So much noise scrambling my thoughts as I read Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships edited by Dr. K E Garland. On arrival at our southern border with Mexico, refugee children – referred to as illegal migrants – are separated from their parents. A two-year-old girl screams while a U.S. Border Patrol agent questions her mother. Where is her father, I wonder?
Back to my reading of Daddy.
In her account, “Abandoned at Breakfast,” BB – a writer, wife, and mother whose parents had divorced when she was a kid – recalls her emptiness when her father didn’t show up for her baby shower.
“Behind the makeup and flashing cameras, I was still the little girl who longed for her father’s embrace,” BB recalls. “I wanted [my father] to accept me and tell me that I was beautiful, even fifty pounds heavier.”
More distressing news disturbs my reflections on our troubled relationships with our fathers. The Department of Homeland Security is now holding an estimated 2,400 refugee children under the age of twelve in so-called “tender age” shelters.
If divorce can upend our lives as daughters, what happens when we are snatched from our parents in a strange land where people speak a different language?
My distress grows.
In “A Letter to My Father,” Varina Price – a public health professional and mother of four – writes: “I always wondered what it was like to be a ‘daddy’s girl.’ What would it be like to run to you and sit on your lap as you helped me to tie my shoe, tell me a story, or give me a hug?”
Varina’s father never responded to her letter.
The fourteen real-life stories shared in Dr. Garland’s book reveal the pain daughters endure because of absent, neglectful, or uncaring fathers. The negative impact hounds their adult lives: trust issues, especially with men; a broken life intent on revenge; emotional detachment; gnawing resentment towards father; fear of abandonment; and lingering anger. Each woman, in her own manner, finds a way to heal and move forward with her life.
Our president – father of three sons and two daughters – capitulates to criticisms of his “zero tolerance” in handling the influx of immigrants on our southern border.
“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” he says, before signing an executive order to end the child abuse.
I think of the fathers holding government positions who conceive and implement such inhumane policies. I think of the daughters in their lives. What lessons are they teaching them about the ways of men?
As a daughter who also had a dysfunctional relationship with my father, I connected with the fourteen women in Dr. Garland’s collection. Like Roxanne – a wife, mother, and marriage & family counselor – in “Daddy’s Girl,” I learned to forgive my father.
“I knew that forgiveness has great power for the one choosing to forgive,” Roxanne writes.
I couldn’t agree more.
DR. K E GARLAND
Dr. K E Garland, born and raised in Chicago, now lives in Florida with her husband of twenty-one years and their two daughters. She is an award-winning writer whose work focuses on inspirational creative nonfiction.
The printed version of Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships (2018) is available at Lulu. The Kindle eBook is available at Amazon.
Other publications include: The Unhappy Wife (2016) and Kwoted (2015).