My father and I weren’t close. We didn’t have father and daughter talks but I still remember how he used to be particular about my personal hygiene and that I ironed my clothes for school. He used to feed my guinea pig when I neglected to and he bought a kite for me to fly on Easter Sunday. He is the reason why I like Easy listening music and enjoy movie classics. I remember him showing me how to fry an egg. I remember him making breakfast sometimes. I also remember him spending time with me. He used to take the family on outings and to the drive-in movie. I also remember the day he chose to leave when my mother gave him a choice–stay for my sake or leave. In retrospect, I realized that it would not have been fair for him to remain in an unhappy marriage for my sake.
He and I haven’t been in touch for a while. I wish we had a closer relationship and that he was enthusiastic about knowing his grandson. All in good time, I guess. I have often wondered about how her relationship with her father affects a woman. Laura Ingalls had a close and loving relationship with her father. She even planned to marry him when she grew up. One of my co-workers has two daughters whom he adores and I have no doubt that these girls will grow up and have healthy relationships with men. They have a good role model in their father.
I watched a program once about a woman who later joined the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir. She never really knew her father. He left when she was a child and she always had the sense of loss. No matter how old a woman is, she is always that little girl whom her father abandoned so many years ago. She is always the little girl who believed that her Daddy didn’t love her.
On The Oprah Winfrey Network, I watched a program where this woman was crying because she never heard her father say that he loved her. Her father explained that he grew up in a family that never expressed their love for one another so it wasn’t something that he could easily do with his own child. I was amazed at how years later, this woman still yearned for her father’s love and how much hearing him say it would validate her as a person.
I read this article about adult women and their fathers and what struck me was how easy it is for some women to pick out Father’s Day cards and how difficult it is for others.
Many adult women remember a childhood with a father who was caring and supportive, a man who shared their dreams, validated their successes and encouraged them to persevere following failures and setbacks. These women will have no difficulty picking out a Father’s Day card and signing it “with love.” Other women have unhappy memories of fathers who failed to provide love and support. Understandably, these daughters are ambivalent about thanking their unavailable fathers for what they did not give.
Around this time of year, these adult daughters often find themselves “forgetting” or even consciously ignoring Father’s Day. Most adult women fall between these two poles. They have some fond memories of dad, but they also recall disappointments and conflicts. These women may experience considerable ambivalence regarding how they will respond to the expectations generated by the holiday.
For me, it is hard trying to find a card that is suitable for my father. On the other hand, it’s really easy finding a card for my husband whom I believe is a great father to our son. It’s too bad that his daughters are missing out. They don’t keep in touch with him–not bothering to call him on his birthday or on Father’s Day. This hurts me because he is a good father. He continues to do his part where they are concerned, buying birthday and Christmas gifts every year. I feel sorry for his daughters because a father plays a crucial role in his daughter’s life.
As Sarah Simms Rosenthal, Therapist, Author, TheUnavailableFather.com points out, “fathers are important to women. Psychological research and clinical practice indicate that a good relationship with one’s father is crucial to the young woman’s development of high self-esteem, and to the maintenance of a confident attitude toward the challenges of life. One’s father provides a model for how to interact with the world at large, including the willingness to set high goals and compete hard to achieve them, and for the value of honesty and integrity. A father provides his daughter with a model for how men should act, in particular for how men should treat women. Therefore one’s father has a crucial role in shaping the choices an adult woman makes when it comes to the choice of a partner.”
There are some fathers who are protective of their daughters and want the men in their lives to be worthy of them. There are fathers who find it easier to relate to their sons than to their daughters. And then there are fathers who are physically there but emotionally there for their daughters. My husband lost his father when he was a child so he didn’t have the relationship with him that he is now able to have with his son. His daughters have the opportunity to have a relationship with him that other women are not able to because they never knew their fathers either because they died or they left. I wish these girls would do right by their father and reach out to him.
If your father is still alive, I encourage you to mend your relationship with him if it is strained and let him know how grateful you are that he is still in your life. Life is too short. Don’t let your differences keep you from enjoying a relationship with each other. I read some sad stories of women whose fathers were not loving, supportive or even kind. They ridiculed them and caused them to struggle with low esteem. One woman wished that her best friend’s parents would adopt her. If your father is still alive and you are still hurting over what he has done in the past, talk to him about it. Get these feelings off your chest.
Fathers, let your daughters know how much you love them. No matter how old they are, they still need to know that you appreciate them and are proud of them. For those of you who have healthy, loving relationships with your fathers, count your blessings. There are many women out there who would love to be in your shoes.