Monday, February 2, 2009

Father Knows Less

The story goes like this-- A woman who had heard about my first book, excited about the topic, came to see me not only to thank me for my efforts to help parents gain a better understanding of their female teens (and vice versa), but to also share her concerns regarding the man she's currently dating who apparently has an out of control 15yrld daughter. The woman loves him enough to want to marry him, but his refusal to deal with his daughter's unruly ways is keeping her from fully committing. She's tried encouraging him to set boundaries, learn healthier communication skills, pick up help-guides for fathers, but he avoids any kind of critical reading or discussions. "She's my princess," he tells her, while princess runs circles around him! The woman respects the undying love he has for his only child. But knowing that his daughter has managed to scare off his past mates, she's afraid the same thing may happen to her. So she figured by hearing another father speak of his own struggles with parenting that he might very well get inspired to make the necessary changes in himself first, for the sake of his relationship with his daughter, as well as their own. Seems like a fair enough deal, right? Daddy looking at what he might be doing wrong in his attempt to relate better to his teen; teen comes out of 'princess' mode and begins learning to express her pain in a more constructive manner, and woman gets to plan a beautiful wedding! Sounds like a good enough ending to the story, to me. Problem is daddy doesn't want to do any reflecting or changing. He's stuck on ribbons and lace. The fantasy so many fathers keep locked in their minds when it comes to their daughters. They don't really see their daughters, just their idea of what a daughter is supposed to look and act like. And what does daddy's little girl do? Exploit the situation, of course. What else?

When daughter is allowed to hustle father, there's really nothing anyone can do but wait until father has had enough. Until then, he'll make all kinds of excuses to keep his fantasy going, because the harsh reality of seeing her for who she is, to him, is far much more devastating than the emotional and financial burdens of keeping up appearances.

I didn't want to offer any couples advice, but we both knew what time it was. She said, "How can he expect me to leave my place of peace only to enter a chaotic environment?" Then later adding, "I can't be with a man who won't even make the effort to take control of his own household!" It's as if she needed to say this out loud in order to give it power.

Brothaman, if you're reading this please don't let ego and fear cause you to miss out on another chance at love. Just like not all males are dogs, not all daughters are fragile, innocent flowers. Some of them are downright toxic creatures! By denying yourself of not only true love, but true bonding with your child, you take the risk of spending the rest of your years chasing someone who doesn't want to be found, then wake up one day and discover you've let so much time go by out of your desperate need to hold on to nothing but ribbons and lace!

So how do I love you in the way you need it most? How do I turn your blackouts (SVR/sudden violent rage) into great opportunities for me to see and understand your pains better, so that you can understand mine? Here’s another cheat list I use when my ego gets in OUR way—

I say
“Go to your room!”

She hears
I’m not willing to deal
with reality, so I turn
to a formula
that I already know
doesn’t work with you

I say
“I forbid you!”

She hears
I’m so out of control,
I’m trippin’!

I say
“Did you do your homework?"

She hears
I care more about grades
than how you're doing personally

I say
“You’re just like your mother!"

She hears
I still got unresolved
issues with your mother
and I’m trying to lay them on you

I say
“My princess.”

She hears
I’m so in denial I look
at my daughter as a
fairytale character,
rather than a real
young woman with
real young woman issues*

*Excerpt from Before You Fly Off - Vol. 1

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