Healthy Self-Care

A Father’s Influence

In reading my devotional this morning from InTouch Daily Devotions titled “A Father’s Influence”,  I was instantly flooded with emotions and memories and I knew immediately that those thoughts and memories would become this post.  I normally just share my underlined devos on Facebook, but this one needed special attention!

Daughters need their Dads.

As a Mom of 3 girls – now grown women – and also a woman that was raised without a Dad, I have a little bit of insight on how much a Dad {or lack of a “present” one} has an acute impact on daughters!

Most Dads have no idea how much of an impact they make on their daughters – not just in the early years, but especially long-term into adulthood!  A woman’s self-worth plays such an important role in choosing a boyfriend and then a husband, one who will eventually be their child’s Daddy!

Here is a little back story….

Being raised without a father in my life didn’t affect me at all…or so I thought!  Looking back, after much soul searching and some counseling, I know now that having a completely absent father formed my vision on what type of man I would date, who I chose to marry, and how I thought I should be treated as a woman.  It also left me emotionally crippled – not knowing how a man is supposed to treat a woman –  and with no male influence, I felt like a flailing fish out of water when it came to relationships with men.

After many “boyfriends” in high school (promiscuity is another trait of being fatherless), I chose who I believed to be the right one to marry – or more specifically, the one that would be a great husband and father.  I was married at 17 – 4 months pregnant.  He was 18.  Thankfully, he was a good husband and a great father…and then suddently, without warning, he had an “indiscretion” while away going to an Air Force training school.  I was crushed – my heart is still wounded to this day.  Then 5 years later, I did the same.

After almost 16 years of marriage, we were calling it quits.  It was mainly my decision – I just couldn’t get past the fact that he had cheated on me all those years ago…after 10 years of marriage and 3 little girls, I wasn’t good enough any more (there is that self-esteem issue that being fatherless can fuel).  We had been high school sweethearts, we had that pure and innocent love.  We were going to beat the odds of a teenage marriage.  What happened?

Our lives changed…our thoughts changed.  But I believe that our love never changed.  It just got sidetracked.  Sidetracked by work, sidetracked by his studying (he was getting a nursing degree via night school), sidetracked by his second job (to pay for that college degree), and sidetracked by our outside friendships.  All of those were players in our marital demise.

I made the decision to leave.  It was my choice.  In his eyes, I’m the “bad guy” – to this day, 26 years after our divorce.  Thankfully, my girls and I have the closest relationship that daughters can have with their Mom.  We have been a “package deal” since I left their Dad.  I have apologized to them for taking them away from him.  Now that they are married and moms, they understand better.

Was leaving him the wrong choice? Yep, it was a mistake.  He was a great guy…a good Dad…a good husband.  We just grew apart.  Do I regret that decision?  I can’t.  I wouldn’t have the 5 precious grandkids that I have now if that decision hadn’t been made.  I also wouldn’t be the strong, independent woman that I am now and my daughters wouldn’t have grown into the women they are today!  I’m so very proud of them – shameless props for my girls right there 🙂

Divorce Magazine is an awesome resource and has a great articles….here are a few snippets from one of their articles…


Without Shared Parenting, a Divorced Dad’s Relationship with his Daughter May Suffer

In a divorced family, there are many ways a father-daughter bond may suffer. Based on her research, Dr. Linda Nielsen found that only 10 to 15% of fathers get to enjoy the benefits of shared parenting after divorce. Nielsen posits that while most daughters are well adjusted several years after their parents’ divorce, many have damaged relationships with their fathers. Unfortunately, if the wound is severe, a girl can grow into adulthood with low self-esteem and trust issues.

What a girl needs is a loving, predictable father figure – whether married to her mother, single, or divorced. Joshua Coleman, Ph.D., a recognized expert on parenting, explains that one of the predictors of a father’s relationship with his children after divorce is the mother’s facilitation or obstruction of the relationship. It’s crucial that divorced dads attempt to forge positive relationships with their ex because it will benefit their daughter to see them communicating in a harmonious way.

Another snippet says…

Since a daughter may perceive limited contact with her divorced dad as a personal rejection, this can lead to lowered self-esteem and trouble trusting romantic partners during adolescence and adulthood. Be sure to spend time with your daughter on a regular basis and find activities to do together that you both enjoy. These might include hobbies, sports, exercise, and cooking.  Additionally, be sure to enlist her input and surprise her with outings that you can enjoy away from other family members.

Read the complete article here.


 

I say all of that to say this…daughters NEED their Dads!!!  Desperately!  Fathers, and the relationship they have with their daughter, is the MAIN deciding factor in how a woman learns to embrace their confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth!

Two of my daughters came through our divorce with less scars than their sister.  Even though they are all in their late 30s/40ish, the relationship they each have with their Dad is somewhat strained…but it is {thankfully} better now than when they were younger – only with the help of Jesus!  One daughter of mine is painfully in need of her Daddy.  The daddy she had when she was a little girl…because that little girl still lives inside her and craves the approval, validation, and unconditional love of her Dad.  That little girl hasn’t healed.  Without full reconciliation with her Dad, and all the important things that come along with that, my little girl’s emotions and heart will never heal.  For years I have prayed for all of them – and their Dad – that their relationships will be fully and finally restored!

There are limitless articles and studies online of  how desperately daughters need their father’s love, attention, acceptance, guidance, encouragement and more!

If you are the child/adult child of divorce –  there is help out there!  Please seek out a counselor if you need to!

If you are a divorced parent, here are some great guidelines to follow courtesy of Divorce Magazine

  1. Never disparage your former spouse in front of your children. Because children know they are “part mom” and “part dad,” the criticism can batter the child’s self-esteem.
  2. Do not use your children as messengers between you and your former spouse. The less the children feel a part of the battle between their parents, the better.
  3. Reassure your children that they are loved and that the divorce is not their fault. Many children assume that they are to blame for their parents’ hostility.
  4. Encourage your children to see your former spouse frequently. Do everything within your power to accommodate the visitation. (my note:  this is EXTREMELY important!!!!!)
  5. At every step during your divorce, remind yourself that your children’s interests-not yours -are paramount, and act accordingly. Lavish them with love at each opportunity.
  6. Your children may be tempted to act as your caretaker. Resist the temptation to let them. Let your peers, adult family members, and mental health professionals be your counselors and sounding board. Let your children be children.
  7. If you have a drinking or drug problem, get counseling right away. An impairment inhibits your ability to reassure your children and give them the attention they need at this difficult time.
  8. If you are the non-custodial parent, pay your child support. The loss of income facing many children after divorce puts them at a financial disadvantage that has a pervasive effect on the rest of their lives.
  9. If you are the custodial parent and you are not receiving child support, do not tell your children. It feeds into the child’s sense of abandonment and further erodes his or her stability.
  10. If at all possible, do not uproot your children. Stability in their residence and school life helps buffer children from the trauma of their parents’ divorce.

 

That’s it for now y’all…thanks for listening     Image result for heart clipart

Blessings ~

Heather

 

 

 

 

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