Deborah is a writer, healer, and teacher. Her goal is to help people live their best lives every day by sharing her joy and love of life.
7 Things a Daughter Needs From Her Father
Losing My Dad
As I cried, he held me close. "I will never leave you," he promised.
Promises made in haste, in darkened bedrooms, to crying daughters, are often forgotten when harsh light begins another cruel day. He left and his three lonely children cried.
Our crying reflected the loss of the dream, not the loss of the reality of our life with him. The reality of life with daddy was quite different than the idealized image we created in our minds. Angry and abusive, short-tempered and untrusting; I worked hard to get him to like me, in spite of the pain, the rejection, and the anger.
I wanted a dad who loved me and who liked me. Instead, I was faced with a resentful man who gave away his youth and dreams to raise a family. He wore his disdain for us as a badge, proudly displaying all he had given up. His sacrifice excused his abuse. He felt beyond reproach, as he had eschewed a great life of fame and glory to work as a miner. All of his dreams, his hopes, and his ambition ended when I came along, and he never let me forget that.
And yet. We cried when he was gone. Gone was the dream for us, of a family. Gone was the idea of a doting father. Gone, the innocence preceding the demise and collapse of our home life. I remember consoling my brother on the school bus as we drove past a ball field where our dad coached little league. We couldn't afford little league, so my brother couldn't play ball. We stared out the window in disbelief as we watched our dad pitch the ball to so many unknown children. He played with kids, but not us. He played with the rich kids whose dads he worked with. We rode the bus in silence, my brother growing angry, then crying. I didn't have words to console him. So I wrapped my arms around him and held him close.
Slowly dad rebuilt his life, carefully leaving out the distasteful past. Conveniently remarried, he began life anew. Moved to a better city. Got a better house. Became an engineer. Married a better wife. Fathered better children. Finally, realized the dream. Hopefully, the taste of success is a bitter one.
And now, so many years later, I understand so much more. Having children of my own and realizing that the dream rarely matches reality. Each one of us, as a parent, does the best job we know how to do at the time, given the tools and experience we have.
After all this time, I realize that he wanted to live his best life, just as I want to live my best life. He didn't plan to abandon his first family, life unfolded. We don't ever want to be terrible parents, mostly we just do the best we know how to do.
Father's Leave an Eternal Mark on the Hearts of Their Children
Fathers, be good to your daughters. They will grow into women, who will marry men, just like you.
Fathers be good to your sons. They will grow into men, who will be fathers, just like you.
The impact of a father on a child's life is an eternal thing. We forever bear the images of our fathers on our hearts, for better or worse.
The impact of a father on the life of his children cannot be understated. Girls form their self-image in large part, based on how they are treated by their fathers. A dad can teach a young woman that she is valuable, regardless of her looks and abilities. A dad can impart confidence, certainty, and strength to his daughters.
A dad can also destroy a girl. His disdain, criticism, and disproval can mar a girl's self-esteem for her entire life. A girl whose dad never approves of her will spend her life trying to win the approval of men. She will try time and again to prove that she is good enough.
The problem is, that until someone teaches a woman that who she is is good enough, she will never find the acceptance and love that she craves. Until she learns that she is surrounded by love, she will never feel loved.
A strong, caring father will help his children grow into self-assured, successful adults who lead productive lives and who then teach their own children the same valuable lessons.
Read More From Wehavekids
A weak, controlling father will hold his children back, making them believe that they can never be good enough. No matter what job they have, what accolades they achieve, what successes they enjoy, the children of a weak father will forever wonder why they can't be good enough.
Fathers, you carry a burden of love. Show your children courage and fear. Show them how to be humble in their success and brave in spite of difficulty. Teach your children that their worth is not from what they wear or what they have or not even from what they do. Teach your children that they are valuable, beautiful, smart, and strong. Teach them that they are enough, exactly as they are.
Good Dad vs Bad Dad
Whether a man realizes it or not, fathers play an important role in the development of their children, and their daughters.
According to recent studies, well-fathered children are more emotionally intelligent and socially successful as adults. Being a good father doesn't only mean being there physically, but also providing emotional, intellectual, and social support. A good father validates his children and shows them their value, not only to him and the family but to society. A good father teaches his children to contribute to their family and community. He demonstrates leadership, responsibility, and accountability. He teaches his children that they may choose whatever path they like, but that they cannot choose the consequences for their actions. A good father considers the impact his actions make and he teaches his children to do the same.
A weak father criticizes and demeans his children, never making them feel like they can do things right. He belittles them, often in front of others, and he is distant, not only physically but, more importantly, emotionally. He never offers them his love or approval. His children constantly wonder why they aren't good enough. A weak father creates victims who never accept responsibility for their actions. He blames others for his failings and enables his children to avoid the consequences of their behavior. A weak father points out mistakes and weaknesses, while never encouraging or uplifting his family.
The following information was compiled by the Gottman Group and demonstrates tangible ways a man can be a good father to his children.
How to Be a Good Dad
|Healthy Dad||Harmful Dad|
Notice low-intensity emotions as well as high-intensity emotions
Only notices harmful or escalated emotions
Sees all ranges of emotion as an opportunity to teach or grow closer
Doesn't encourage healthy emotional expression. Sees negative emotions as a personal affront
Validate and empathize all emotions, regardless of associated behavior
Dismisses emotions, tries to eliminate any negative emotions
Helps child recognize and label emotions, without judging them as good or bad
Sees emotional exploration as dangerous, harmful or a waste of time
Allows a wide range of emotions, but sets limits on poor behavior or acting out, helps child problem solve for emotional problems
Disapproves of negative emotions, punitive punishment for emotion
Accepting What Is
Many women struggle throughout their lives, trying to fill a father-shaped hole in their heart. They enter into unhealthy relationships, subconsciously hoping to fill that hole.
Women take abuse and mistreatment, seeking the approval of a man in their life, who will love them as their father should.
Years ago, I listened to Dr. Laura Schlesinger on the radio every day. One day, she was speaking with a woman who was struggling in her life, because of her relationship with her father. The woman wished that her dad was a better grandparent because he was never present in the grandchildren's lives.
I listened intently to her story. My own father has never met any of my eight children. I could definitely relate to the woman's plight, and I was curious about how to get over my own feelings of abandonment and the sense of never being good enough.
Dr. Laura let the woman speak her peace, and then told her, "You need to accept the fact that you will never have a dad." I pulled my car over and began to cry. Deep sobs tore through me, as I listened to her words, and realized that my dad would never be able to be the father I wanted him to be. He would never fill that role in my life or my kids' lives. I wept for several minutes, as I realized that my unmet expectations were causing me pain.
In that moment I realized I had to give up the dream of having a dad who would love me, be proud of me, and be there to cheer me on. The reality of my situation is that my father is not able to be the kind of man I wanted him to be. I could accept him as my dad, as he was willing to be, or I could continue to suffer.
Expecting something other than what is only causes misery. We have a choice in life, to be miserable, or to release misery and find peace. In my case, when I accepted the reality of the situation, that I don't have the kind of dad I would prefer, I was able to let go of my misery.
Dr. Laura advised that timely caller to openly mourn the loss of that dream, and then to get on with her life. And that is what I chose to do. I cried a bit more over the loss of the ideal that I had created in my mind, and then I wiped my eyes and got on with my life.
Fathers, you are important. Your role in the lives of your children cannot be understated. Be kind to your daughters. Be equally kind to your sons. Tell them you love them. Tell them they matter. Let them know they are important and valuable. Hug them close and tell them they are perfect, just the way they are. Your children need you. They need to know that you value them, that you love them, and that you are there for them, no matter what.
Your job is to be strong, to be loving, and to be there, for your kids.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Deborah Demander
RunAbstract from USA on June 18, 2010:
Very compelling and so sad.
James A Watkins from Chicago on June 02, 2010:
This is a sad story. The writing is great though! I enjoyed your prose. Thank you.
Deborah Demander (author) from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on May 20, 2010:
Thanks Ioua, it's true, hopefully we can all learn from our past experiences. I have learned to share love, especially to my great kids.
loua from Elsewhere, visiting Earth ~ the segregated community planet on May 20, 2010:
Tough story, why are we put in these circumstances, one has to wonder what the purpose of these experiences are... We must one day learn from these errors of the past... If only the world of humanity would teach their children to love selflessly so this would no longer be an option in the life experience...
Feline Prophet on May 15, 2010:
Losing a father at any age and in any circumstance is very difficult. I can imagine how tough it must have been for you.
Matthew Frederick Blowers III from United States on May 14, 2010:
So many fathers become farthers, moving to a distant place, and leaving those who loved them behind. Some completely disappear changing the title of dad into sad, and mad and just a memory of what a child once had. Often the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, some sleeping around andthen divorce, so that their sins cause so much grief to their offspring. great hub, glad that my dad stuck it out, and I truly wish your dad had too...~~~MFB III
Deborah Demander (author) from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on May 14, 2010:
I'd like to thank you all for reading. I appreciate the thoughtfulness, kindness and warmth you share in your comments.
Holle Abee from Georgia on May 14, 2010:
My daughters had much the same experience, but then I got remarried, and my new husband became a wonderful father to my 3 little girls!
Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on May 14, 2010:
Thanks for writing your heart felt story. Sorry your father couldn't have been a better father growing up.
Debra Allen from West By God on May 14, 2010:
I liked the song and sorry for your lousy childhood. It is true what they say--that girls will marry their fathers and boys will marry their mothers. So teach them well (another song, Haha)
Micky Dee on May 14, 2010:
God bless Deborah! Thank you for your thoughts and your music. Thank you Ma'am!
lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on May 14, 2010:
One thing I've noticed in my sons-in-law is how much more involved younger men have become in child rearing, more than most men of my husband's age would ever contemplate, and certainly far,far more than my father's generation could consider close to appropriate male behaviour. This gives me hope for the future.
BevsPaper from Central Indiana on May 14, 2010:
It has been some 52 years since the day my Dad walked out on us, but I remember it vividly. Went through years of feeling that somehow it was my fault that he left. Years of bitterness that he was missing out on those little milestones of my life...first date, prom, etc.
We've had an on again off again sort of relationship over the years...mostly off. He is my biological father but was only my Daddy for about 6 years.
Went through years of not really allowing myself to be loved by a man or to truly trust a man...after all they LEAVE you.
I finally figured out that as much as it hurt for him to leave us...we were actually better off with his absence. There would have still been scars...just of a different kind and probably much worse.
Bless you for writing this heartfelt and honest Hub!
Katrina Pedersen from Austin on May 13, 2010:
Aunty I am sorry that "grandpa" was not a good dad to you guys. I love you so much and I thank you for being there for me the way you have!!!
Ken R. Abell on May 13, 2010:
Deborah - There are tears in my eyes as I write this. I don't know what to say--so sad, so honest writing. May you be blessed & encouraged for sharing your heart.
Karla Domanski from Cadillac, Michigan on May 13, 2010:
"Daddy" is so important to little girls and even more so to teenagers and young women. They shape so much of how a female views herself as well as present and future men in her life. Nice hub!
breakfastpop on May 13, 2010:
I know how difficult this must have been to write, but your honesty moves me beyond words. Honestly, I think it should be required reading for all men everywhere.
suny51 on May 13, 2010:
I am really feeling for you Deborah,but thats past,forget it.
Deborah Demander (author) from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on May 13, 2010:
Thanks De Greek, you made my day.
De Greek from UK on May 13, 2010:
How painful this is to read and yet so true. I am old enough to be excused for wanting to give you a fatherly hug full of love and tenderness over the internet