Tuesday, July 13, 2004

daddy's girl - an open letter to fathers of daughters

dear father,

i don't have the courage to give this to my dad, but maybe, just maybe, something i say will help your relationship with your daughter, or maybe even a daughter's relationship with you and her heavenly father.

please know that more than any other person on the planet your daughter wants to be noticed by you. for you to be proud of her, for you to be aware of her life.

so many are hurting and lost and usually it's because their daddy doesn't know they exist, or doesn't have the ability to connect with her.

please remember, you are the grown up. even if your daughter is 38 years old like me, you are the adult in this relationship. it is never your daughter's responsiblity to mend the wall that you've let fall. never. she may begin, but will be unable to move forward without your full participation.

just once i want my father to turn to me with a smile on his face and say 'i am so proud of you!' just once. i know he thinks i know that, but i don't. i really don't. because if he really felt that way, he'd tell me, right? please tell you daughter how you feel, and especially how you feel about her. we are never too old for a hug or a kind word. wrap her in your arms, or hold her face in your hands and bless her with eye contact, deep words and time.

time. for most of us it's in short supply. what and who we choose to spend our time with tells those around us what's important. it appears that the newspaper or baseball game mean more to you than we do. i know you work hard, you deserve a break, and honest, we'll be the first one's to give it to you, but first, can't you please recognize that we are here? that we matter?

you more than any other person on the planet will tell your daughter what to think of herself. who she will be as a woman will be determined mostly by you.

scary thoughts.

if you have a problem with viewing pornography or hold that super model up as the standard for all women she'll know it. she'll try to be it, or like me, totally give up and go the other way. even negative attention is attention for the starving.

i can look at the girls we work with and identify the families where distortion is taking place. i can. i can tell by the way the wife dresses, acts and interacts, and the daughter rebels, exposes and challenges that the father is struggling with his sexuality, struggling with pornography or has a distorted image of women. i know from personal experience.

eating disorders, self mutilation, risky sexual behavior - most of it is based in the father/daughter relationship. we watch the way you treat our mother's, the way you touch or don't touch them, the way you talk to them, the way you prioritize them. we watch and learn.

i know when you held us as infants you never realized how much power you would weild over us, but you do. you even have the power to tell us what god is like. our first interpretations of god stand or fall by your example. that's a big responsiblity. what are you telling me about god? is he too busy? is he too distant? is he only impressed by the outside appearance? is he fickle? does he only care about accomplishments? you are telling me about god by your actions.

anything worth doing is worth doing well. fathering above all else is worth doing well. start today. talk to her. tell her you dropped the ball.

can you imagine the healing that would take place if men across the country would begin to apologize for the way they've dehumanized women? brought their wives or daughters up in front of the church and confessed and committed to better. can you imagine the walls that would fall down?

you are a team, you and your family. it's you against the world. act like your daughter is on your team. spend time with her.

for many of you it might be too little too late. the pain may be greater than than a quick apology can fix. but a true commitment to becoming a father that shows her what god is truly like will take time, but it will be worth it. grace, love, patience, kindness, commitment. care about what's happening between her ears, more than what's happening on the outside.

it's about her heart. it's about your heart. when the two connect great things can happen. when they don't things get ugly, distorted and broken. wash her feet. she'll never forget it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this blog, I am a smoker, I use it to waste time and separate from my wife and indulge in my own mental stream of consciousness rather than engaging the world. I have a 3 month old beautiful girl and another beautiful girl, sasha bella, who passed away in June. I will remember your words, thanks.


bobbie said...

thank you jonathon, i am honored by your words.

it will change everything, really it will.

Anonymous said...

This blog makes me feel like my dad isnt the only one in the world who doesnt spend time with his daughter. As a result, I started cutting as a way to feel better. When my dad caught me doing it he just said "Do what you want I don't care about you anyway" After that I couldn't take anymore so I ran away, I didnt really go anywhere I just walked around my block till the next day. I think he is just trying to get over my mom dying even though that was a year ago but I think thats why he is so uncaring. Anyway, thanks for the blog it was really helpful!

Anonymous said...

You've posted some great words of wisdom. In return, I'd like to share a brand new song with you and visitors to your site.

I wrote this song as a heart-felt expression towards my nearly-two-year-old daughter, but, as a community-oriented clinical psychologist, I am using the song to wake father's up to the intrinsic reward that comes with not only accepting, but embracing the responsibilities, and joys of fatherhood.

The song is available as a free download via this link:

My Very Own Daddy's Girl
Words and music by Dr Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT © 2007

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous person that wrote: "This blog makes me feel like my dad isnt the only one in the world who doesn’t spend time with his daughter." I would like to respond...Your dad has lost his way. Nobody knows how long he will be lost, or if, and in what state he will return. I ask that you acknowledge this and keep tracking. Be prepared to help him in any way WHEN he returns (you'll know) but while waiting DON'T get lost yourself! Otherwise you will never again find each other again. When seeking something there has to be a constant the seeker or the target. The Lord NEVER waiver, that’s how so many find him when they are in need. You be the target, stationary and steadfast in your emotions and outlook on life. This is easy for no one! A great motto to life is Acknowledge and move on. You've got to keep it together.

For other girls and women who are lacking that appreciation from their Dad (There is only one Father) I would recommend this if they are around; ask them what they think of you. I say this because we (men) are not to keen to nudges, and implied things. If we know something (like our love for someone) we generally think that everyone knows it. The only way to get a man to tell you something is to ask directly and honestly without fear, but with respect. Men seek respect, women seek love. God Bless and I hope I was more helpful than hurtful. -JGStarr

Anonymous said...


Thank you for writing the letter I never had the nerve to write, not even for self-healing porpuses. I've started it a million times though.
We seem to be about the same age and I have such a long away to go and I don't think for now my Dad is very keen on joining me. We do get along but it has been awhile since I heard "you're really your Daddy's daughter". His only daughter. Makes me wonder where I've gone wrong... (I Know, I should know better than to blame myself.)
Well, I found your blog today and once again I'd like to thank you for your words of wisdom. They are encouraging! Hopeful too. I'll sure come back.

Jonathon, I'm so sorry for your loss...

JGSTarr, thanks for the tip.

Hope better days will come for all of us.


Holly Swift said...

Thank you for this heartfelt letter - these are words that need to be spoken in so many places.

Anonymous said...

I am a father and had lost touch with MY father. This is not something just for girls. It is also important about what you said about waiting for your dad to come back. I waited, he had an op on his back which gave me permission to visit for a long period where he could not escape and we knocked down walls and rebuilt our relationship.

I also have a daughter - she is the light of my eye and to hear/read the things you wrote was important to me. Something for me to remember long in the future.

I am also in recovery and struggling to keep my marriage together. Everything is open and on the table, but my wife is really struggling with the huge lie that I have made our marriage.

bobbie said...

i don't know if i have any words of wisdom for you - other than to just take it one day at a time and live out your recovery in front of your wife so that she can believe you.

truth is so precious and it takes time to restore that bank of trust we once had.

i am so glad that you and your father broke down those walls. thank you for leaving a comment here this morning. it reminds me again how important our relationships truly are, and how worth putting work into them is.

Anonymous said...

All of your words are so encouraging. My thoughts are with each of you. My situation is very different. I am a good Father and have always tried to be a part of my daughters life. In 2002, her Mother moved her from our hometown in N.C. to California. She continued to visit us holidays and summers but now that she is older (14) she no longer wants to come. I email, send cards, call and I do not receive any responses. Of course I don't get any help from her Mother and Step-Father as they enjoy seeing my pain in this. I was deployed to Iraq and often thought I could be killed and my daughter would never know or would she even care. Now I am stationed overseas. I continue to call and still she does not respond. I realize at this age sports and boyfriends/girlfriends are very important. But how can I get her to understand how important her Father is? How can I get her to realize how much she is missing - Even if its only for 2 weeks? How much I love her? How can I get her to understand I could go back to a war zone any day and not return? If I continue to ask her, then I just get on her nerves. Is there any organization or group or person out there that can lead me to some answers or direction of what I can do in this delicate situation?

Anonymous said...

To the young soldier. The truth. Tell her the truth. Tell her that today you may go to war and you may not come back, you are not perfect, but whatever mistakes you have made, you can not ammend unless you know them. You'd like to know her and her to know you just in case you do not return. And that, no matter what she decideds to do with this information, you love her beyond measure and will if need be, take this immeasurable love with you to the grave.
this may sound harsh, but if others are putting you down, or she's terribly hurt and invisions, as some young girls do, that you should know why and you should magically have all of the answers, she may be very bitter. The truth is all you can offer. That and your love for her.

Anonymous said...

I wish this was true. I give my daughter time, attention and affection. After a particularly hard argument after all was said and done, I washed my daughters feet. Later she just kicked me in the heart with those clean feet.

bobbie said...

i'm sorry for your pain. long times are sometimes necessary for healing big pain. keep loving her and she will see that your life story is far more important than the pain she is currently choosing.

Anonymous said...

Wow,thanks for your blog. My wife and I have been married for 23 years and separated for 10 weeks. I have 3 teenage daughters and have been guilty of not spending enough time with them and affirming their value over the years. God spoke plainly to me yesterday about writing letters to my daughters, as I recently blew a chance to help my daughter find a valued object she had lost (I was more focused on trying to spend time with my wife in the other room). I finished letters to each of them this AM and found your blog this afternoon. Thanks! Your words were another confirmation.

Anonymous said...

I grant you deep sincere thanks in understanding the movement a father should have as open to daughter. There is an appeal of energy that streams through both when you exist together and are assumeing that felt nourisment is there. I ran away from true realization ,that work towards university to grant great wills of wealth and someways get your first job ,was a need for your own will.But all they end up doing is fry themselves in the face of an ALCOHOLIC BOTTLE. Hiding what you never say to a daughter has infringed me with some negative reality that he may have never achieved what he wanted for his efforts. I tipped off his mountain and only fell in a ring of fire delivering self harm and run aways and almost delivered through suicide to God. Too many times suffered but God always had his stop sign up saying NOT YET. So I will not let my dad die without him knowing just what was unsaid and unseen in the beauty existing in I as a daughter . I will truly say I am sorry you could not say I love you and you are doing the best you can do. I love you the way you are.