Fathers and Daughters

Growing up in the 60’s in South Africa, it was common for parents to preach that “children should be seen but not heard.” Fathers, on the other hand, were heard but seldom seen by their children. This was an era in which fathers were the bread winners and mothers stayed at home. But we knew that if we were too unruly, a punishment would be meted out by father when he got home. Fathers often spent weekends on the golf course and rarely attended parent teacher interviews. They knew that dinner was going to be on the table by 6 o’clock but had no clue what was planned or how to cook it. They often left the house before their children woke in the morning and sometimes didn’t return home until they were in bed at night. As children, we weren’t resentful or angry about this. It was the norm. My primary relationship was with my mom and this continued into adulthood. When I called home and he answered the phone, I’d say “Hi dad. How you doing?” And then shortly after, “can I speak to mom?”

Fast forward a half century to the modern day dad. For the past twenty plus years, my husband, Joey (like many of his peers) has been super involved in our children’s lives. He wouldn’t have missed their births for the world, has always organized his work schedule around their school plays, parent teacher interviews, birthdays and dance recitals. He took our girls grocery shopping with him when they were very little and continued to be the chief food shopper even after they decided it wasn’t cool to be seen with their dad. He’s the one who plans the weekly meals and loves to prepare them whenever he can (he’s a much better cook than me). He’s involved in driving to and from activities, knows all of our daughters’ friends and as much about their likes and dislikes as I do.

Yet, despite all of a dad’s dedication, devotion and demonstrations of love, daughters get to an age where they pull away – often emotionally, but certainly physically as they no longer feel comfortable hugging their father or sitting too close. This typically makes logical sense to a dad who understands that as his daughter’s body changes, so too might their relationship. Still, he misses the time when she snuggled close, wrapped her arms around his neck as he carried her sleeping from the car into the house or wrote “I love you. You’re the best dad in the whole world” on his Father’s Day card.

This Father’s Day, from one daughter to another, I encourage you – and your daughters, if you have daughters – to find a way to show dad what he means to you and how much you appreciate things that he has done or said over the years.

I’m glad I have been doing so for my dad in recent years, especially since my mom passed away and I have gotten to know him better.

Take out a photo album and reminisce about the times you spent together. Allow him to hold your hand in his as he remembers how tiny it used to look when you were very young and thought that he could do no wrong.