The subject of father/daughter relationships often gets relayed in the context of trite, melodramatic struggle and her rebellion. Likewise, we also bear witness to the collateral damage of an absentee father in the form of piss-poor decision making as an adult. But we very seldom get to examine it from the father’s POV. We don’t give credence to the emotional angst and fear a man goes through when the doctor doesn’t see that extra appendage on the ultrasound. That moment of clarity is so real.
Fathers have a cake-walk raising sons. We know how to instruct them on the mores of manliness. We’re deliberate in maintaining the balance between discipline and devotion. We know our sons because we were our sons. But with daughters, the relentless uncertainty increases as the years go by. Then one day, our eyes gaze upon a flower that now has its own instincts for growth and survival. What do you do when your daughter no longer needs your permission but craves your unconditional support?
As the only girl and the youngest in the uber-talented Smith clan, 10 year old Willow is a refreshing anomaly. Her parents allow and encourage her to be who she is. With girls, it’s easy for parents to be calculated in telling them what they can and cannot do. Representative of the deteriorating family schematic, women are teaching little girls to be contrarily independent; yet simultaneously teaching them to follow the model of what a woman is supposed to do/be through unrelatable media images.
My greatest fear in raising a daughter is that I’ll lack the objectivity to support her lifestyle choices. Every parent wants their child to have better and do better than he/she did. For example, I’m a grounded, respectable guy but I still want my daughter to find someone that’s a little better than me. Will she date a couple bad boys? Of course. Will she belly-flop into the love swamp with a guy that breaks her heart? They always do. But it scares me to fathom her cleaving from the foundation I build in her life. I hope that she’ll never forget that she is worthy of a helpmate that will be exactly that; a HELP mate.
While people were criticizing Will and Jada for allowing Willow to cut her hair and blasting her latest music video, Will said something that helped put my general fear into perspective “When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world.”
A father’s love for his daughter will always be where her first mirror image is developed. I watch my brother with my niece and see how he’s so afraid to let her explore and find out what her own limits are. When she’s with me, I encourage her to be independent and do things on her own. Granted, she’s only 15 months old. But babies are far smarter than we as adults give them credit for. I only hope that I’ll be this lax and fearless with my own daughter one day.