Monday, December 27, 2010

Daughters Need Their Fathers

GIRL IN NEED IN BALTIMORE wrote in to Dear Abby:

I have a big problem. My father refuses to spend time with me. He is a firefighter and says he has a busy schedule. I understand that. But when he has extra time, he will find anything else to do. I tried talking to him -- it was like talking to a brick wall.
She's right. This is a problem. A girl's relationship with her father is very important. We aren't told her age. She doesn't indicate the relationship was ever different. But if it was, and if she's entered puberty, it could be her father not knowing how to handle that. I was reading recently that some fathers will stop hugging their daughters or start to avoid them when puberty hits, because the fathers are uncomfortable with the fact that their daughter is starting to look and feel like a the very kind of thing that turns a man on – a grown woman. Throw in that there are some corners of society where every grown man, and especially a father, is considered a possible predator of girls, and you have a recipe for distance.

On the other hand, the guy could be an all-around self-centered jerk.

My mom has comforted me a lot, but I feel there is something missing in my life.
Your mom needs to step up. First of all, if she did marry a self-centered jerk, she needs to admit it and apologize to you, and find you some strong, positive male role models, like a coach. If this is a matter of discomfort with his girl growing up, she needs to ask herself if she has contributed to that. Has the husband/father been made aware of some father-daughter problem in mom's family, and he is overcompensating for that by trying to avoid contact? If this is a matter of dad being uncomfortable, mom needs to tell him how badly his daughter needs his attention, and how it is okay to hug his daughter and spend time with her and how to actively listen in a way his daughter will know he's listening.

What you could also have here is a guy who didn't want a daughter. Or maybe he didn't want kids at all. It is possible the mother knew that before she ever got pregnant.

I wanted kids, including a daughter. Still, I wonder sometimes if I shouldn't have remained childless and perhaps even unmarried, because so much of what I like to do is solitary. I like reading, I like writing, I like watching movies and television that might not be good for minors to watch. But I know my kids need me. So some things I like to do have to be put on hold or missed entirely beause I need to be there for them. And even though I do recognize this, I still feel like I'm falling short.

Just the other day, I got back in touch with a friend of mine I wrote about in this previous entry. He's still with his girlfriend. He told me that his daughter "understands" that he sent more cash for Christmas presents rather than visiting her in person. I'm sure he daughter would rather see him. She probably also "understands" that the girlfriend was a recipient of his Christmas generosity, So really, he could have visited his daughter if he wasn't spending money he barely haves on a woman young enough to be his daughter.

I haven't seen him since he returned to town. It isn't going to be very comfortable if my wife and I bump into him, especially if his girlfriend is with him.

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