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8 Invaluable Life Lessons I Learnt From My Girlfriend’s Dad

I was only twelve when my parents split, and my mother never discussed the details of their separation with us. We never really saw our father as much as we wished to after the separation, and that left us with feelings of resentment which only doubled with time.

He had simply walked out on us.

Left us all alone, left my mother shattered and weak, left us without looking back even once. So, the only natural feeling both my brother and I had towards him was pure hatred and disgust, we couldn’t imagine feeling anything else for him in our hearts.

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About ten years after he left us, one Christmas, he sent us a postcard which my mother tore into several tiny pieces and flung into the fire. That was the last time we heard from him.


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With time, he disappeared from our lives like oxygen would from a vacuum chamber. All there was left was vacuum. It had been sucking the life out of us.

After graduating from college, the recession had made it impossible for me to find a decent job in the city, and I was forced to come back to my hometown. I started working as an intern in an accounting firm for meager pay, but it was better than being unemployed. The firm had hired several interns like myself to get their dirty jobs done at a nominal pay. Among the many interns was a girl named Emily. I learnt later on that she too had been unable to find a job after graduation, and was forced to come back here.

We had something in common. Our situation. It brought us together, for we spent most of our coffee breaks complaining about the state of the economy, and how firms like the ones we worked in were exploiting us! Initially, we never really spoke about anything apart from work, but as time passed, she had become a close colleague of mine. Her never-say-no attitude had appealed to me; she was ambitious and smart to boot. We got along pretty well, and as clichéd as it may sound, I had developed feelings for her.


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She may have known this because she said yes to me when I managed to ask her out after four months of screwing up my courage. She later confessed to me that she had been waiting for me to ask her all along.

Emily wasn’t my type; she wasn’t timid or afraid to speak her mind. She was headstrong and often had an opinion she would stick to. Unlike most girls I had dated, she took charge of any situation and was decisive. She knew exactly what she wanted at any given point in time. So, somewhere along the way, I had begun to admire her because I had never been with someone who challenged me on an intellectual level.

After a year, both of us got converted into full-time employees at the same company. She was focused on her job, and I was focused on her. Most of my friends told me that I was simply smitten with her and I came to realize that they were right.

One day, she took me to meet her family; she lived with her parents and a brother. I had been nervous about meeting her dad because I had gathered that he would be like any protective dad who hated his daughter’s boyfriend.

couple with in laws_New_Love_Times

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After clearing my throat a hundred times, I managed to say my name and shook hands with Mr Reed. The man standing before me was tall, athletic, probably in his early fifties. His deep voice seemed to have a command. That afternoon, I had barely been able to speak throughout the enormous spread of lunch that Mrs Reed had prepared.

There was something about that man, or perhaps it was nothing and that every father is the same. I wouldn’t have known. His voice commanded respect with every word he spoke; however, he modulated it each time he spoke to his wife, daughter, son, or me! Although I felt scrutinized every time I met him after that first lunch, I had learnt a lot about my girlfriend’s dad in all those months after.

As I got to know him better, my respect for the man doubled. I learnt a little about his life, and then onwards, he simply became a man I wanted to be.

1. Family comes first

family dinner_New_Love_Times

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No matter what job you have, or who you are, your primary responsibility is towards your family. Over the years, I saw my girlfriend’s dad stick to this principle like glue on fingertips. He was always there for his family, come sunshine, come rain. From attending her school dances to her graduation, her brother’s basketball game, and their mum’s bake sales, Mr Reed was always there. Coming from a broken home, this meant a lot to me, and it only made me believe that being there for your family should come to any person voluntarily.

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2. Your partner comes second


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As you grow older, you will have many people in your life who may be important to you, but making your partner your top priority is crucial for a relationship to grow. His kids were important, but his wife was his life, and he didn’t shy away from making this apparent, even in front of his kids. Although at times they did have their fair share of disagreements and arguments, at the end of the day, they always stuck by each other.

3. Life skills aren’t learnt in classrooms

My girlfriend’s dad made sure that both his kids learnt basic life skills to survive in the world. From changing a flat tire, to fishing, cooking, doing the laundry, or even sewing, both Emily and her brother knew a little bit of everything to be independent. It seemed like Mr Reed took the time to teach his kids to survive on their own. Every holiday, he would come up with a plan to build something around the house, and involved his kids in assisting him. This way, they learnt so much outside their classrooms!

4. Humility is not weakness

Emily’s family was well-off. Owning a holiday home in the woods, vacationing in exotic places, and having enough money to spare for their children’s college education without them having to work part-time. They were rich, unlike my family, who struggled to make ends meet and were literally living off the phrase ‘hand to mouth.’ However, they weren’t the ones to brag about their riches and luxuries. In all my years of knowing Emily’s family, they never once made me feel like I was any different from them, although in reality, I was way way poorer than them! They treated everyone equally, with as much love and compassion, and they were very down to earth. They never splurged on fancy cars or expensive trinkets; they lived on the principle of needs vs wants. They bought only what was needed, and not wanted.

5. Beauty will fade away, develop a brain

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Despite inheriting her mother’s good looks and her father’s athletic body, Emily was always taught that her looks were secondary. While most girls her age spent heaps of money on makeup and designer wear, Emily spent a lot on books, traveling, and gathering experiences. So, she always knew something about everything, which made her extremely attractive to me. The girl could literally talk about everything under the sun.

6. Make your own money and spend it wisely

My girlfriend’s dad came from a modest background himself, who had fought all odds to make it in this world and build a comfortable life for himself. While most men who come from such backgrounds would often feel that they want to give their children the best, unlike what they had, Emily’s father didn’t think like that. He strongly believed that both his kids should be independent, follow their dreams, and earn success the hard way or their way. He encouraged them to save from a very young age, and taught them to invest smartly too. Every summer break, he’d make them do odd jobs and let them earn on their own.

7. Be a feminist, but first understand it

Well, I didn’t grow up with a sister or around too many girls, so my understanding of women in general wasn’t great. When I first met Emily, I had begun to treat her differently or like how I would treat any other woman – although, in my mind, I was only showing love and affection, she often felt delicate. And for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why that would bother her. Women need extra care, right? Well, not her. The house she grew up in didn’t make her feel that way. My girlfriend’s dad ensured that both his son and daughter weren’t discriminated because of their gender. His daughter was equally strong as his son, and he made sure he reminded her of it every day. So, she grew up to be an emotionally, mentally, and a physically strong woman. Feminism isn’t about giving girls that extra care or preferential treatment, it’s about empowering them to take care of themselves by being equal to men.

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8. Men can have emotions too

sad man_New_Love_Times

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The fact that boys aren’t allowed to show their emotions in public was something Mr Reed didn’t agree to. From time to time, he felt various emotions and didn’t hesitate to display them. When his wife cooked his favorite chops, he kissed her. When his son won a scholarship, he hugged him tight, and when his daughter got married, he did shed a tear.

My girlfriend’s dad is now my father-in-law, though he is much more than a father to me. He’s been the father I never had, and a man I really look up to. He’s taught me so many things over the years, for which I can’t thank him enough. I really appreciate all the wisdom and support he has shown me. I really hope that someday, when we have our own little Emily, I could make a similar impression on the guy she brings home. I’d be overjoyed if I could be one-tenth of the person he is, in the coming years.

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Article Name
8 Life Lessons I Learnt From My Girlfriend's Dad
Over the years, what I learnt from my girlfriend's dad was more dear to me than what my absentee father could ever have given me.


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