What my dad didn't teach me

With Father's Day just around the corner, I've been reflecting on what my dad has taught me--which got me thinking about what he didn't teach me. For example:...

Fred Lukens pulls his daughter Katie (Lukens) Pinke in a wagon. Pinke credits Lukens for all the things he never taught her.

With Father's Day just around the corner, I've been reflecting on what my dad has taught me-which got me thinking about what he didn't teach me. For example:

Someone recently posted on Instagram about attending an event to discuss and address "gender issues" in the food and agriculture industries. My farmer and business owner dad never mentioned there were gender issues in food and agriculture or anywhere else in the world. He never told me I couldn't do something because I was a girl.

My youngest daughter, Anika, age 7, feels the same way. I overheard her tell her older sister: "Girls can do anything boys can do. Except pee standing up. I know because I tried it. It doesn't work." I'll leave it at that, but I never told Anika anything more than what she already knows and believes.

I didn't even know a difference in gender could be an issue until about third grade when the boys at our church decided to include girls in the Pinewood Derby. My grandpa and my mom helped me make my car. The short story is I won, and the next year the "boys" voted no girls were allowed in the Pinewood Derby. I'm almost certain it was the "leader" dads who made the decision. I'll never forget how it made me feel, and that's why I've saved my winning Pinewood Derby car all these years in a shoebox.

My dad took me to business meetings and never told me gender could impact wages or skill set.


My dad had me write down how many baskets I would make every day on the driveway. He never told me about Title IX and that 10 years before I was in school there wasn't organized girls basketball in our area. All I knew is my dad was a great basketball player. When I was in elementary school in the 1980s, my aunt played college basketball. My dad believed I could be a basketball player too.

My dad never told me I couldn't be a discus thrower. He supported my desire to participate in that event from junior high into college.

My dad never encouraged me to take shortcuts. Hard work and perseverance would get me ahead in life.

My dad never told me to quit. At times, I have quit, but not at the advisement of my dad.

My dad never told me I was less than or superior to anyone.

My dad never told me I was anything less because I am a woman. I am wonderfully and perfectly made.

My dad never told me I couldn't be a mom and a professional at the same time. He has always been a dad and a professional. I set out to do the same thanks to his example.

My dad never told me I was any different than anyone else in my profession of agriculture communications. My whole life I knew my personality is like my dad's. He never told me I couldn't follow in his footsteps or forge my own path.


My dad never told me about doubt. Instead, he taught me to believe.

My dad never told me to march or protest to advance my place in life. Instead, he taught me to create change by example and through courageous leadership.

My dad set me up for success-in part because he didn't tell me who I was or wasn't or what I should or shouldn't accomplish. My dad's leadership gave me vision and purpose to pursue loftier goals than if I had been pushed into cookie cutter life.

Today I live in a rural community. I work in and live surrounded by agriculture. I've worked in agriculture communications at various management levels. I've been married for more than 10 years. I'm mom to three children. I volunteer in my community and for my passions.

I often call my dad and mom and say: "Why did you never tell me about ... ?" "How did I not know that ... ?"

"Well, Katie, what are you going to do about it?" my dad would respond.

Sometimes he agrees with my plan and other times he advises and redirects me.

My dad never told me he was protecting me ... but he was. He didn't protect me from everything, though. He couldn't. He did give me a safety net with his love and leadership.


My dad never told me how much I needed him or that I didn't deserve his unconditional love and forgiveness. But he gave me both and he still does.

My dad never told me I would inherit his bad joints and have an aching back and knees at age 38. Thank you, Dad, for everything you didn't tell me.

I appreciate your humble manner of leadership, which gave me a foundation to build on and develop my passions. You recognized my strengths and weaknesses and found ways to channel them to help me grow into the mom, wife, professional and volunteer I am today. Happy Father's Day to my favorite Farmer Fred.

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