Elyce Wakerman’s father died when she was three. Her loss propelled her to study the plight of young women who had grown up without a dad in their lives. In her book Father Loss, Wakerman surveyed over 700 women who had lost their fathers by either death or divorce during childhood. Wakerman was eager to find out exactly what a father contributes to his daughter’s well being.
In her preliminary research, she asked Holly Barrett, Ph.D., specifically, What do fathers contribute to a daughter’s well-being? This was Barrett’s response: “Perhaps a father’s best gift could be an underpinning of support that would allow his daughter to dare, a confidence in both her femininity and in her ability to achieve that enables her to acknowledge and develop the many aspects of herself.”
Wakerman’s findings prompted me to seek the counsel of daughters who are processing their fathers’ contribution to their lives. I recently met with a group of five collegian women to discuss their relationships with their fathers. Though each of the five young women came from homes where their fathers were physically present during childhood, their comments revealed that they would like to take the relationships with their dads to a deeper level.
At one point, I asked them what they would like to know from their fathers. They came up with a series of questions which, they admitted, they could never actually bring up with their dads, but which reveal that they are eager to connect with their dads in a deep and profound way.
Here are their top ten questions:
- Dad, why don’t you want to talk to me?
- Why do you watch so much TV?
- What do you want in your relationship with mom in the next twenty years?
- How did you fall in love and how where you attracted to Mom?
- Why didn’t you teach me about your faith?
- Are you hiding anything?
- Why do you always have to be right?
- What can you tell me about having a good relationship with a guy?
- How deeply do men struggle with sexuality and pornography?
- Why do guys have selective hearing?
Dad, have you ever had discussions about these issues with your daughter?
- Choose three of the questions from above and ask your wife if she ever discussed them with her father. If you have a daughter, choose one or two to talk about with her.
- As a journaling exercise, write your response to one of the questions and put it in safe keeping for your daughter or future daughter-in-law.