For the last five years I’ve had the privilege of parenting a beautiful princess who calls me Daddy. Fatherhood has been the best blessing of my life. Ava has taught me about love, life and happiness. My bond with my daughter began in the womb; I sang and talked to her while she was in her mommy’s belly. The moment I first held Ava in my arms is a feeling I’ll never forget. She wrapped her hand around my finger and we’ve been inseparable since.

I had so many ideas of the type of dad I would be and so much of it changed as Ava began to grow and develop her personality. It’s my duty to teach my child how she should be treated by any boy or man she encounters and that’s a huge responsibility. Being her first impression of a man, I work hard to be a dad she can look up to and be proud of. I find it important to lead by example and allow my words to match my actions.

I approach fatherhood with three key factors at the forefront of everything I say and do:

  • Healthy communication
  • An abundance of love
  • Affection and discipline

My first goal in fatherhood was to establish good communication with Ava. I believe communication is a very important aspect of relationships. I wanted Ava to feel comfortable and safe to express her feelings. We regularly have conversations where we share our ideas, emotions and opinions on various topics including, friendship, education, how to treat people, and the importance of listening and being respectful. 

I’ve been surprised by some of the questions she’s asked but I value the opportunity to teach her on subjects that spark her interest. These conversations, usually held at a local park, restaurant, or simply the couch in our living room, have established a great foundation for our bond as father and daughter.

What kid doesn’t love endless hugs and kisses? Affection is key in the relationship I have with Ava. We say I love you, give each other hugs, kisses, and use positive words of affirmation to encourage each other all day long. I like to give her compliments; “you’re beautiful”,“ I love your smile”, and “you’re amazing” are a few examples. I also empower her to believe she can do anything she puts her mind to, “you’re smart”, “you can do it”, and “you rock”. I want Ava to be confident in herself and teach her the importance of self esteem. She’s become very good with speaking positive thoughts and we eliminated “can’t” from our vocabulary. Our quality time is spent sharing our love and thoughts of each other, which is an awesome environment for us both. 

There’s a lesson in every experience. I believe a disciplined child becomes a well rounded adult. Effective discipline allows me to guide and teach Ava about values and morals. I teach her to treat others the way she wants to be treated, to be respectful, and to appreciate what she has. Discipline helps me hold Ava accountable. It’s aided in potty training, eliminating bad behaviors, calming temper tan drams, and establishing an earning system for toys and special activities. Ava’s learning there are consequences to doing the wrong thing and the different approaches to discipline are a daily reminder in helping her make decisions.

There’s a special bond between a father and his daughter, and I’ve been blessed to experience it first hand. Nothing makes me happier than observing my child grow, learn, and experience life. Seeing life through the eyes of your child, gives you a fresh perspective. I’m super proud to be a dad and I look forward to many more years of daddy-daughter talks, hugs and kisses, and the teaching moments of discipline.

I love being a Dad!

Michael Gardner on Instagram
Michael Gardner
Michael Gardner is a Proud Dad and sewing enthusiast. As the founder of Daddy Dressed Me by Michael Gardner, he uses fashion and creativity as a tool to bond with my 5 year old daughter Ava. He sews the clothing and she models it. He was raised by his Mother and Grandmother to be intelligent, respectful and responsible. A native of the City of Brother Love, Philadelphia, Pa., he is college educated, currently working in Finance and striving to be the best father for his Princess.