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Words of Life

Let Her Know She Makes You Proud

By Jay Payleitner June 15, 2014 Words of Life

For 32 years, my dad was principal at Harrison Street School, the only elementary school on the east side of Geneva, Illinois. Growing up, his children — Mary Kay, Mark, Jay, and Sue — often heard some version of this statement, “Oh, you must be related to Ken Payleitner, the principal. Is he your dad?” And that was fine. He was admired and respected by his staff and students. The question was never embarrassing, but as a goofy nine-year-old I never knew how to respond. 

My older sister, Mary Kay, spent more time in and around Geneva and heard that question more than any of us. After graduating college, Mary Kay began a successful real estate career serving the Geneva area and was never surprised when someone asked her if she was related to Ken Payleitner. 

One summer a young family moved to town. They appreciated my sister’s above-and-beyond efforts to find them just the right house on the east side of Geneva. As fall approached, that mom went to register her kindergartner at the local elementary school and happened to meet the principal. Of course she said, “Oh, you must be related to Mary Kay Payleitner, the real estate agent.” My dad didn’t miss a beat. He puffed up his chest a little and said, “Why, yes — that’s my daughter. She’s one of the best real estate agents in town.” 

The story doesn’t end there. After new student registration was over that day, the principal sat down and wrote a short note to the real estate agent. It began, “Dearest daughter, you made be proud today…” And in his note he shared the above scenario. 

The story still doesn’t end there. Back in the mid-1970s, the salaries of school administrators in the Chicago suburbs were modest. As a matter of fact, a hard-working young realtor could actually earn a higher annual income than an elementary school principal. In her second or third year in the real estate business, that’s what’s happened to my sister. I’m not sure how those financial figures were revealed, but when they came out my dad sat down and wrote another note to his oldest daughter. It began, “Dearest Mary Kay, you make me proud…” 

Dad, I know you want your daughter to do well. To succeed. To do great things. But would it be okay with you if she made more money than you? Would that bruise your male ego? Even if your little girl is still a little girl, you need to look at her and think, Yes, that would be okay…that would be fantastic…I would be proud. 

Backing up, the most relevant point to this story of my dad and my sister from more than three decades ago might be this: Keep paper, envelopes, stamps, and an up-to-date address book handy. We may not be able to save the U.S. Postal Service, but we can certainly take advantage of the remarkable opportunity we have to put an envelope in the little box in front of our house and have it end up a few days later in the hands of our daughter who is off at camp, in a college dorm, at a military base, an apartment, or wherever life has taken her. If she’s still living in a bedroom down the hallway, you might even consider leaving a handwritten note in an envelope on her pillow. 

If you’re not sure what to write, consider starting with these proven words: “Dearest daughter, you make me proud…”


Taken from 52 Things Daughters Need from Their Dads by Jay Payleitner. Copyright ©2013 by Jay Payleitner. Published by Harvest House Publishers , Eugene, Oregon 97402. Used by permission. 

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