Absent Father: A Daughter’s Natural Love
Often, I hear girls gather to their father. It wasn’t until I had my own daughter that I understood this. Maybe because as a child, my own father was not around to experience this concept. I watched in awe as I saw my daughter fascinated with her father or any male figure for that matter. She longed to be in the presence of a male.
This is not what I daydreamed of when the doctor said “it’s a girl” I immediately dreamt of me and my “mini me” going to lunch, having lengthy, bottomless, conversations, visiting the salon together; inseparable. Here is my daughter glazing into her father’s eyes, as if he carried her for nine months, experienced the waves of agony as the uterus expands to deliver life; her life. Not to mention, I’m still trying to lose the extra 15 pounds of baby weight.
The bond between a father and daughter is beautiful and amazing to watch. As I watched their interactions, it became clear her father is teaching his daughter how a man should treat her. Her father is fulfilling that natural yearning all little girls have; to be adored by their fathers.
One of the most interesting aspects of parenthood is that it makes the parent more self-aware. As I witnessed the relationship my daughter is building with her father, I couldn’t help but think of the relationship I had with my own father as a child.
As a child, it was not uncommon for the children in my school to come from single parent homes. In my mind, this was normal. As I think back to my teenage years, I recall longing to speak to a male figure daily. I had to hear a deep, male’s voice. I thought I was just boy crazy! In hindsight, I believe it was that desire to hear my father’s voice.
When I began dating, it was awkward for me. I did not know how to act around boys; I could not give a hug to the opposite sex without feeling bizarre. As I became an adult I made poor decisions regarding the male company I kept and was terrified of a relationship.
All these issues I believe, stem from not having a strong foundation with the first man in my life; my father. Yes, girls need their mothers. However, girls need their fathers as well. A girl learning how to develop a healthy relationship with the opposite sex is fundamental to her overall development and an important skill to learn.
Here are some tips to help the girls in your life grow in this area.
1. Recognize the Need for Her Father
It’s comical, I remember being in high school speaking with another classmate. We were discussing an article we read about a girl who expressed how tough it was not having a father. Me and my friends were laughing. We don’t have fathers in our life and we are just fine. We are not missing out on anything. How can you miss what you don’t have?
At that age, we had no idea what we needed. So, the first step is to recognize the need. Even if the child does not recognize the need immediately, they will at some point in life. Girls need to know they are loved by both parents. This helps aid in the child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. She needs to learn how to interact, how a boy is supposed to treat her on a date and in life. All these elements are important for her development. Ladies don’t lie to yourself by saying my daughter does not need her father.
2. Show your daughters how to be a lady
One of the best gifts a mother can give to a daughter is to teach her how to be a lady. Daughters look to their mothers for direction as to how a woman should act. Teach your daughter appropriate behavior around the opposite sex, how to properly resolve conflict, and how to respect others. Instill in your daughter they are the catch and not the hunter. Showing your daughters how to respect themselves, will in turn teach them how to require respect from the opposite sex. For example, implanting in your daughter that their male companion should not humiliate them in public; should respect their opinions, as well as boundaries. These valuable skills will instill self-esteem, self-respect and confidence in your daughter.
3. Show your daughters love
Love is one of the most powerful, basic, raw, human need. It is enormously important to give your daughters an abundance of love; especially our girls with absent fathers. Love is powerful, able to transform and break down many barriers. Showing your daughters love will enable her to feel protected, show her how to love others and contribute to her self-confidence. Practice telling your daughter daily “I love you”. Show your daughter you love her by freely giving out natural affection such as hugs and kisses. Teach your daughters what love looks like and what it does not look like. For example, love does not hit, love is not jealous, love does not have malicious intent.
4. Encourage your daughter to establish a relationship with her father if possible
Key word is if possible. There may be many reasons a father is absent. Absenteeism could be due to death, divorce, problems with substance abuse or incarceration. Never put your daughter in a situation where her physical or emotional welfare may be in danger. If for example the reason for the absence father is simply the parents split. Encourage the relationship however do not force it. Both parties must have an interest in cultivating the relationship. If not, it will fail.
For example, the relationship with my father and I was turbulent in my teenage and young adult years. I recall trying to build a relationship as a teenager with my father and feeling completely rejected. I experienced calling his home, leaving messages and waiting months for a return phone call. When I did receive a phone call, we would agree to spend time together. I recall some days waiting for him and he never showed. Rejection after rejection, I gave up trying and the relationship became null. For me, at that time the relationship was not possible.
5. Find a good male role model for your daughter
I have spoken with many women who had wonderful male role models in their lives. Positive male role models are beneficial to a young girl’s development. Look to see if you can encourage a male role model for your daughter. Some great places to look are her grandfathers, uncles, older siblings, stepfathers, a volunteer mentor, a trusted family friend, a trusted religious leader or member. The possibilities are endless. Here are some qualities you should look for in a possible male model for your daughter:
Someone who shares your values and understand the goal of the relationship
Someone who likes kids
Someone your daughter feels comfortable with
Someone who is trust worthy
Someone who has a desire or want to be the model for your daughter
I consider myself blessed that my children can build a relationship with their father. My daughter hopefully will not experience the pain of an absent father. A parent’s role is to ensure their children receive everything needed during childhood, so their children can become well rounded, productive citizens. This includes healthy relationships with both parents.
Written by: Rochella Neely,
an “open book”
I AM OVERWHELMED!!
One evening, after coming home from work, I said to myself “self, I can’t believe this is my life.” My 1-year-old is screaming a screeching, piercing, scream that just will not stop. My 6-year-old is crying because he is tired, hungry, and frustrated due to needing help with his homework. I try to cook dinner, while drowning out my daughter’s sleepy cry. My daughter is pulling at my leg; she wants to be held and rocked to sleep. I’m trying to cook dinner (without burning it) and my 6-year-old needs help with his homework. What to do! Do I cut the stove off and rock the baby to sleep; while listening to my son whine that he’s hungry and needs help with his homework? Or do I listen to the earsplitting while I prepare dinner? Suddenly, it’s as if I’m in the eyewall of a hurricane, my heart pounds faster and I feel as if I can’t breathe. At that moment, I realized I’m overwhelmed!
I am sure most parents can relate to these feelings. For me, after having my first child, I had no idea how challenging it would be. Family and friends told me prior to having my first child oh, motherhood is so beautiful, it’s wonderful, you are going to enjoy every moment. Lies.
No one tells new parents that many mothers can feel completely overwhelmed by motherhood. Some parents fall into postpartum depression due to hormonal changes and an unrealistic expectation of motherhood.
Conflicted emotions some mothers experience are: feelings of wanting her old life back, overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of motherhood, exhaustion with balancing work and family, guilt for having negative feelings, resentment for all the sacrifices, vs intense love, extreme protectiveness for the child, moments of happy bliss with the child, more meaningful family connection, and a sense of accomplishment as she watches the child grow.
What do we do when these situations and intense feelings arise? Let me let you in on a secret. No one really knows the answer because each situation is unique. There are some steps you can take to ensure you are the best whole person for you and your family.
Take a Deep Breath and Inhale
It’s important not to completely freak out when you feel overwhelmed. Have you ever experience someone do this? I have and it is unsettling. When the person who is supposed to be the leader freaks out, everyone else thinks it must be bad if the leader is freaking out! In your home, you are the leader. Your kids look to you for direction and guidance. So, when difficulty arises, take a deep breath and tackle each problem one step at a time.
In the scenario above, I chose to put the toddler in her crib and let her cry herself to sleep while I finished preparing dinner. I instructed my oldest to stop crying, complete his homework after dinner; which would be a better time for me to assist him with any questions he had.
Other parents may have chosen a different course of action. Some parents could not stand to hear the screaming while they prepare dinner. That’s okay! What is perfect for one family, may not work for another family. Each parent must decide what is best. How do I know what the best course is for my family? In the previous example, I used my gut. Don’t underestimate you gut. From my experience, it rarely lets you down.
There are many tools available to assist parents with making some tough decisions. I personally do a lot of research, I also speak with other parents who have has similar situations, communicate with your spouse regarding decisions, there are books, magazines, blogs etc. to assist with many topics of parenting. Use the tools available to you wisely. After making an informed decision implement it and see if it works. If adjustments are necessary along the way make them. Don’t be afraid if you don’t make the best decision the first time around. Trial and error will need to take place.
Ask for help when you need it
There is an old African proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child” A mother may have many responsibilities such as working 8-12 hours per day, cooking, cleaning, training, disciplining, engaging in regular exercise, and the list can go on.
If you need help, ask for it. Sometimes we as women think; “if I ask for help, then people may think I am not capable of handling my responsibilities”. Well every parent needs help at some point in parenthood. If you need a sitter to watch your children while you take care of some items, do not feel guilty. If you have a spouse or significant other delegate some responsibilities to them. If you need some “me time” ask for it.
Quality Time For Yourself Is Important
Taking out time for yourself is of the upmost importance. You will be surprised how many women have lost their sense of identity due to not caring for themselves. Some of them may be reading this post right now. I almost lost myself at one point. You may ask yourself how can I find the time when I have so much going on? Make it a priority. Put a reminder on your schedule, make the appointment with a friend that will hold you accountable to follow through. Please do yourself a great need and service by doing something for yourself at least once week. Some suggestions are:
- Treat yourself to a spa; get a massage, or facial
- Have a girl’s night out, to connect with friends
- My favorite: Sleep! Honestly, I am so sleep deprived it is a treat for me. Go to a hotel for a weekend and just sleep in. No kids, no significant other and just relax
- Treat yourself to a Mani and Pedi
- Get your hair professional styled. Honestly the massaging of the head, while getting your hair washed is heavenly to me.
- Take a vacation alone or with friends
- Read a book
- Do something that brings you inner peace or joy
Many women have feelings of being swamped with the day to day responsibilities of life. The key is how to handle these feelings when they arise. Remember to take a breath, listen to your inner voice, tackle each barrier one at a time, as this too shall pass.
Written by: Rochella Neely
an “open book”
Favorites? Advice On How Not to Show Favoritism With Your Children
When I learned I was having a second child, it was a shock. My second child was not planned and I had much planning to do before the baby’s arrival. One thought I recall having was how can I love my second child as much as I love the one I have? Surely my first born would be my favorite. I know it must sound silly, but as I thought about family members and friends; I could see who one or both parents favored. My thought turned into a worry. Can I love them both the same?
My second child turned out to be a bouncing baby girl. I have one boy and one girl. Two totally different children personality wise. In hindsight it was crazy of me to think I could not love the second as much as the first. I honestly love them both the same.
I recall watching a television show where the mother was terminally ill. The mother had several kids and after she passed, all her children thought they were her favorite. I made a goal that I would make both my children feel special. When I go I want them both to feel as they were my “favorite”. I’ll share some methods I have used that have worked in achieving this.
Learn To Appreciate the Differences in Your Children
After having two children, I noticed the differences in their personalities and development. It was as if I had to learn to parent all over again. What worked for one child may not work for the other child. Your children are going to be different. Mine seem like night and day in many aspects. I have learned to embrace their differences. It’s what makes them unique. I believe sometimes parents tend to favor the child who is easier to raise or more like themselves. For me the best way to appreciate he differences in my children is to connect and learn more about what makes them unique.
Spend time with them individually
After I had my second child, I made a point to spend time with my first just him and I. I was conscious that he may feel left out or jealous of his little sister. Once a month I arrange an outing with just him and I. Some activities we do are:
- Go out to eat to his favorite restaurant
- Go to the movies
- Go bowling (one of his favorite activities)
- Go out for Ice Cream
During this time we do activities he likes, we talk, we connect. I have found it is a great way to bond and build trust with each individual child.
Make Them Feel Special
When I buy something for one I buy for the other. I think that is rule number one for multiple children. Also make sure you buy the same number of items because the children will be counting!
Give them a prestigious title. I know it sounds silly for kids but it works for mine. For example, I didn’t want my son to feel left out when his sister came along. I told him he has a very important role he is the “Big Brother” I explained you have a responsibility to protect your sister, help with her, and teach her. The title of Big Brother and the important role he plays made the transition smooth.
Other titles he has is my “favorite son” don’t use this if you have more than one son. It works for me because I only have one son. I tell my daughter she is my “favorite daughter” also I only have one daughter.
I tell my son he is my first baby and his sister is my only baby number 2. Facts but it makes them feel special so I roll with it.
Spend Quality Time Together As a Family
Family time with the entire family should be encouraged. This gives the children and parents an opportunity to connect with each other in the family unit. The family unit is the child’s first introduction to a community. Spending quality time together as a family will give family members the opportunity to learn more about each individual’s characteristics, similarities, and embrace differences.
I make a point to tell both my children daily I love them. I accept and embrace their unique personalities and talents. I encourage them to do the same with the people in our family unit. These attempts have worked for me and my family. Both my children feel they are loved equally as they are and there are no “favorites” in our family.
Tell me do you have a favorite child? How do you ensure each of your children feel special and cherished?
Written by: Rochella Neely
An “open book”
I was 5 months pregnant, getting ready to have my ultrasound to reveal the sex of my first baby. The Ultrasound technician placed the cold, gel, on my belly. “Wow, your baby is really active, he or she is doing somersaults in there.” As the technician tried to move the monitor around my belly to get a good shot, I saw what looked like a penis on the screen.” No, it can’t be.” I thought to myself.
Finally, after what seemed like 15 minutes, a few seconds later she announced, it looks like you are having a baby boy. I was so disappointed. I really, really, wanted a baby girl. Since this was going to be my only child, (so I thought) I went home and cried a few tears. I recall my grandmother saying after I told her the news, “well, you have to accept what you got.”
She’s right I said, I should accept what I have. Then feelings of guilt settled in. There are many women who wish they could have a baby. I should be grateful and hope that I deliver a healthy, baby, boy.
I examined my feelings. Why did I want to have a girl so bad? After exploring my state of mind, the truth was, I was scared. I felt I will fail at raising a son. Young boys have so many distractions and enticements to lead them down the wrong path. They are more of a challenge to raise and I did not want to fail him. I did not believe I would have a close bond with my boy as I would have with a girl.
I had witnessed young boys, whom I knew were taught to follow a favorable path. Their parents tried hard to keep them on the right road but as the boys grew up they choose a rough, negative, road. I felt raising a boy would be more difficult. Unbeknownst to me, I had developed a undesirable image of young boys.
My baby boy was born. He was healthy and perfect. I loved him before I met him. As he grew, I was surprised at how closely we bonded. We have the kind of relationship where he feels comfortable telling me anything. I constantly reassure him that I love him no matter what.
To my surprise, he is a thoughtful, considerate, and understanding soul. I could not have asked for a better introduction to parenthood. He certainly changed me for the better. He is one of my best friends, my teacher, of course my student, and one of the biggest loves of my life.
I learned stereotypes and fears we all have them. In hindsight, it was senseless of me to think I would not have a close bond with my boy. He came from me and there is no closer bond then our heavenly father. We must open ourselves to “accept what we got”, enjoy our journey and live each moment with an open, unbiased heart.
Written by : Rochella Neely
“an open book”