Although today’s blog talks about fathers and daughters the basic principle of how our relationship with our earthly father helps form our ideas and feelings about our relationship with our Heavenly Father are the same.
Besides being a hard man to live with the greatest lesson I learned from my father was that I couldn’t trust him. As is common among sons and daughters they want their parent’s approval and so I wanted my father to love me. But his love came with a price tag none of us could pay although he literally took it out of our hides.
Because of the physical, emotional and spiritual abuse I’d experienced as a child under my father’s hands he and I didn’t interact very much once I reached junior high school. Our conversations, when they occurred, were short, to the point and pretty much one-sided. My siblings and I had no privacy, journals kept meant journals read, if it was in his house he had every right to it, to take money we’d earned out of our purses or wallets, to turn our rooms upside down looking for “something” and even the least thing could be turned as evidence against you for crimes imagined in his head. I truly believe he enjoyed my feelings of worthlessness, despair and brokenness. He would often do or say something that make me feel even less worthy of life, “You’re such a cow, no wonder that boy broke up with you, I’m surprised he even dated you to start with.”
Yet the cruelest of his tactics was when he’d come to me and be kind, encouraging and supportive saying, “Tell me what’s wrong Faye and it will be just between you and me. We’ll fix it, I promise. You can trust me.”
It was a cruel hoax but I fell for it over and over and over again. Only to be ridiculed at the dinner table, the object of his jokes and sarcasm, and the fodder for his tales on his job. To say our relationship was rocky is the understatement of eternity. Even from his grave he managed a sucker punch as his “secret” life came boiling out once the gatekeeper for was gone.
Now I have a front row seat to the scene of my husband and our daughter’s relationship and I notice with hope and sometimes fear, how much his relationship with her is shaping who she is becoming. Just recently, after having comforted our daughter and assured her that my husband’s seeming indifference to her talking about a conversation between her friends and herself, wasn’t that he didn’t care if she had good friends or not, but just that he was tired from working a ten hour day and just wanted to have a bit of peace and quiet. Then I found myself explaining that his frustration and anger wasn’t because of something she’d done, but that something just hadn’t worked out the way he’d planned.
As a mother I want to shield my daughter from those moments when her father seemed callous in his response to her, because I know he loves her deeply and didn’t see the problem. As a wife I wanted to be supportive of my husband, acknowledge how physically demanding his job is of him and that he deserves to be able to come home and have some man cave time. Plus, understanding we females isn’t always as simple as 1-2-3. Both roles also require that I not be the communication between them, but that I be a catalyst for helping them develop better communication.
Between the three of us this is the “jumping off” list of how a father’s relationship with his daughter teaches them many things, and the list below isn’t meant to be complete, for we are just getting started!
- How to talk to men. (Or not talk to men.)
- What to expect from the man they marry, how they should be treated and how they should treat him. (Or what not to expect, that being mistreated in any way is okay and how they treat him with love and respect or as if he a doofus.)
- What love between a man and a woman looks like, what it should be like, sound like, how it functions day to day in real life when circumstances aren’t all moonlight and roses. (Or what love between man and woman shouldn’t look, shouldn’t be like, shouldn’t sound like or should be withheld if life isn’t all sunshine.)
- How being female doesn’t make her a second class citizen. (Or that it does.)
- Her relationship (all your children for that matter) with you will come to reflect her relationship with her Heavenly Father. If she feels she can never measure up to your expectations she’ll most likely feel the same about God. On the other hand, if she feels loved by you, encouraged to be her best, supported, understood and wanted so will she, most likely, by God.
I’m no therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist or any other mental health professional but I know, from life experience, how father’s and their daughters have a relationship that no other can ever replace. This mother/wife/daughter is determined to help my daughter and husband learn to talk to one another, even through these awkward, emotional, hormonal teenage years. One day, they will thank me, even if now they both have objections.
In fact, when I talked first to my husband and then to our daughter about their communicating both of them said about the same thing. From him, “I’m not into nail polish and make-up I can’t talk to her”! From her, “Aww…Mama, Daddy’s a man, he doesn’t know about nail polish and girl stuff”!
Both are right. But they discount things that are vitally important.
- They love each other and although nail polish and make-up and girl stuff have taken a new place in our daughter’s life they are not ALL she is about.
- Her father is not without feelings or the capability to understand that a female’s feelings are often multi-layered. (I know this because he’s married to ME!)
- Her concept and idea of God, her heavenly Father, is becoming much like her knowledge of her earthly father.
If you are raising a daughter and you want to honor God’s instructions for raising her to love and serve Him then think long and hard about what your relationship with your daughter is teaching her about her relationship with your Heavenly Father. It matters.
Praying to break a cycle,