In this very reflective post, a daughter writes on why the presence of a loving father is so important in a daughter’s life. A must read for all fathers!
All women marry their fathers. They marry who their father was. They marry who they wanted their father to be or they marry their fantasy about their father.
Today is Father’s Day. I was supposed to do another story on Father’s Day, but then I settled for this. In fact, I called up the editor the first thing in the morning and told her that I have dropped the earlier idea and this is what I want to do. She agreed. God bless such editors who take calls on a Sunday morning and agree with your new idea!
Parenthood is a subject we have talked over and over for centuries. Our books, movies, stories, folklore and songs have immortalized it. However, being a parent is always ‘a job in progress.’ You learn it on the job. No one else can do it for you.
In India, a father is often a man who is supposed to be the provider. That’s how a father is often projected to be. Not much has been really talked about daddy and daughter and his influence on her. We have been talking about male-female relationships, women empowerment and everything, but somewhere it seems, we have forgotten to talk about the basics. The basics are that a father is the man who first teaches his daughter, how the world needs to treat her. He is her first set of standards.
The basics are that a father is the man who first teaches his daughter, how the world needs to treat her. He is her first set of standards.
A father is the first man in a girl’s life. Even before what popular media or other authority figures teach her, it’s Daddy who teaches her the basics. Know what I have realized over the years? We are all children walking as adults. There is something about children; they make it all about themselves. When Daddy is not kind and loving towards a daughter, she somewhere sub-consciously makes that story that ‘She is unworthy of love.’
After that, she might change houses, travel countries, yet she will live that story internally and create experiences to live up to it again and again until she relearns that she is worth all that love. The process can be painful. If Daddy is a distant man and is also abusive, she learns her first lesson that somewhere it’s okay to be treated by a man the way Daddy treats her. And when she grows up, she will find it okay by another man to be treated that way.
When Daddy accepts her and calls a girl pretty, she will grow up with a fine body image. Otherwise, in homes where daughters are criticized, they grow up with very low self esteem. And in course of time, they will run from pillar to post to get that stamp of approval. Dad is that first stamp of approval. Research shows that daughters whose fathers are very involved in their daughters life in very loving ways, do much better in life and career than others who don’t.
A plethora of women talk about their experiences with Daddies who were unavailable that made them feel abandoned.
I was watching Iyanla Vanzant’s show on OWN with Oprah Winfrey called “Daddyless Daughters.” A plethora of women talk about their experiences with Daddies who were unavailable that made them feel abandoned. And the same story that they carried through their adult relationships with men. The fear of abandonment becomes so overwhelming that being comfortable in an adult relationship with another man becomes next to impossible. It’s about the human mind; we keep repeating the stories we believed as children, unless they become our realities.
The healthy presence of a father is more important than all the lessons on living a good life you can teach a daughter later in life. A father is the first man a daughter is looking up to.
I lost my father when I was ten. I never had a strong father figure in life. I don’t for a moment say that I was brought up in any lesser way than any other kid. We all ended up doing very well for ourselves. But both the parents bring different things to the table. Mostly, I picked up messages from popular media, which either showed an absolutely perfect man-woman relationship or ones at the other extreme. Basically, I was this confused girl, who did not know what is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior from the opposite sex. Ofcourse my self esteem was not that great too. I already had a very poor body image.
My journey to find that one hero who would rescue me began. That was how I started looking at boys of my age.
Now that I look back, I was looking for approval and with such low esteem, I was looking for someone who would tell me that I am good enough and pretty enough. My journey to find that one hero who would rescue me began. That was how I started looking at boys of my age. Basically, I played the damsel in distress with huge fears of abandonment.
As my basics were all confused, I did not know what behaviours to accept and what not to. The few men I grew up around did not seem to like me, so I grew up with the idea that I was not good enough for any guy. So, I got to work harder. In the process, I learnt to take bad behavior and when a male friend moved away with his new found girlfriend, I again made it all about myself, on how it was all my fault and how bad I was, and I almost made up that story of how perfect was that girl. Anyways, years later, I knew that, that so-called perfect lady in my head was a very abusive lady, and my friend and she were in an abusive relationship. They both broke up and moved on with their lives.
A male friend of mine called me beautiful once and I remember I cried like a baby. He was kind and nice. That was the first day I healed something within and my journey to wholeness began. Earlier, if any man called me ugly, I would try harder to gain his approval. Now, I am so okay with all I am, I can now laugh off. But the thing with life is that everyone approves of you, the day you do it yourself.
Here is a note to all the Daddies who are reading this: know that your daughter needs your time, your approval and the lessons only you can teach her.
Here is a note to all the Daddies who are reading this: it does not matter if you are with your daughter or you are divorced from your wife and far from your daughter; know that your daughter needs your time, your approval and the lessons only you can teach her. Mothers are amazing. My mother taught me all she could and gave me all the wonderful things she could, but I never learnt the other side of the coin.
I accepted bad behavior, I made the story of abandonment, I lived unnecessary hurts and guilt, I suffered a lot. Now writing what I am is easy because I have moved out of those old stories. But a child is too little aware to move out soon. Your presence and approval is very important to her.
And to the ladies who are still living that story, please know, that every belief you have in your head is a story you were told. Go deep down, ask why are you accepting what you are, may be the answer will be, that you have somewhere become comfortable with the painful story you tell yourself each day. Don’t you think it’s time, you start a new story? Daddy is gone, what he did or did not, is his story. You as an adult have all the rights and power to start a new whole story, and live it with honour!
Last but not the least, a very Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads. I know for sure, it’s not an easy job!
Father and daughter image via Shutterstock
Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.
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