Ron Alston, Jr. started trying to instill confidence in his daughter before she was even born.
“I would play the 1996 Chicago Bulls anthem to her mom’s stomach,” he says, referring to the Alan Parsons’ Projects’ ‘Sirius,’ “and that’s the greatest basketball team ever, so I knew she was going to be the greatest.”
He even wanted to play the song in the delivery room, but the hospital wouldn’t let him bring his phone in, he says.
After she was born, he switched to the Sesame Street gang singing “What I Am” and “Don’t Give Up,” two songs with other inspirational messages.
“We would listen to them driving in the car, when she woke up, things like that,” says Alston, 27, a program director at a YMCA in Warsaw, Virginia.
As Aliya, now 3, grew older and could understand words, he started having inspirational chats with her, something his own father did with him.
But it wasn’t until last September, that he decided to share one of those chats with the public.
“I thought there was a need for more positivity on Facebook and a more uplifting ‘You can do it’ kinda feel,” says Alston, a single dad who shares custody of Aliya with her mom. “Everybody’s sharing negative things. People are so divided. So I created this to share positive stories that other people shared. I would also share my own stories and my own quotes.”
He posted a video of one of those chats — about how to have a positive pep talk before school — on his DFG (Destined for Greatness) Facebook page.
“I just put it up randomly that day,” he says. “It was something I was already doing.”
It was an instant hit and now has more than 17 million views.
“I would get 75 to 100 messages every morning when I woke up from my personal Facebook page and the DFG [Destined for Greatness] page,” he says. “A lot of them were, ‘It’s such a beautiful thing that you’re doing with your daughter.’ ‘I wish my dad did it with me.’ Or ‘I wish I had a father’ or ‘I didn’t think to do this with my children.’ “
And he still does the daily chats to this day.
“I think it’s important for little girls to hear this from their dads,” he says, “because that’s the first role model of a man that they see. They no longer will have to look for these affirmation or sense of self worth from another guy. I can’t account for how somebody else is going to treat her, I can only show her how it should be.”
And he never misses an opportunity to connect with her when they’re together.
“I want her to understand that she does have self worth, that she’s amazing,” he says. “No matter what she does in life, she’s special. And not special to the point where she is better than other people because we do recite that. ‘I’m not better than anyone, but no one’s better than me.’ “
And his own father still does that with him as well.
“He calls me all the time and says the same thing, ‘No matter what you’re doing, make sure you put your all into it’ or ‘If you’re going through trouble, this is what you should do,’ ” he says. “I really never feel super stressed or that I can’t do something or that’s something’s too tough.
“No matter how hard times are, I just know it’s going to be better,” he says. “It’s because that’s how I was raised to think. I truly do believe that.”