpower arena. And I will bow to their superiority with grace. Most of the time. After a couple of good deep breaths. Maybe. Frankly, I think men get the shit end of the stick. I think their capabilities and strength and point-of-view gets shoved under the rug so women can shine. The truth is, at least for me, I don’t want to shine alone. And truth be told, he makes me much, much shinier when he is standing next to me.

    • i never worry about my 3 girls having too muhc over-confidence. I don’t want them to doubt themselves I way I did, and thus become so screwed up.

      I’ve told you before, and other than my wife, you carry a similar inner strength I admire. Your husband and sons are betetr for seeing a strong female in tehir lives.

  5. Great post, as I love how you always put your heart out there. All the Brick crap aside, I have to both agree and disagree with you on the daddy issues. I think that parental support is 99 percent of a healthy development, but sometimes you get a bum hand. My dad is an ass to the max (their divorce made it into textbooks) and I haven’t had a relationship with him for almost 15 years. I didn’t have that from him growing up, but my mom more than made up for it.

    My point is that parents are so, so vital, but that sometimes “daddy issues” can be an excuse or a jumping point to prove daddy wrong. ;) You won’t have to worry about that though. Ya done good.

    • you’ll disagree with this but we have the blogger friendship taht we can be this way. But you’re the exception to the rule. you used your “daddy issues” to drive you to be independent and a writer and a good person. most of the time, that’s not what happens.

      im glad you have your mom to make up for the lack of dad stuff. I NEVER want my girls to feel that way about me. so if they write “people hate me because I’m beautiful and my daddy loved me so much” you’ll have to suck it up and comment their blogs nicely. hahahaha

  6. I’m vaguely aware of who this Samantha Brick is, so I can’t really form any sort of opinion about her. Regardless, as a parent, I’ve tried to instill a sense of confidence in my kids, hopefully without making them think the world owes them everything because they’re so freakin’ awesome. I think having parents who are involved in their lives in a positive way, is the best gift we can give our children.

    • right now, they think i’m the biggest dork in two shoes. but, yeah, I hope one day someone is yelling at them on the internet because they have a load of self-confidence and they credit mommy and daddy.

  7. Your post shows what lies beneath the flesh of a man and into the heart of a soul. I believe in honesty in relationships, whether it is between a person and their spouse, or kids, or to themselves.

    My son is an amazing human, and I tell him so all the time. It hasn’t made him arrogant, but definitely added to his own strength (which by the way I have no claim to now ;-) He is his own person, and more rational than anyone I know, definitely not as emotionally inclined as his mother.

    I could tell you stories for hours based on upbringing, but I’ll save that for some other day, in the third person through bits and chunks of fiction… if you get to know me well enough, you’ll know which pieces are and are not mine.

    Suffice it to say that your words made me cry Lance. We all walk through our own fires, and when we reach the other side we are stronger, more resilient, and aware that we can do it again. The ladies in your life are lucky to have such a handsome, caring, self-aware man in their lives. The more you can see that, the more you have to give them. Your love for all of them is evident in every post you make.

    (Takes a slow deep breath… smiles… and meanders out before she starts talking again…)

    • see, k, now I’m acting all weird. I just don’t take compliments well. Trust me, keep em coming if you mean them but now I’m squirming and wondering what bad thing is going to happen to me. see my dilemma?

      The way you praise yours on is perfect. He’s not arrogant, he’s loved. period. maybe, samantha brick, Liz Phair, and I are right on.

      thank you for your comment

  8. I love that you do this for your daughters. I grew up in a family (particularly on my dad’s side) that did not offer compliments, or (healthy) love, or encouragement, and it definitely still touches my life to this day.

    • we grew up in similar families. Im learning the “old school” style may have won world wars and built a country but it also contributed to a skyrocketing divorce rates and really screwed up kids.

  9. I think it comes down to balance in some cases. I never got praise from my parents. It could be cultural, but they felt praise would make me egocentric, so their tactic was “never praise, but never put down.” If I got 95% in school, they’d say “why didn’t you get 100%? It may sound cruel but it taught me to always try harder. Of course, life got harder, so it wasn’t possible to give 110% to everything. What I lacked in praise from my parents, I found from my friends, teachers, and others I respected.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with how you want to raise your daughters – it’s how you feel will work for you best. So long as it comes from a place of love – I don’t think you can lose.

    eden

    • I agree. But if I had to choose between how you and I were raises and praising/loving the heck out of my girls, I’d go the latter. I catch myself making negative facial expressions or saying smarmy remarks when my teenager brings home the rare low B or high C. I know that she works hard, is tough on herself and responds better to praise than tough love. It’s weird Eden, I didn’t mind the hard driving style from my teachers, football coaches, friends, but when it came to my parents and girlfriends, I wanted unconditional love and praise. So i give that to my wife and 3 daughters.

      great comment, my friend

  10. Lance,

    First, this is an amazing post. I get what you are saying. I was raised in a very strict home. My mother was very tender and complimentary, but not over the top. My dad was very stern. Like Eden said above me, if I brought home a 95, I was asked why I didn’t get 100. I worked my butt off, but always wondered if I was pretty enough, smart enough, good enough for any situation. I would never ask someone to give me those compliments and in moments of doubt, like when I had my first job interview, I didn’t have someone slapping me on the back on the way out the door saying, “You got this!” or even to help me prepare. This was partly because I was little miss independent who could do it all on my own. I learned not to need anyone.

    Now, though, I look at my husband and his way with our children and I see their self-confidence shining. We are both very similar to you and your wife. Very complimentary and I see a difference. When they walk out the door to their first job interview, my husband and I will be the one slapping them on the back telling them “You can do this!”. We will have been the ones to share questions that they may be asked. Our kids will know they have someone to turn to when they feel like crap. We have fostered that…and that is AWESOME! Go you!

    • Like you and Eden, I was raised in strict home. But also, “giving each other the business” or constant “jabs” were common. I never realized their harmful effects until I had children. Trust me, my wife and kids keep me grounded by making fun of my robot like attitudes, my anxiousness, my blogging/twitter stuff but they mix in together with hugs, kisses, and compliments. My parents and sibling did not. I’m so glad you and your husband are the way you are. Our kids have to have that armor of self-assurance when they do go out into that cold, cruel, dark world. I’m envious of our loved children.

  11. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been told that I’m extraordinary by anyone. Except people online who’ve never met me. Ironic, isn’t it?

    I do know my dad loves me. He’s just not….. expressive.

    (I still don’t like Samantha Brick)

    • I’m not saying I like her, I’m saying I get her point.

      You are extraordinary, the way you handle your home and drop the funny on the twitter

  12. I think this is an EXCELLENT post! I know you can’t raise a kid with sunshine and daisies all the time, but I grew up with hyper-critical grandparents, and let me tell you, it messes up your view of yourself. I think the best we can do is say sure, we’re not perfect, but we’re great just the way we are!

    I try this with my son, and I hope it holds on into adulthood. As parents, it’s not our job to “expose” kids to the hard world–that will happen soon enough without our help. Our job is to guide them on the right path and give them the tools they need to survive the hardness! Your girls are very lucky to have you.

    • Yes, to all of this comment. Self-awareness is next to Godliness, not cleanliness. I don’t think our parents and their generation realize how bad they messed up some of us by being too hard and too strict and not complimentary.

      Whenever I whine about our kids being spolied or possibly not pushed enough, my wife reminds me that they’re loved and confident and happy. ding ding ding

  13. Lance, this was amazing…thank YOU! Let’s get that Daddy-love to our sons too, so they don’t have to overcome the hypocrisy and fight the battles of dogma to write like this. Our future, as cheeseball and over used as it sounds, are our children. Let’s build them up, let them cry, know their hearts and be the biggest, brightest humans they can be. Double fist-pump on this one…and yes…a new favorite :)

    • yeah, I have girls so I can;t speak to parents of boys except to relate my own negative experiences and how they screwed me up.

      thanks tasha…get ready for aa good 100 word song

  14. thanks but everyone knows that. I wanted to let all of you know that positivity and self confidence needs to be nurtured not manfactured…plus…there’s Liz

  15. Well fricking done, sir. If you can teach your daughters that kind of self-acceptance and self-love now, you’re soooo far ahead of the game when they become (gah) teenagers (gah).

    PS: YAY LIZ PHAIR! :)

  16. This my dear boxing gloved friend may be why I’m a mess. My dad was poetically perfect. In his eyes I could become anything I wanted to. He encouraged me and believed I had true perfection. But my mom? Oh mommie dearest wished well, on her best days, but she hated my dad and I was his splitting image. Muwah!

    • It’s weird Nikki I can talk about mixed up crap wiith humor but hearing yours and others makes me sad and want to give out hugs.

      At least your dad was doing the right thing. Remember his words.

      and thanks

  17. I lavish my eight-year-old son with compliments, love, hugs, praise. But that kid resists it. He is sooooo hard on himself. He’s never good enough. Always trying to be perfect. I thought my issues were because my parents withheld praise. Now I’m wondering if some of it is nature. I tried to give him the total opposite parenting style from what I got, and the kid is still just like me.

    • don;t worry mandy. that’s just his personality. My teenager is like. she’s her worst critic BUT when she doesnt know we’re wathcing she conducts herself confidently and proudly. It’ll stick, keep it up.

  18. Love Liz Phair. You always get good stuff stuck in my head.

    I didn’t feel loved as a child. I vowed my child would always know I loved him – I tell him when he does something that needs improvement, when I’m disappointed in his choices. But I also tell him he is smart and funny and beautiful and I love him. When he disappoints me, it’s not because he is “bad” but because he needs to learn to make better choices.

    Children need to know that they are good overall, even when they slip up. Humans make mistakes, it doesn’t make them unlovable. (generally speaking, but that’s another matter)

    My child may know when I’m upset with him, but I will do everything in my power for him to know without any doubt he is loved and he is a person of worth. That, I think, will set him up for healthy relationships and good self-esteem as he grows. Not arrogance, not hating himself. Hopefully somewhere in the middle – feeling good, knowing there’s always room to grow.

    Great post – made me think.

    • Liz is great to get stuck in your head.

      My wife and I are very liberal parents If there’s a hard ass in the house, its me. Most of that is tied to the fact that my upbringing was more strict. I’m learning that sugar will get the rooms cleaned up quicker than sour. Thats’ point of this post. If you want better, more confident children, you need to work on yourself a parent.

  19. I saw the “keeping your daughters off the pole” bit on Facebook and came rushing over. It’s pretty typical for survivors of child sexual abuse to end up in the sex industry, if you call stripping an “industry”….and much to my HAPPY to surprise, I find a story about a good dad. I haven’t read the articles you cite, but will…and regardless…having a supportive, present, loving, guiding force of a dad in the life of a daughter is way, way, way up there in forming the self-esteem of females. Thank you for being one of those dads!

    • thanks. I think it’s important to MAKE the kids, especially girls know tyou’re threre, they’re loved, and they can come to you when life gets hard.

      • Came back to read again. This time it made me cry. Probably a bit of grief for myself, but also a lot of relief knowing there are good dads out there. I’ve also read the comments (great conversation going) and have to say that I don’t think you can over-praise….as long as it is sincere. I also think it’s important to point out the goodness in others….which helps with developing humility and steers from arrogance. Thanks for a great post.

  20. This was my post-divorce theme song! I grew up with a crap dad who was never around then died when I was 14. Maybe if I’d had a better one, then I wouldn’t be sitting on a therapist’s couch so often. (Yes, it’s a couch).

  21. I don’t think it is ever wrong for a dad to lavish love on his daughters and tell them that they’re great. I don’t think doing that is setting them up for failure. If you never allowed them to learn lessons along the way (like you or your sports team can’t always win, etc) then that would be setting them up for failure. Letting them think that they as individuals are awesome and loved is not.

  22. The world needs more Liz Phair. The world also needs more fathers who love their daughters so fully and fiercely and loudly and openly!

    (My beef with Miss Brick isn’t that she’s confident, or that her Daddy loved her. My beef with her is that she claims that “all women hate her”, and I think there’s something mysogynistic about holding that belief.)

    • again, Im not hanging out with Brick, I’m just saying she has a great point with her second column, the one talking about her dad’s love.

      yes, Liz makes the world wonderful

  23. Lance, first off, you sound like a wonderful father. I’m another Daddy Issues Navel Gazing Survivor, and to have a dad like you instead would have been wonderful. We three girls would have been better off, for sure. Go ahead, lead with your heart, and keep on telling them how extraordinary they are. It worked for my daughter, Riley, who has self-esteem despite being burdened with Asperger’s Syndrome. Every time Lex (her stepdad since 9) gets on the phone with her, he says, “Hello, beautiful girl. What’s up?”

    Amy http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/04/17/lartiste/

    • i dropped off my teenager and the neighbor girl that lives across the street at their school this morning. Let’s just say neighbor doesnt have a sappy dude like me at home. I make sure her and my daughter get an embarrassinging “have a great day beautiful girls” as they get out o fthe car.

  24. I’m just going to say that all through my teens and early 20s, I watched many of my friends pick wrong guy after wrong guy because they didn’t know they deserved better. My dad treated me like a princess and told me that I deserved only a world of beauty. So that’s what I created for myself.
    The world needs more dads like you.

  25. love this anthem. i dad a daddy who breathed my worth to me. who taught my brother to respect, and value womanhood. Now, as a mother I try to quietly instill this same knowing of being and beauty into both my children boy and girl and pray that they will hear me.

  26. I can’t stand that Brick woman, but I can certainly see your point here. Self-esteem is definitely not a bad thing, and I think it’s incredibly important for us to remind our children how great they are as much as possible. I will say as someone who lacks any and had great, loving parents who reminded me how much they loved me and how great I was nearly everyday, I can’t say that it always works. I think my brain was hard-wired to have sucky self-esteem…*sigh*

    But alas, I see your point and think every girl deserves a great dad like you.

    • i just don’t see how showering you kids with love, compliments, and confidence can be bad. the world will slap them around enough without you helping them feel worse.

      my brain is wired that way too, Katie but it would have been nice to have some help to not be as screwed up as i became.

  27. This is pretty great. I think telling your daughters that you think the world of them and that they are beautiful is pretty much the BEST thing a dad can do. Over and over and over. And mean it. And have them KNOW that you mean it. I only saw my dad once or maybe twice a year. These limited times with him combined with phone calls maybe once a week or once a month were life-savers…life-lines. He’s the only one I got that message from and that it wasn’t all that frequent made it hard to believe sometimes. But I trusted him as best I could…even though I was getting a different message elsewhere. DO IT. Keep doing it. You are a good dad :)

  28. I love your empowering posts. I’m going to go hug my husband now for being the great dad that he is. My mantra that I hope will turn into truth if I say it enough times is – “My daughters will never go out with losers because their father has set the bar too high.” May it work for you because it sounds like you are making it happen in your household, too. Ellen

  29. Thanks for the LP reminder. Together with Pink, Katy Perry, and (I just remembered!) Adam Ant, there are lots of songs out there to bolster confidence. But I think the first person songs, like Liz Phair’s, are the most powerful. Awesome.

  30. I’m really supportive of my son. I want him to know he’s great and loved and that I’m proud of him. I want him to also learn that things aren’t always rosey out in the world but that if he is smart about who he hangs with and feels loved the bad times won’t break him. That said, I don’t want him to grow up to be an arrogant dbag either. Maybe it’s easier to take from a woman but over-whelming conceit and delusional arrogance doesn’t really attract great, loving friends and family…

    • there’s a balance scribme. clearly this samantha brick is way over to the other side but still, being positive and supporting to our kids can only help them

  31. I wholeheartedly agree with you. And, love, love this line right here. ““daddy issues” would become a a great ironic all-girl punk rock band name instead of the reason young girls get on a pole.”

  32. I applaud you for the dad that you obviously are. My father’s DNA gave me a good brain, but his emotional distance did not give me the confidence to believe in it. I found that myself well into adulthood. I love reading about how you feel about your daughters and what you hope for them. Makes my day. My take on the Samantha chick is that she knew exactly what she was doing, and the reaction she would get. We all want our sound bite and our 15 minutes in the spotlight.

    • I agree about sam brick. But her points are at least discussion worthy, which is what we’re doing here.

      My parents were similar to yours. My wife is the real parental wonder of the two of us. she’s teaching me to be patient and consistent. Thanks for stopping by stephanie

  33. Well, I think there would still be strip clubs cuz men will always want to see naked chics. However, dads telling their daughters how awesome there is priceless. Glad you know it!

  34. I wonder if Brick really thought about what she was doing. The skeptic in me says she had to hope it would blow up like this.

    Anyhoo, I am all for helping our children understand how important they are- self worth is invaluable.

  35. I love what you’re giving your daughters. I have 3 girls and worry daily about screwing things up for them. I’m screwed up. Do they know I’m faking it? Do I tell them/show them what they need? Does my husband?

    Thanks for writing this. Thank you. xo

  36. this is an amazing post – showing the depths a fathers’ heart can AND should go.
    my own was a right foul git – good riddance. and luckily, thanks to an amazing mother and just the best extended family full of real men – well, I didn’t end up on a pole. My DH worries about our daughters watching all the Princess and Barbie movies, and the messages that they will receive from them about life and love: and their future “prince.” But I always tell him, they will be affected far more by how HE treats them – as their father, then some Disney movie. And by extension, how he treats me, his wife. No greater lesson there. Thankfully, he’s not a git but gets it.

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