Thu | Feb 22, 2018

No longer daddy's little girl

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMKimberly Goodall

Many persons look to their fathers for protection, comfort and approval, no matter how old they get. But what happens when fathers no longer see their daughters as 'daddy's little girl'.

Sarah Martin* shared with Outlook that she is going through the heartbreak of dealing with the fact that she is no longer her father's little girl. Martin had been a daddy's girl most of her life. She said her father was her hero and the person she ran to for everything.

It was not that she did not love her mother, it was that she found solace in the arms of her 'superman'. So it was really jarring for her when she began to notice a change in his attitude towards her and a wedge forming in their beautiful relationship.

"I believe our relationship changed when I started to develop my own opinions and was no longer hesitant to express myself or disagree with him. At this point, he began to reject my opinion and would not stick around to hear what took place in my daily life. After I saw the tendencies, I became rebellious and was quick to take offence to comments he made about me. When I moved away to attend university, our relationship found somewhat of a middle ground. We hardly spoke over the phone, and spoke very little when I went home for the weekends," she said.

"Today, our relationship is stagnant but healthy. I still wonder what really caused the change and wish I knew what happened."

According to psychiatrist and wellness consultant Dr Anthony Allen, "Personality has a lot to do with how a father manages his daughter getting older, but when a child grows into an adult, the father-daughter relationship will change - just as any type of relationship would after personal growth." He continues, "What daughters must realise is that when they become an adult, their relationship with their fathers changes to two adults relating. When the relationship reaches this point, there is a need for more discussions and clarity in roles. It may also be that fathers expect their daughters to start being responsible and choose responsible spouses. I encourage daughters to talk to their fathers when they start feeling unloved and unwanted. Fathers will always love their daughters, but each will show it differently based on personality," said Allen.

We asked our readers to share how they felt about the change in the relationship with their fathers, and how they found a middle ground.

"I had been a daddy's girl all through my youth until I hit puberty. We used to do a lot together. I was used to going to him for everything. He taught me how to draw, he was the one I turned to when I was sick. Daddy was my superhero and loved doing everything with me too, but then I hit puberty and he turned into a bodyguard and less of a dad. He got overprotective and dictated instead of asking me things and even soliciting my opinion. It became a bit overbearing, to the point that we barely communicated.

We lived in the same house, but he knew absolutely nothing about me. I think it finally hit him after a while, especially when I was going out and never said anything to him, that we had really grown apart. So, he started to make the effort to talk instead of push me around. We are not where we were, and I do not think we will ever be, but we have become more sociable."

Jessica Turner*, 29

"Remembering the time of the change, I must say it was a tough transition. For seven years I was the only girl child in his life, so when I got a sibling, the attention and focus shifted. It took some time getting used to, but the reality set in the day when he left me behind and brought the baby out walking. It was our ritual to go walking in the evenings. From then, I was no longer daddy's little girl."

Kerry-Ann Gooden*, 32

"My father and I had a great relationship while I was growing up. As a child, anywhere he went, I was right there with him. He was always working, and so I was either there with him, or eagerly anticipating his return home. As a teenager, however, I started to notice a shift, following my interest in boys. He became a strict disciplinarian, forbidding me to do just about everything. By the time I was a young adult, we argued all the time. I found that I just couldn't relate to him. At this time, I grew even closer to my mother and I think that affected our relationship, too. I thought there was no repairing this, but now, I've decided to balance quality time with him, along with other aspects of my life. And if we disagree, I'll give him time, then just let it slide. Life is too short; he has one daughter and I only have only one father."

Kamille Johnson*, 28

* Names changed upon request