Saturday, March 6, 2010

Daughters-Daddys Part 2

Yes the bond between daughters and their daddy’s is unique and special. Sadly, not every little girl has a daddy in their life; some little girls have their daddy but he may not be a positive influence in her upbringing. It’s a worldwide epidemic – the one parent household. It affects boys and girls but today we are focused on the girls.

What do you do if there isn’t a positive male role model for the little girl in your life? How do you fill the cosmic void that is left when daddy isn’t there… or isn’t able to handle his parental duties? Some men – as with women – just do not have the parental instinct, the desire or the ability to learn how to parent effectively. It is the children that suffer when met with this reality. Is there a solution, a remedy for the missing “daddy”?

While there is no one that can take the place of a loving, ever present daddy in a little girl’s life in some fashion it is important that they are exposed to positive, loving attention from a positive male role model. Single mothers must be intelligent, fussy, picky about whom that male will be; throwing them in to the arms of just anyone in order to bring the male perspective into the mix can be disastrous.
In our personal situation my own dad took on this very important role from the birth of my daughter. When her father walked away for good he took on more and more “responsibility” of being that surrogate. Sadly, even those we love dearly are not always going to maintain the status quo. As I mentioned before his life took a different turn and that left my little girl out in the cold again… twice “abandoned” by a supposedly “forever” prominent male figure in her life. I should have had a backup plan; I should have exposed her to more than one positive male. I certainly don’t mean that I should have thrown her to “wolves”… just anyone of the correct sex. I was at a disadvantage in that I am an only child with no uncles that lived even remotely close to our home.

So, there I was once again left to pick up the pieces of someone else’s mess that cut deeply into the heart of my precious little girl. Its gut wrenching to try and explain why once again why another man in her life has abandoned her. Having to discuss the reality of the fragile human condition with a six year old is cruel and unusual punishment, far too many single parents must be at the ready to do just that.
Be careful, very careful with whom you trust to help with all things connected to raising your little girl. Do you have a father, a brother, an uncle within your family that could bring positive experiences to your daughter’s life? Is there someone in your closest circle of friends, someone at your church that would be willing to spend time with her in a loving fashion? Consider it carefully, talk with them… they are not expected to become the household “daddy”. Explain what you need from them, set the boundaries from the get-go. You can’t begin to lean on them for parenting responsibilities but you can ask them if they would be willing to lend the male expertise in order to give your daughter the “male stuff” she needs in order to get the full scope and understanding of life, love and the development of relationships.

I would not expose her to a revolving door of men, or try and replace the daddy figure with a boyfriend that might only be a temporary figure in her life. Stability is the key, a strong, stable, positive relationship with a male who can give her a look into the positive male psyche. Even little girls see into the soul of those they meet. They may not at a young age be able to articulate what they gleam from those they meet, but they certainly have a better understanding of an individual’s character then we give them credit for.

There are wonderful organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters that offer help in this area as well. Don’t be afraid to seek them out for help. It is much better to turn to this type of reputable organization then to let your daughter “wing it”.

I know I wish I had the chance to do things differently with my own daughter.
In her teenage years it became very clear that her self-esteem and self-image were low. She either chose young men she could control, ones that were abusive to her, or older men that took advantage of her on every level. Her abandonment issues created so much pain within her and she truly didn’t understand that she deserved so much better than the young men she kept choosing in her relationships. As her mother I tried to teach her and she understood where I was coming from… but as she saw it… men come and go… and she couldn’t trust them to stay regardless of who she choose. Things went downhill from there folks… abusive men… drugs… pain… death.

God bless you in your search… God bless you in all areas of your life. Remember to always watch over your little princess…even when she becomes a "tween"/teenager (and seems unlovable at times) because she is a GIFT from God.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Daughters-Daddys Part 1

Little girls need their Moms - no argument there. They need the special something that only a woman’s touch can give to them (I touch on that next week). Just as importantly - they need their Daddy's just as much. Little girls grow up to be woman and those that grow up without a positive male role model often suffer on so many levels. There is so much that only a Daddy can teach them. Take note that I said a positive male role model, not just anyone who happens to be male.

My daughter’s birth father walked away from her at the tender age of three, just a few years after we divorced. Thankfully at that point in her life she still had constant contact with her Grampy which gave her in bits and pieces access to a positive, loving male figure. He doted over her, loved her gently and compassionately. But as life would have it his life turned in another direction and the time they spent together as she began to grow up became sporadic and then distant. I remember how her little heart would break when she asked “why doesn’t Grampy come around anymore”.

As a single mother I did my very best to be both mother and father to her. I worked diligently at teaching her "guy stuff" like how to play baseball and shoot a basketball, how to roller skate and build stuff. She loved to work with her hands as my dad taught her and I tried to follow through but I know I feel short of being a good male figure in her life. What I learned much later is that is wasn't the "guy stuff" I was teaching her that was the really important part. What she longed for was the emotional connection with a strong male figure. The real void was the “guy way”, you know the way that men think, feel and react to life. She missed out on that very special bond that grows between and daughter and her Daddy.

There is a special way a Daddy holds his little girls hand, the look he gives her that lets her know she is the most beautiful girl in the universe. Little girls pick up on those things. Girls need to see a positive male figure to understand how woman are suppose to be treated. They need to see woman in their lives being treated with respect, to witness them being loved and cherished by their partner. The key word here is witness. It’s one thing to be told how to be treated; however, actions speak volumes over mere words alone. How else are they going to really know what they should demand from relationships later in life? It is one thing to see a woman of strength moving through life and taking care of business. It is another to see that woman of strength being cherished for who she is by the partner that loves her.

Sadly, no matter how hard I tried to be both Mommy and Daddy, she suffered from lack of proper male role models. She needed to be shown by a man how very special she was and that she deserved to be treated like a princess. Not spoiled or totally dependent on a man that's not what I mean at all. She needed to see that she could be anyone she wanted to be and still find someone in her future that would treat her with kindness, respect and be her equal partner moving forward in her life. Daddies your little girls are going to grow up to be woman – daddies teach them how to love and what to expect in return. There is something mystical about the strength of a father in the eyes of his little girl. My Daddy passed a way over a year ago and at 47 I still think he was magical. How I miss him.

Daddy’s everywhere (or other wonderful positive male role models) you need to spend time with you daughters at every age. If you make the effort to be actively involved with them from birth everyone comes out a winner. If you are not careful you will miss there progression from toddler to woman – life happens so quickly. There is no shame in a grown man playing Barbie’s, tea party… or dancing with their little girls. Don't let the “tween” and teen years scare you into hibernation stay with them, be involved in their life. Take them for pizza or ice cream. A night with Dad could turn into a great conversation night and a time to show your growing little girl what you are made of - the grown up stuff. You helped to bring her into this world... don't let it end there. She needs to know she can count on you to be there...always. She wants to know you, even if you don’t think so – in secret she longs to be close to you and to know that you love her.

Dysfunctional relationships, low self esteem, poor self image are all big factors in young women turning to destructive behaviors, e.i. drugs, alcohol, early sexual activity. From the time they are small girls are bombarded by TV, magazines, and now the Internet showing them images of how women are suppose to look, dress and behave. Don't let the the media direct your daughter's thought process and base who she is on what the media tells her to be. Your direction here is very important... very important- do not underestimate your power as a source for your daughter's decision making process.

Help her to have a life filled with nurturing, functional relationships... show her, teach her that she deserves a future full of love and joy. Let her always be Daddy's little princess - a precious, unique gift from God!!!