The top definition, in Urban Dictionary, for the term girl dad, is a father who wants his daughter(s), to have the same rights, opportunities and privileges as any boy.
It goes on to say that a girl dad wants his daughter to carry on his legacy. This statement is one I don’t agree with. First off is because this makes it about his wants and not necessarily about what his daughter wants. Secondly, he can be a great dad but a shitty friend, possessive lover, narcissistic boss and a bully to his siblings. Many parts of his personality may be less than appealing. Playing the role of a dad is just one bit of the roles he plays in life, and it could be the only role he really is good at.
So why should his daughter be obligated to take on such a legacy?
Before making the decision to put together this piece, I doubted it was necessary to say anything at all about fathers for Fathers’ Day. I mean, the dads who have contributed to the series have done an exemplary job. Then I had a moment of panic coupled with self-doubt on if writing about it was a good idea. Decided to go with why-the-heck-not and here we are! In battling my indecision, I interrogated why it was necessary to run the Father’s Day series. Several reasons crossed my mind, and I will only share the ones that really pressed upon me.
Reason One: In my humble opinion, girls have a special relationship with their fathers. Even the absentee fathers. Did I check in with a psychologist for their expert opinion? You bet I didn’t! These here are personal observations. A father is the first real relationship a girl has with the opposite sex. Stating the obvious, they are biologically different so right off the bat their genetic predispositions grant them different advantages. He, as a father, has to earn her trust and she has to create a space to allow for a relationship to flourish. She will invite him to a make-believe tea party (space), he has to show up (trust). She will ask him to join her on the couch to watch TV (space), he will oblige despite the lack of interest in her shows (trust). She will share with him all the fascinating things that have happened in her world that day (space), he will listen in amusement (trust). There are a number of ways that she will allow for interaction. If he’s keen, he will not miss out on these opportunities. Their relationship cannot be rushed. Not all interactions have happy endings, and sometimes those encounters leave the daughters with emotional scars. Could this be where the term daddy issues stem from? I’m no professional, take my opinion with a pinch of salt.
Reason Two: Fathers provide a different perspective to dealing with what life throws at you. As human beings, we are the sum of our experiences both through nature and nurture. Right after birth, our initial circle of socialization is with our primary caregivers. Biological parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, guardians, the state…basically whoever had the first right of refusal. Just kidding! These people in whose care we are entrusted have in them their own life experiences that shape their beliefs, affect their personalities and dictate their value systems. When your daughter is born, so is the birth of your girl dad status. Don’t think it matters how many other daughters you had prior to this; each birth signifies the birth of your girl dad status. In that moment, your instinct could be to protect her, or run away, and possibly feel intimidated. It could be overwhelming sadness at the thought of the battles she will have to fight, or you could ball up your fists in anger over the imaginary relationship she is going to have years down the line with some loser. Whatever it is you feel in that moment will possibly set up the lens through which you look to raise your daughter. Assuming you stick around for the long haul, that is.
Reason Three: Rights, opportunities and privileges as any boy. This is such a loaded expectation. I only say this because the world we live in is so unkind to anyone who identifies as female. We (and by we, I mean Kenya) are a developing nation, but the circumstances are similar world over. Same same but different. In black and white, certain areas of planet earth have taken more progressive steps in ensuring the girl child has equal opportunities as the boys. Others, not so much. Even then, certain experiences that girls have cut across social status, physical distance, racial profiling, age etc. For a girl dad to have the expectation that his daughter will experience the world with the same privileges handed over to boys is not so realistic. To manifest this into reality, he must walk the talk. But that’s not enough. He must go the extra mile and take the time to learn how his male social power and male privilege works to his advantage. Even with the most minimal effort from him. He must use the advantages accorded to him to be an ally in making the world a better place for the girl child world over. He is allowed to be selfish in his inspiration and do it for his daughter. That’s okay.
Reason Four: Because I’m a sucker for parents who love on their children. Parents who show up. Parents who do better because a little person somewhere is watching. Parents who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and make mud pies with their kids. Parents who have drank lukewarm tea and half cooked meals because their children made it. Parents who stay up late into the night because their child has a fever. Parents who skip lunch because they are saving up to get their kids a bike. Parents who aren’t afraid to say no to late night meetings because their child’s bedtime rituals are a priority too. Parents who can never put into words how much their love for their children surpasses all human understanding. It really is akin to a spiritual experience.
Single dads,first time dads, widower dads, two dad families, blended family dads, adoptive dads, foster dads, taking care of younger siblings dads, married dads, divorced dads showing up for their children, we salute you.
Happy Father’s Day!