The little victories here, the little mess-ups there can make it feel as though you’re barely scraping by. But then one day your child does something that takes you by surprise. No, not making an epic fart noise or nailing a great top-rope move onto you from the arm of the couch (but those are still awesome). We’re talking about moments of kindness, empathy, fearlessness, or creativity that stop you in your tracks, fill you with pride, and make you think “Huh, I guess we’re doing alright.” It’s essential to think back on these moments and give yourself permission to feel good about them. That’s coal for the engine. To that end, we asked 14 dads to think on and share their proudest moment. Here’s what they said.
1. When My Toddler “Opened Her Own Business”
“One of the proudest moments I’ve ever had was when my daughter was four. I’ve been a business owner for years now, and I burst with pride when she told me she wanted to open her own business. She wanted to open her own organic fruit flavored bubbles business because, ‘There are no bubbles you can eat that taste good.’ It was adorable and I had to laugh at her delegation skills, because she was the ‘idea person’ and I was ‘the worker’ to make all the bubbles she needed to create. As silly as it was, I was proud of her for her entrepreneurial spirit.” – Glen, 32, Texas
2. When My Son Earned His Black Belt
My proudest moment was when my son earned his black belt in tae kwon do. My wife was also going for her black belt at the same time, so there was a little friendly competition between them. The week following the test, we waited for the phone call from their instructor and, when it finally came, we learned that my son had passed but my wife hadn’t. She was disappointed, but so proud of our son. She passed after two more attempts, which proved how difficult the test actually was, and reminded us both how proud we were of our son and our family.” – Chris, 46, England
3. When My Son Donated His Savings.
“I’m a parent of two boys — six and two — so I’ve experienced tons of moments where I’ve felt proud of them. But the proudest moment in my life, as a father, was when my six year old learned about Hurricane Ida. After hearing about its impact, he asked to donate the money he had saved for a trip to Disneyland. I took him to the American Red Cross the next day, and he brought his piggy bank.” – Bill, 41, Wyoming
4. When My Son Stopped a Friend from Getting Bullied.
“Spoiler alert: my son got beat up. But I was told he did it because he stood up to a kid who was bullying another kid. He doesn’t even know the kid that well – the one being bullied – which I think is what made me so proud. Like he was just doing the right thing. He saw someone being picked on, and he got involved. That shows courage and selflessness in a way I’m not sure I had when I was his age. Like I said, he took a beating. But he wasn’t even upset. He almost didn’t get that what he did was the ‘right thing’. It was more like, ‘Someone was being bullied. What else was I supposed to do? Just let it happen?’ As a dad, that’s a huge reason to be proud.” – Michael, 40, Texas
5. When My Daughter Went Zip-lining.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a very close relationship with my father. Now that I have kids of my own, I have put in a tremendous amount of time since they were born to ensure that I am there when they need me. One of the proudest moments I had with my daughter was when we visited Guatemala. We had planned to go zip-lining but, since she’s so scared of heights, I wasn’t sure if she would. She made us so proud when she didn’t show any hesitation the moment they harnessed her up. And, even better, she didn’t have any regrets after, and overcame her fear of heights.” – Alex, California
6. When My Son Assisted an Elderly Woman
“I’m the father of two toddlers, and we do our best to raise them as good, respectful boys. One time, while we were with them in preschool, an older woman who was there for her grandchild, was sitting in the waiting area. Once it was time to fetch the kid, she stood up, ready to get him as he came out. My son was also running towards me, but then when he saw the old lady, she began walking slowly, took her hand and said ‘Are you okay? Be careful!’ The woman appreciated the gesture, and allowed him to walk her to the door. I was so proud to see my son growing into such a kind-hearted, responsible person.” – Ian, 38, California
7. When My Son Helped Me Shovel the Driveway
“He’s 7, and one winter day we got completely snowed in. I was out working for about an hour when I turned around and saw my son standing there with his little toy shovel ready to help. I asked him what he was doing, and he said that he didn’t want me to have to do it all by myself. I was actually close to being finished by the time he came out, but he was able to scrape up some of the little patches at the end of the driveway. The snow stayed for a while, but the gesture melted my heart as a very proud father.” — Robert, 42, Maryland
8. When My Daughter Comforted a Girl at the Dentist
“My daughter is pretty brave when it comes to just about everything. So, in this situation, it wasn’t her bravery I was super proud of, it was her compassion. We were walking out of her dentist appointment, at which she’d had her first cavity taken care of. There was another girl in the waiting room with her mother, obviously very scared. My daughter walked over to her and asked if she was afraid and, when she said she was, my daughter told her the dentist was really nice, and she didn’t need to be scared. The girl smiled, which hit me in the feels, and my daughter said the whole thing with a numb mouth and extra drool, which made it super cute.” – Darrell, 37, Ohio