There’s a video that’s been circulating the internet for about three years. In it, Ron Alston, Jr, a father says morning affirmations in the mirror with his then three-year-old daughter. Since then, Alston has been repeatedly praised for helping his daughter, Aliya, establish a habit that builds self-confidence and serves as a tool for coping with the many twists and turns she may experience in life.
It turns out, the affirmations in the mirror were just one example of how Alston intentionally parents his daughter. Per Alston, “I do something different daily, depending on what’s going on in her life and will best serve her.”
Alston began talking with Aliya when she was still in the womb. “I became obsessive when I knew I was having a daughter. I knew I wanted to be awesome for her.”
Wellness of Mind
A typical morning exchange between father and daughter sounds like
Alston: Good morning, Aliya! Is it going to be a good day?
Aliya: Yes, Daddy.
Alston: Why will it be a good day today?
Aliya contemplates the day’s plans. Who she’ll see? What she’ll do? Is the sun shining? Through this attitude of gratitude exercise, Alston helps his daughter build a sustainable, lifelong habit.
Alston also makes certain Aliya is clear on two points. “You’re not better than anyone. Nobody is better than you.” These words ensure his daughter knows it’s possible for someone to be prettier, faster, smarter, etc, or for her to be so to others. However, that doesn’t make them better. As he says, “You are the greatest version of you.”
Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk
Alston uses this questioning technique to teach Aliya how to think about the future implications of her actions, too. In doing so, he gives her a tool to overcome mistakes, failures and other setbacks. He explains it in the context of spilt milk.
If Aliya accidentally drops a glass of milk, instead of getting upset he asks, “What can we do to clean up the milk?” This approach encourages Aliya to figure out she’s capable of resolving the problem and determine a game plan. All these interactions reinforce Aliya can trust her father and create an open line of communication.
Wellness of Body
It would be appropriate to refer to Alston establishing these habits as building muscles. Alston has a Masters degree in sports and recreation and makes his career in developmental sports. As he looks for ways to connect with his daughter that feel natural and comfortable to him, they’re often found on a playground, in a park or
Even in these settings, his words are chosen carefully. When Aliya makes a great throw, he cheers her, “You threw that like a strong girl!” He’s witnessed boys try to tell her she can’t do an activity she’s attempting and watches with glee as she often outperforms them. In disbelief, the boys often question how she did it. The words Alston loves to hear? “My Daddy taught me that.”
How Do I Raise a Girl?
Alston credits his father for teaching him how to be a great father. However, he gives Aliya full credit for teaching him how to raise a girl. He listens to what she wants, then figures out how to do it. Putting her hair up just so? YouTube to the rescue. And after getting a pedicure with her, Alston decided this should become a monthly ritual for them.
Keys to Being a Great Dad
When asked what it takes to be a great dad, Alston provided the following.
- Spend time together.
- Do things you grew up doing and that feel comfortable.
- Do what your child wants to do so they get the opportunity to teach you.
- Don’t focus so hard on what experts say you should do to be a good parent that you forget to actually connect with your child.
As a single dad, Alston adds:
- Maintain open communication with mom.
- Don’t make negative statements about mom.
- Don’t make your child feel bad for wanting to be with mom, and let them make a call if they do.
- Remember, it’s really all about the child.
There’s Value in Tradition
Alston seized on a moment and has created a tradition based on his love of sports and their shared birthday (yes, you read that right). For Aliya’s first birthday, he created sports jerseys with their names and ages on them. Someone captured a picture of the two
At the end of the day, Alston concludes, a great parent will help their child “understand they’re loved, they’re confident, and they can do anything.”
Ron Alston, Jr.