Today’s article is for every father out there. Midlife - Let Me Go.
Do you remember our introduction to the relationship series? “Midlife Letting Go”
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In our article on “Midlife Letting Go,” we addressed it to parents generally. Today, we are talking about fathers and daughters.
Daddy’s little girl is not so little anymore, are you ready for that experience?
This is the desire of your daughter, dear father and special dad.
Many fathers have special connections and love for their daughters, the bond is seen in the way they cut the slack and shower love and gifts on her. The girl is treated specially and daddy becomes her hero. She speaks about her dad like Superman, saying “My dad can fix anything…my dad will handle it…my dad is the best in the world…” and she goes on and on. She develops a very unique excitement, passion and love for her dad and they both enjoy the beautiful rains of the relationship for years.
Dad becomes more protective as his daughter begins to transform before his eyes. He begins to imagine her needs or wants and goes ahead to get her anything so long as he can afford it. Dad also begins to expand the vision he had for his daughter; What should she become? Where should she go? How should she appear? Who can she be with? When will she be allowed to go to some places? And so on.
The first sign of a crack appears when she begins to express other ideas, starts to show signs of secrecy and new friendships seemingly eroding the time and attention for her “special” dad. A midlife encounter for the father has just begun, he is about to experience the beginning of some form or “ambiguous loss”.
His partner says things like “Your daughter will be travelling tomorrow for an event” and he asks “How come she did not tell me first?” His wife/partner recognises the relationship and emphasises the expression “your daughter” not as a noun, but a verb? So now, Dad is faced with the dilemma of activating his “father stance” and insisting on his way but faces the huge risk of loss of attention and affection from his dear, sweet, loving daughter who will be away from home in school and other occasions for longer periods very soon.
For many dads, they leave the unacceptable message to the spouse because they can't face the heartbreak. The daughter now defies her father’s new rule and sends a message saying “Daddy, you know I love you. You’re my hero and you’re my world and I will always love you but I’m not a baby anymore. You have to trust that I can make my own decisions and let me do things my way." "Dad, but really, if you don't understand, you will have to get used to this new me. I love you dad.”
Wow! This is the knife that cuts dad’s heart to a thousand pieces but the worst part is that he is not trained to dare voice out the pain of this ambiguous loss. Truly, the question he asks is “what have I just lost?” It is difficult for him to frame his experience, so what does he do next? - he goes silent. Why do men go silent and internalise?
Little by little, the relationship that seemed like it would last forever has begun to fade away and the man just remains silent. The daughter is happy, excited and everywhere, she is all over dad when she needs something and off again to do her things and she is clueless on what her father is going through. The mother deals with this matter very differently and insistently connects with the daughter, mum says things like “ you know I am your mother” - not Mum - MOTHER.
This is a new story and the daughter can not afford to fight this story with her dear MOTHER. She is not about to take on any emotional battles with her mum so she will just confirm like a good daughter. So, this further complicates the matter for the father, he can see the stronger engagement from the mother and daughter but he has refused to change his approach and is still sliding into less and less communication and a very silent and basic need-based relationship.
Dear dads, it is time to rethink your approach and your concerns. It is time to engage with your daughter and tell her how you feel, tell her about your feeling of loss that is totally new and ambiguous to you, that feeling of “she is my sweet daughter but it seems she is ready to fly and become someone else- Should I let her become?
Hmmm, does this seem close to your heart or is this about to happen to you? Get ready and become an evolving dad. See the curves and transitions of your daughter ahead and anticipate the impact on your emotionally, physically and financially. This message from your daughter is simply saying - Dad - Let me Go!!!.
So, for all great dads with daughters out there, let me say this to you. You are doing a wonderful job with your children, giving them the best life as much as you can afford and also making your daughter feel special and become a wonderful lady.
Bravo “Super” Dads.
It is however important to share your feelings with your partner and daughter and discuss your concerns and if you can't name the emotions you are experiencing - just tell them a story.
Are you experiencing a "let me go" situation with your daughter?
You can reach out to Oye Stir - The Midlife Coach. Let's talk.