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Pinke: What my dad didn't teach me

I've been reflecting lately on what my dad has taught me—which got me thinking about what he didn't teach me.

Someone recently posted on Instagram about attending an event to discuss "gender issues" in the food and agriculture industries. My farmer and business owner dad never mentioned there were gender issues in food and agriculture or anywhere else in the world. He never told me I couldn't do something because I was a girl.

My youngest daughter, Anika, age 7, feels the same way. I overheard her tell her older sister: "Girls can do anything boys can do. Except pee standing up. I know because I tried it. It doesn't work." I never told Anika anything more than what she already knows and believes.

I didn't even know gender could be an issue until about third grade when the boys at our church decided to include girls in the Pinewood Derby. My grandpa and my mom helped me make my car. The short story is I won, and the next year the "boys" voted no girls were allowed. I'll never forget how it made me feel, and that's why I've saved my winning Pinewood Derby car all these years in a shoebox.

My dad took me to business meetings and never told me gender could impact wages or skill set.

My dad never told me about Title IX and that 10 years before I was in school there wasn't organized girls basketball in our area. I knew my dad was a great basketball player. When I was in elementary school in the 1980s, my aunt played college basketball. My dad believed I could be a basketball player too.

My dad never told me I couldn't be a discus thrower. He supported my desire to participate in that event from junior high into college.

My dad never encouraged me to take shortcuts. Hard work and perseverance would get me ahead in life.

My dad never taught me to quit. At times, I have quit, but not at the advisement of my dad.

My dad never taught me I was less than or superior to anyone.

My dad never taught me I couldn't be a mom and a professional. He has always been a dad and a professional. I set out to do the same thanks to his example.

My dad never taught me about doubt. Instead, he taught me to believe.

My dad set me up for success — in part because he didn't tell me who I was or wasn't or what I should or shouldn't accomplish. My dad's leadership gave me vision and purpose to pursue loftier goals than if I had been pushed into cookie cutter life.

]My dad never told me how much I needed him or that I didn't deserve his unconditional love and forgiveness. But he gave me both and he still does.

My dad never told me I would inherit his bad joints and have an aching back and knees at age 38. Thank you, Dad, for everything you didn't tell me.

I appreciate your humble manner of leadership, which gave me a foundation to build on and develop my passions. You recognized my strengths and weaknesses and found ways to channel them to help me grow into the mom, wife, professional and volunteer I am today.

Happy Father's Day to my favorite Farmer Fred.

Pinke is the publisher of Agweek.

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