When I was a little girl my father would come home every night at six o’clock. I would wait patiently by the front door, nose pressed against the glass, trying to catch the first glimpse of his old brown LeBaron coming up the street. He would walk in the door all smiles and grab me in his arms to hug and kiss me hello. At dinner he would commend my accomplishments of the day, possibly a finger painting or some sort of holiday diorama. He’d tuck me into bed promptly at eight but not before reading a passage or two from one of my favorite books. I never felt unloved, never felt unimportant, never felt anything but safe and happy.
I thought all children felt this way for a very long time. It wasn’t until I was in sixth grade that I realized not every girl had a father like mine. I remember going over to a friend’s house for the first time after school one day. My mother let me stay for dinner and I was shocked that the family started eating without their Dad. In fact, my friends’ father didn’t come home until much later and we were already back to playing downstairs in the basement. I heard his heavy footsteps and deep voice through the floor. I stopped playing Nintendo, expecting my friend to spring to her feet at any moment to greet him. But she didn’t flinch.
“Don’t you want to go see your Dad?” I asked her.
“No.” She said quite firmly. “I hate him. He’s mean.”
Her words were so jarring I didn’t know what to make of them. How could she hate her Dad? I became so curious to meet the man of the house I made up the excuse of wanting some water. My friend walked me back up stairs where we found her Dad eating at the dinner table, buried behind a newspaper. She didn’t acknowledge him as she walked by. He didn’t acknowledge her either. On our way back from the kitchen, her Dad abruptly tossed his paper to the side.
“Did you clean that hamster cage yet like I told you to?” Her Dad asked without looking up from his meal.
“Yes.” My friend answered.
I stood there, behind my friend, just starring at her father. What was going on here? Why wasn’t he so happy to see her? Why wasn’t he asking about her day? Didn’t he want to know who I was? My mind raced with questions, but I didn’t dare ask any of them. Instead I took them home and thought on them some more. Was her father always late for dinner? Did he usually read the paper at the table? Did he ever hug my friend? Why did she say she hated him?
As my friend and I grew closer I learned more about her Dad and their relationship. He worked for an Insurance company, a job he hated, but he also coached girl’s basketball at the community center. He was a huge fan of the game and spent all of his free time on the court. And, of course, he enrolled his only daughter to play on the team. My friend was not athletic. Truthfully, she hated sports. She was into music and art. But her father wouldn’t hear of her quitting, in fact, if she complained too much he would ground her. So every weekend was filled with practice and games, which made my friend miserable.
Their relationship was not warm and loving. It was based on fear and resentment. Her father ruled with an iron fist, and his word was not to be challenged. He didn’t want to know his daughter, he just wanted her to fall in line.
The choices you make today…
You may be living the life of a single girl now, but one day your role will change. One day you will be a wife, and eventually a mother. The man you chose for a partner, will not only be your husband, but the father of your children. To think that far ahead is hard for some of us, but it’s a critical that we do so. You are not only choosing a man for yourself, you are choosing a man that will head your entire household. You cannot think only of the relationship you will have with him. You must also consider the relationship he could have with your son or daughter. So before you say yes to any man, you must ask yourself, “what kind of father will he be?”
My friend didn’t chose her Dad. She had no say in the relationship she was going to have with him. She was innocently born into this family and had no power to change the way she was raised. But her mother did have a choice. Her mother made the decision to marry him. Years ago, when they were merely dating, she ignored the fact that he could be cold at times. She disregarded his moody and abrasive personality. My friend’s mom was in love and wanted to get married. Even if he wasn’t exactly perfect, her mom thought she was strong enough to deal with her Dad’s long list of shortcomings.
But never did she think about how her daughter would handle them.
What are the repercussions?
Studies show that children, especially girls, are greatly effected by their relationship with their father. An active, involved Dad, one who provides a loving and supportive environment, will breed well adjusted, happy children. A detached, antagonistic Dad, can breed just the opposite. Children can grow up to be angry, distrusting, excessively insecure and wildly promiscuous.
Maybe you are dating someone right now that has a bad temper. Or maybe he flakes on you whenever you really need him. Maybe he’s too cocky to show his feelings. Or maybe he just makes you feel inadequate, unimportant and sad. Maybe you are actually considering marrying this man. Before you do, think about this: If he makes you, a grown woman feel this way, how do you think he will make your five-year-old feel?
Who you marry is your choice. Just remember that your kids will reap the benefits or suffer the consequences based on that decision. So Chose wisely.
If you are uncertain about the guy in your life, email me for a personal coaching session. Or check out You Lost Him at Hello and Was It Something I Said wherever books are sold. New! As of September 27, 2011 – You can follow me on Twitter @iamJessMcCann