I was 18-years-old when I first heard my father curse — hilariously enough, it was over some bird droppings that made their way onto his car. It's memorable to me, since my parents tried their absolute hardest to shield my sister and I from improper language, but it was also a milestone, since I realized that my relationship with my dad was changing with age. Once you've reached adulthood, obviously it's OK to say "the s word" with no hesitation.
After calling him out on it, his response was something similar to "you're an adult now, you can handle a curse word." How he was able to shut down "Dad Dad" and morph into "I'm your friend now! Dad" was astonishing. It was like the flip of a switch.
Since then, our relationship has only gotten stronger. My mom passed away when I was in my early college years. Obviously the bond and friendship that has blossomed was definitely, in part, due to the loss — as in, we depended on each other more, and made the extra effort to "check up" on each other quite often during the week to make sure that we were staying strong without her immensely warm, sweet presence. However, even if we didn't face this monumental family tragedy, I'd like to believe that our relationship would still be somewhat similar. Sure, I'd have the reassurance that someone else was in the house with him in case something happened (and probably cut the insane amount of phone calls in half) but we'd still be treating each other like adults who share a lot of similarities and personality traits.
If you're still close with your father, here are a few ways you'll notice the strong bond growing as birthdays pass.
1. You'll notice that you've randomly acquired his interests.
I was never big into genealogy, but my dad is obsessed — and shows like Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? didn't help the issue. While he had a brief idea as to his genetic makeup, he still wanted an official DNA kit to know for sure. When he opened it up on Christmas, his eyes lit up in amazement.
Long story short, as he had the "brief idea," he figured that it'd be more interesting if I took the kit. As it was his gift, it was only right to abide by his wishes. I tried to gracefully spit into a vial (failing at the "gracefully" part) and we sent it off. Weeks later, both of us were really excited about the results. As it turns out, I'm not Russian, Irish, and German like I originally thought — in fact, I'm not German at all. So many class projects turned in during middle school were based on lies.
The experiment definitely made me appreciate the topic a bit more. Dad and I were both excited when Bill Hader appeared on Finding Your Roots, since we both like him ("he's extremely talented," per my dad), and discussed the show at length after it aired. I even took notes while viewing, to have some talking points. Years ago, I didn't think I'd care much about Bill being related to Charlemagne, but now? Whole different story.
2. You'll realize that his fatherly advice is just something you'd do yourself, naturally.
Right before my wedding, my dad figured that since I was getting married, I didn't need his fatherly advice anymore. That thought was a little heartbreaking to hear, and I definitely reassured him into knowing he'd always have an important place in my life. But, as years went on, I realized something — I didn't totally need his advice after all. Know why? Since pretty much everything my dad lectured me about were things I'd have done myself. We have very similar opinions on all of the important stuff in life, and having my dad chime in was just rehashing decisions I'd have made myself.
It's amazing to see how many life lessons actually stuck. Sure, we obviously disagree on a few things, but the overall life decisions I'd make are mostly identical to the decisions my dad would make, which is pretty reassuring. It makes me feel like I've properly transformed into an actual adult.
3. You'll get really, really bummed when he refuses to embrace technology.
Back in the day, you didn't care that he dismissed your Gameboy. It was for kids, and he was an adult, and it made sense. But today, it's even tougher. You know he doesn't have a DVR, and enjoys television, but the fact that he's not willing to even give television streaming a try is somewhat maddening. He also deems anything Internet-related as too intimidating. Why do you care, right?
You care since you want your dad to stay in the loop, and get the most out of his life by having this stuff. You know he's smart enough to figure it out if he gave it a chance, and just want him to have the same opportunities as others. And you're willing to guide him through the process, so that he can have services and methods of communication that'll make him happy.
4. You'll understand the true struggle of parenthood.
My mom and dad were married for years before my older sister was born, and that said, my dad was 30 when she entered the picture. Meanwhile, I'm 32 and struggle to keep an air plant alive. While money is a big reason for our generation holding back a bit, my parents were both brand new teachers after college, so it wasn't like money was flowing. They knew they wanted kids, went for it, and made it work.
It's tough to compare yourself with your parents after realizing that times have changed, but one thing's for sure — you'll definitely appreciate their hustle and fearlessness that they put forth in order to make ends meet. It's admirable, and you'll have so much more respect for your dad when you think about starting your own family.
5. He'll truly appreciate your thoughts and opinions.
As you get older, you'll (hopefully) get wiser as well. Your father will likely open up topics of discussion. What was once "how was your school day?" will now turn towards world news, politics, and celebrity gossip. It'll be just like the conversation you overheard from the adult table on Thanksgiving, when you were chowing down on turkey with your cousins.
Even better, both of you will learn from each other. He'll appreciate knowing what a young person thinks, while you'll get the thoughts and opinions of someone who's seen the world change for much, much longer.
6. You'll consider him to be a friend.
He'll always be your dad, but your relationship will morph into a friendship that you'll always be able to count on. Dad will always have your back, and wouldn't ever think of cancelling plans with you last minute when a better situation comes around. He doesn't even need to be entertained — just talking with you, and discussing family news with you, will be enough. Yes, I consider my dad to be one of my best friends, and if you judged by my call log, you'd see why. He's a guy that treasures the person I've become, and will always have my best interests at heart.
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