If I’m not Daddy’s little girl, whose little girl am I?

To love and to be loved are two of the most basic human needs. They are the root of our existence, our happiness and dictate every single part of our lives. From our very beginnings, from our very first breath, our capacity to love and be loved is shaped and formed and plays a big determination in the persons we become. I am a firm believer that children are to be protected and loved, and not just loved but loved unconditionally and infinitely. In this day and age the family unit has shifted and changed in so many ways. One big way is the absence of the father from the home and sometimes from their child’s life completely. Sometimes because the relationship doesn’t work out, sometimes because the father has other priorities which he may ignorantly and selfishly places before his child, and sometimes because the man just does not want to or is incapable of being a father. From our infancy we as humans want to be wanted. Rejection in any form at any age can be painstaking.

Too often I’ve heard people throw this statement around; “Oh she has daddy problems.” I honestly hate hearing this statement made about women. To me it makes the assumption that there is no correction for flawed experiences or flawed interpretations of love for those women who have negative experiences with their fathers. It presumes these women are somehow scared for life and doomed to date all the wrong men or scare away all the right ones. This is untrue. It is incredibly untrue. It is true that we as humans, as most animals learn from what we see, from the examples that are given to us. First and foremost those examples come from our parents, and the love we receive from them. As women, the first man we are loved by is indeed our fathers, and instinctively, good or bad we love them back.. We idealize them. We want them to be our protectors, our rescuers, our heroes, and our providers. Some say that the love that a father gives his daughter (and the daughter’s mother) throughout her childhood, adolescence, and adulthood sets the standard for what type of love she will expect and know that she deserves from a man. I believe this to be true. Although I am not making the statement that a negative type of love could not do the reverse and create positive expectations. It is, I suppose, a roll of the dice.

What I want every woman or girl who has grown without a father figure for whatever reason to know first and foremost is it is not your fault. If your father neglected you, deprived you of love, took you for granted – it is not your fault. You are not defective and you deserved better. Why is it that this day in age men can create a child and then neglect the child? Tupac sang it best “You know what makes me unhappy? ‘What’s that?’ When brothas make babies and leave a mother to be a pappy.” There is something infectiously wrong with the morals of today’s culture. What Tupac sings of has somehow become the norm; men shrugging off the greatest responsibilities given to them by God. If you are the little girl of such a father, then darling, you don’t have daddy problems, your daddy has the problem, and he is the defective one. There is something disturbingly wrong about a man who can bring life into this world, life with half of their DNA running through it, an extension of themselves, and not love it and care for it. It is a shame that so many children have to be the victims of such defective persons.

Some little girls grow up searching for men like their fathers, whether their fathers are good or bad. Some unconsciously search for or end up with men like their father even if they try to avoid such men. I believe this is simply because for some, it is the only type of love they have experienced or known. It’s familiar, and even though it may hurt, it feels right because we as humans by nature go back to the familiar, even if the familiar is dysfunctional. When chaos or dysfunction is your norm, you become more immune to it over time in the sense that it becomes more difficult for you to recognize it as dysfunction. Some recognize the dysfunction but cannot escape it or make the same habitual mistakes of dating all the wrong men despite the warning signs. Others become comfortable in it. Some women try to correct their father’s mistakes and the pain it caused within them by dating the wrong men and trying with all of their might to change them. This may stem from that unconscious need for love from a man who chronically neglected to provide them with the type of love they so desperately yearned for as a child. They may be trying to correct that error within themselves.

If I’m not daddy’s little girl, then whose little girl am I? How can mothers answer that question for their daughters? Being that I am a firm believer in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the first answer to that question is “you are God’s little girl.” There is a little girl at my church who requested to be baptized. She told her dad, “I have three fathers dad.” To which he replied, “List them in order of your favorite, and she said, “God, Jesus, and then you dad.” This brought tears to my eyes, she was right, she does indeed have three fathers, we all do. When you are certain of the love the Lord has for you and oceanic that love is, how perfect you are in the eyes of God, it becomes more clear the type of love you deserve from a man, because God is the greatest. The most important gift you can give your daughters is the gift of God, the gift of faith. I offer this as one way to fill that absence or that void created by an absent father. I love the saying “keep your heart so close to God, that a man has to seek Him to find it.” Sometimes we have to go back to the basics. I always say that I want to be with a man who seeks to emulate God’s love for me.

So maybe some of you are not so religious, I wont force my beliefs on anyone. It is also important for mothers to love their daughters immensely. God bless the women out there being both mother and father to their children. Build their self-esteem, and build their self worth. Talk to them. Communicate with them about their feelings, about what love is supposed to be like or feel like. Try your best to be an example for them in future relationships. Help them find fulfilling things in life, and help them build healthy relationships around them. People say it takes a village to raise a family. Although there is not actual replacement for the biological father, these healthy loving relationships whether with uncles or aunts etc, will help build confidence and self-esteem and security.

It’s a difficult task, I assume, as a mother to watch your child be hurt by their father’s disappearing acts, lack of involvement in their life, neglect of them but being a loving father for children in his next relationship etc. Sometimes it’s easy to curse the man, and do it in front of the child. One thing I admire is the single mom who never seeks to corrupt her child’s mind regarding his or her father, but allows the child to develop their own interpretation and make their own decision about whether or not they want their fathers to have part in their lives or not. That as a mother is a very selfless thing to do. However, how does a woman protect her child from a father’s injury to the child’s heart? For example the father who builds up the child’s hopes just to let them down, makes empty promises, or does disappearing acts? What responsibility does the mother have in drawing the line on this what I would call form of abuse? This is a tough decision to make, but if it is hurting the child more than helping them, I support drawing the line and setting clear limits and boundaries. If a father cannot be consistent in a child’s life, limit his presence to major life events, and decrease frequency of visitation from weekly to monthly or every other month. Hopefully this will lessen the disappointments and unfulfilled expectations for time with dad. It’s most important to be sure that your child knows they are loved, no matter what.

Some people think they are ready to be fathers, and in reality do not have the emotional capability to do so. We love our parents no matter what. Even children who are abused love their parents. It is reported that abused children sometimes feel an allegiance to the abusive parent and protect the parent when the abuse is uncovered. One of my favorite quotes (I get all my good quotes from the TV show Criminals Minds) is “Children were born by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes, they forgive them.” It is okay as a woman to forgive your absent father, and if he is still causing your heartache, it’s equally okay to not give him that power by not allowing him to be a part of your life. I’m a strong believer that happiness stems from within and from our surrounding and I’m a firm believer in loving from a distance. In my opinion the key to happiness, is surrounding yourself with love.

All of us want to be loved, some of are hungry for it, some are starving for it, and this also may affect our choices in men. Hunger alone can make us irrational. What happens when we are really hungry and having intense cravings and we binge? We regret it, we feel gross. The desire is fulfilled, but at what cost? If you are a girl who never had that experience of being “daddy’s little girl,” you are God’s little girl. It is so important that you know that, and it is so important that you love yourself first before you try to find love in someone else. None of us are perfect. All we can do is be self-aware. To recognize the root of our cravings and desires, and reconcile whatever voids exist within us and work to heal them in healthy ways. For some this may mean reconciliation with their fathers, forgiving their fathers, removing their fathers from their lives, therapy, and other avenues for expression of feelings. If you are not ruined or spoiled, there is a man out there who will love you the way you deserve to be loved.