Although I’m convinced that Fathers’ Day, like all of the other ‘Special Persons Days’, was a construct of a struggling greeting card industry, it has taken hold in the American calendar and I’m happy to embrace it. I won the lottery of birth when I was born to Thomas J. Rietano 50+ years ago and I’m always up to celebrate my luck – and my Dad.
Studies have shown that strong, loving fathers have a significant positive impact on their daughters’ academic and career success – and that rings true for me. Rarely have I wavered in confidence or faith when faced with a challenge; my dad believed in me, always – and, hence, I believe in myself.
When I sang my first solo in 6th grade (the wholly inappropriate “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar – what on earth was Miss Rintel thinking?!), my dad left work and snuck into the back of the auditorium to listen. After the performance, I was called down to the nurse’s office, unexpectedly, where Mrs. Adami, the school nurse and a friend of my dad’s, presented me with a folded piece of paper. It read: “You sang like a nightingale, Susan. I love you, Dad.” It was one of a lifetime’s worth of written encouragements (brief, yet tender) from my Dad in support of an accomplishment or a struggle – and one of the most memorable.
Dad has always found particular joy in watching me emerge as a businessperson. He encouraged me, a Literature major, to accept a coveted position in Xerox Corporation’s top-ranked marketing training program after college. I enjoyed a successful 10-year career there before opting out to have and raise four children. Early in my motherhood journey, Dad was first to encourage me to join a start-up that helped “MBA-Moms” like me find flexible work.
My 20 years with Flexible Resources were particularly fulfilling as my partners and I championed the flexible workplace and, in the process, helped many moms balance work and family. And now, as I reinvent myself again with Prepare to Launch U, Dad is the first to ask “How’s the new business going, Sus?”; the first to read Kelley’s and my newsletter; the first to forward the link to our latest TV interview.
Yep, there’s no doubt that this daughter has benefitted from the influence of her strong, loving father.
But there’s another key dad who, I’ve learned through my own experience and from watching the many women I’ve helped return to work over the years: the supportive husband. Women who opt out to raise children are much more successful opting back in when they have husbands at home who support their decision in word and deed.
I’m lucky that my husband, Bob, is one of those guys. He has taken in stride my zig-zag career of working full-time, home full-time, working part-time, volunteering full-time, to working full-time+ now as Kelley and I launch our business. Over the years, he’s never been sure what he would come home to – complete mayhem (which usually meant I was working) or lesser mayhem (which usually meant I wasn’t)? Food on the table or an empty fridge? Kids home and settling in or one kid forgotten on a practice field somewhere? Whatever scenario Bob entered, he capably did what needed doing.
Whether you are considering a return to work, or currently balancing work and family on this Fathers’ Day, I’ll bet there’s a father in your life who has positively impacted your career choices and performance. So, go thank him.
And let me take this opportunity to thank mine: Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Bob. Happy Fathers’ Day!