This track on the Heart Depot site is devoted primarily to subjects involving the Father-Son relationship: the struggles, the triumphs, the pain, and the often unresolved of conflict between boys and their dads. But I would be remiss if I did not touch on the relationship between father and daughter. In fact, my whole experience as a father is with my girls; I was never father to a boy.
I have made more than my share of mistakes with my daughters; I have marked them in ways I am proud of, and in ways I am not.
Just a couple of days ago I was driving in the car with my youngest daughter (who is 28 now). She was commenting about the fact that our relationship has improved so much over the last several years; and of that I am most grateful. No father wants to dwell on the damage he has done to his family, least of all me. But I have been made to face it, deal with it, and bear guilt for the scars I helped produce. It is never easy.
But as we talked, she said to me: “Dad, you know, almost all of my closest girlfriends have a block, a distance in their relationship with their fathers, an inability to share freely and personally.”
“And,” she said, “it is not their fault.”
“They have to walk on egg shells,” she said. They say things like, “I’d never talk to my Dad about that!”
You have to “keep Dad laughing” or entertained, because you “fear his anger,” she explained. For many girls their father is as volatile as nitroglycerin, as unpredictable as the path of a tornado. In truth, it sounds a great deal like the way a boy often feels about his father.
Something happens all too often between girls and their fathers, something from the crib to the wedding procession; it stifles intimacy, and sets a young woman on a disastrous course in her relationships with males. You don’t have to teach her to avoid true intimacy with a man; she learns it on her own from the cradle.
If you are a father and you recognize this impasse with your daughter, or you see indications that she has a level of discomfort with you, please take note. Often it shows itself in her refusal to put herself in a situation where it’s just the two of you alone. Or you will see her nervously fidgeting when in conversation with you. It may exhibit itself in a number of other behaviors, too.
These are red flags, flashing danger signals, and you must take note and formulate reparations immediately.
Reparations? Yes! Most definitely!
One of the most beautiful things about human beings is that it is seldom if ever too late to make changes, personally, and in a family. Relationships can be repaired. Emotional tears in the fabric of your father-daughter connection can indeed be mended.
Other than my wife, no one is more precious to me than my daughters. I brought them into this world. And the thought that I may have damaged them, weakened their chance for happiness and fulfillment, handicapped them in their ability to relate with men – this brings me to my knees.
But that is not enough! I must seek out ways to make reparation. I must learn how to heal the broken places in their hearts.
It’s not about being perfect. For none of us is! It is sometimes about a facing the ugly truth and taking ownership.
Then . . . steps of reparation. Steps that one day lead – to a joyous reunion.