Almost daily I hear and read things about the importance of men having fathers in their lives. Rarely do I hear about the importance of women having fathers in their life. Fathers are crucial for a woman’s development, same as men. Father’s set the standard for the men their daughters date. When a new man enters her life, she asks, “Is this man like my daddy?” We wonder if he will like the man we choose.
When it comes to our self-esteem, our father’s acceptance of our appearance and our personalities is something we crave. Although it may sound weird to some, I’m here to tell you it’s true.
I am my father’s only biological child. Growing up there was nothing anyone could tell me about my daddy. He was my world, and I was the true definition of a daddy’s girl. As I got older, the relationship would change, but not in the ways I expected. My parents decided to no longer be together and he eventually moved out.
My dad was what black women refer to as a BMW…Black Man Working. Add to that; he isn’t a bad looking guy, so it didn’t take long for him to begin dating again. Although I wanted my parents to be together, I also wasn’t bothered by my dad wanting to date again. Where I took issue is when he was dating the women always took priority over me.
Eventually, he would meet someone special. She was an attractive light skinned woman with long natural hair, who was once a model. At first she was cool and I really liked her, but then things changed. My dad decided to ask her to marry him. After becoming engaged they moved to a neighboring city. It was good for them, but for me it meant I no longer had the convenience of visiting my daddy whenever I pleased.
Shortly after, the dynamics of our relationship changed. Without warning, I went from being “daddy’s little girl” to the daughter he seemed to be embarrassed by. His fiancé was overly critical of my appearance. She complained about the way my hair looked and the clothes that I wore. At the time I was only 11 or 12 years old. It has been an awkward time in my life. I was playing tennis, and my mom decided to let my perm grow-out, and forced me to wear a short afro. My dad’s fiancé wanted me to be more like her. She hated that I wasn’t interested in make-up and fashion, or wanted the glitz and glam she craved to have. As time went on it seemed as if my father began to agree with the image his fiancé wanted for me. Although I never mentioned it to anyone, it really screwed me up mentally…It left me feeling like I wasn’t pretty or wanted.
They would eventually break-up, but the damage to the relationship with my dad was done. We would never get back to that special father daughter bond we used to have. During my senior year of high school, I would move in with my dad and stay with him though my freshman year of college. While I was there he was rarely home. I never faulted him, because he did work a lot. But he was also dating again.
The feelings of being unloved by my father resurfaced. I started to feel like he no longer wanted me around. It was as if I was cramping his style or something. After a disagreement I went to my mom’s house for a few days, only to learn that I was no longer welcomed back at my dad’s place. He will deny that he put me out, but in my heart that is what it felt like. This is when I started to internalize the hurt and resentment I harbored towards him.
I’ve always felt like I had no one to talk about my inner feelings. Mainly because I always felt as if my feelings were invalid. Like, maybe I am the problem. Maybe it’s all in my head and I’m just being a spoiled brat. But truth is, the hurt and emotional toll my father has brought into my life is far worse than what any man could ever do to me.
When talking to friends about my father they always say, “Well at least your father is in your life.” For some reason this offends me. In response I say, “I’d rather have an absent father than a father that is half there.” This seems to shut them up, quickly.
I will always love my dad, but as a teenager, when I needed him the most he was never there for me. I hated him for that. Secretly, I prayed that my mother would meet someone that could replace my father. I desperately wanted someone to show me the love I craved from my father.
As an adult I thought I had outgrown these feelings. I thought I didn’t need my father, and my life was amazing with or without him. I’m 25 now and for the first time I feel compelled to face my “daddy issues” head on. It’s time I unload this burden, if only for my own sanity.