Monday, June 21, 2010
Papa Don't Preach
So yesterday, in case you didn't know, was Father's Day. We were hit with a barrage of public service announcements on how we should go up to our Dads and thank him, for whatever it is he has done for us, for the sake of love and for being well, our fathers. Following that, I found many a disgruntled woman who decided that they didn't have much to be thankful for when it came to their Dads. It got me thinking, when it comes to our relationships or future relationships with men, are we all ruled by the relationship we have with that first man in our lives? Are our fathers the fore-bearers of all our man-related problems? And after all these years of wisdom and soul searching, I wonder, isn't it time we give Daddy a break?
I might be talking outta my arse here if you've ever had a father who's abused or mistreated or has never met you, but as for us who have fathers who didn't do any of the above I'd like to advocate that if we at any time decided that our singledom or our misguided relationships stemmed from our father-daughter relationships and blame our Dads for it, it's time for us to stop pointing fingers and try at least give our Dads a chance.
Okay, so I'm lucky enough to be one of those rare people whose parents are still together which means I see my father often and he is by all necessary means, a good Dad. Still, I'd be lying if I said that my father-daughter relationship has been a great one. I am part of the millions of women who grow up not really being able to talk to their father and vice versa. He is of the that era of men who don't seem to think that building a communicative relationship with their children is of much importance.
I have also been angry at my father for most of my life, albeit if you ask me, I can't really say why other than perhaps, he is a difficult man to 'handle'. My father is also not one of those men who bend backwards to the whims and fancies of their beloved daughters. Though I am his only daughter, I have never felt like a Daddy's Girl. My father is strict and is not prone to showing or revealing his affections. I have never hugged my father nor has my father ever said that he loved or even liked me.
Still, after years of trying to understand my father and at the same time, trying to get him to understand me, I've decided that we should give each other a break. When you think about it, the relationship between a father and a daughter is one that contains the most levels of understanding to break through. A grown man and a little girl - there is virtually nothing that they have in common. Yet, they are expected to suddenly form this intense, unbreakable bond. Fathers don't have 9 months of pregnancy to form a bond from birth. They are virtually introduced to this baby one day and expected to look after this girl till she grows into a woman and all her life, he is expected to provide for her. Generally, men don't have nurturing instincts...what if they don't like the baby or the little girl that has suddenly come into their lives? What if they feel disconnected from them? What if they generally just don't really make friends with women? How do they cope with this one woman who suddenly expects them to provide the world? Somehow, we expect our fathers to love us despite all this, and they should but sometimes, I can't help but feel that we should cut them some slack.
There ARE things we can be thankful to our fathers for. Personally, I am glad my Dad never beat me (my Mom wielded the cane). I am also grateful to my Dad for passing me his love of books (if he had not stepped in when I was 14 and on a trashy romance novel binge and handed me instead The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, I think things might've turned out badly). The other thing I suspect I can be happy about is that all this time, my own father has cut ME some slack. As much as I'd like to think of myself as this golden child who grew up to be this fabulously perfect woman...I know I was and can be a nightmare. Who carried me between the ages of 2-4 when I refused to walk? Who gave me money when I sent begging letters after shopping binges in Paris? (ok, he didn't know about Paris and my begging strategy was to include subtly the line 'I don't feel like living anymore' for added effect- haha!) Who made me Milo every day when I used to be a bitch about the temperature? Ah yes, the list is long when it comes to the amount of slack he has had to cut me.
So in this post Father's Day post, whereby I didn't bother wishing my own Dad a Happy Father's Day (oh, because I had a fight with him like a month back and I'm trying to prove a point...hawhaw)(More slack cutting on his part there!) I am instead going to honour my father by cutting him the slack he deserves and imploring all my fellow single girls out there who blame their fathers for any number of reasons for their general failures (with men or otherwise) to try at least to start looking on the bright side and stop being angry with them. I know, I know, your father might have left you to fend for yourself, your father might have only said 2 words to you in the last 5 years, your father might not have liked your last boyfriend or your father might not have wanted to give you the crucial support you needed but for all our sakes, let it go. Even if it's just in your head, let it go.
If we don't start to mend (literally or mentally) this first relationship with the first man in our lives, what hope do we have of starting and building subsequent relationships with all the next men out there?