Lao Beifong was a wealthy figure in the Earth Kingdom town of Gaoling. He was the husband of Poppy Beifong and the father of Toph. Caring deeply for his daughter and only wishing for her safety, he was extremely overprotective of her, and hid her existence from the rest of the world.
After it was discovered that Toph was an earthbender, Lao enrolled her in earthbending classes with Master Yu, though he only allowed her to learn basic forms and breathing techniques. Lao loved his only child dearly but failed to recognize what his daughter truly wanted, believing her blindness made her weak, helpless, and frail. As a result of this, he had her guarded and cared for the majority of the time. However, unbeknownst to him, Toph had superb earthbending skills. When Toph revealed her earthbending prowess by defeating the Earth Rumble VI competitors who were holding AvatarAang captive, his fear for her safety increased rather than diminished. He resolved to guard her even more closely, claiming that she had too much time for leisurely activities. This drove Toph to run away from the confines of her home at the age of twelve to teach Aang earthbending. Upon realizing she was missing, Lao assumed Aang had kidnapped her and commissioned Xin Fu, the host of the Earth Rumble VI tournament, and Master Yu, Toph's earthbending teacher, to do "whatever it [took] to bring [her] home", with a chest of gold as a reward.
Lao was a caring and kind man who sought the best for his family, though he could be extremely overbearing, notably to his only daughter, Toph. Ignorant to Toph's true earthbending abilities, he perceived her as helpless and fragile, an image to which, in reality, Toph did not compare in the least. This view remained unchanged even after seeing first hand Toph's undeniable skill. Toph's blindness resulted in his overprotectiveness of her, and she was placed under strict surveillance. His wish to keep his daughter safe often influenced his decisions and contradicted Toph's own desires. It was the culmination of his overprotective nature and his blindness to the truth which galvanized Toph to leave, but even following this, rather than admitting his error, his attitude did not change, as he believed Aang had kidnapped her.