A few thoughts from my heart to yours...
So how did I guess that you'd be stopping by to look here? Because I would be doing the same thing if I were you! :o)
You're either a daughter who longs for her dad to dial in more or you're a wife who has come to my website to find resources for your husband. Either way, I am so glad you are here. I have found that most often it is either a daughter who wants to be closer to her dad or a mom who has nudged her husband or significant other to check out The Abba Project, both which serve to motivate a dad to join this venture.
Because we as women tend to be more dialed in relationally, we are most often the driving force behind men as we urge them to spend the time, money, and energy to invest in making the dad-daughter relationship stronger. As we well know, if we really love or want something, we figure out a way to make it happen, right? (I've got one word for you: Sale. You know what I'm talking about! If we hear of a fantastic deal on something, we usually always want our friends to know about it). We want to share the wealth when something is good. It's how we tend to work on Venus. As women we want to share in connecting with others and we are hard wired with a core need for connection and relationship.
When it comes to dads and husbands, women usually see where the relational deficits are at in terms of how they relate to the females around them. And when those areas are observed in living color, most women find it nigh to impossible to keep from nudging their men towards resolution or solution.
Press pause for a minute. I want to definitely highlight that there are some incredible dads out there who are positively investing and pursuing their daughter's hearts. Maybe you're one of the rare yet blessed daughters who had a dad like this. If so, honestly, I am so happy for you. Treasure that kind of positive investment from your dad because I have no doubt that you are an emotionally solid, clear headed, vibrant woman. That is worth celebrating!
But when it comes to the norm of what I hear (rather than the exception), it is the lack of positive connection with dad that leads a daughter to often go "looking for love in all the wrong places."
Everywhere I go I hear stories from daughters who carry significant dad wounds or dad voids. In fact, we don't have to look very far with celebrities to hear their dad wound/void stories: Lindsay Lohan, Demi Lovato, Janet Jackson, Adele, Tatum O'Neal, and on it goes. It then becomes fairly easy to connect the dots between those hurts and subsequent unwise choices, which I believe are designed either to numb the pain or fill the void. Let me explain further.
Fathers Impact Their Children In Three Ways:
1. Father Wounds. These are specific things a dad does do to hurt his child----physical, verbal, sexual, spiritual or emotional wounding.
2. Father Voids (or Vacuums if you feel your dad sucked things out or you). These are things that a dad does not do that hurt his child----broken promises, unkept commitments, lack of time, not investing financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, relationally.
Margo Maine in her 2004 book entitled Father Hunger writes:
“Father hunger is a deep, persistent desire by all children for emotional connection with their father…Like physical hunger, unsatisfied emotional hunger does not disappear; instead, it grows and grows. Adults who have not found a way to relate to their fathers or resolve their feelings of loss may continue to suffer this hunger indefinitely.”
3. Father Gifts. These are things that a dad specifically does to invest in his child, his legacy, letting him or her know in word and action that he/she is valuable, worthy, special, treasured, loved, adored, respected, etc.
Because our dads are finite human beings with their own father wounds and voids, they often repeat what they know, even if it's hurting their children or proving to be ineffective and problematic. And one thing I tell the dads I work with (something, incidentally, that they always agree with) is that men would rather do nothing than to do it wrong.
So when it comes to being a father to a daughter, especially once puberty hits and things are more complex and complicated, it is common for a dad to assume that he is making matters worse when he doesn't navigate his daughter's mercurial and ever-changing emotional dynamics well, leading him often to back off and turn the reins over to mom. That is when he mistakenly assumes that she will do a better job of parenting their daughter, a decision that leads to what I boldly call a "life-threatening blow." Sadly, I hear story after story where daughters of all ages say they wanted more of their dads. Most every daughter wishes that her dad would want to be with her and for him to enjoy her while pursuing her heart.
Getting underneath the surface...
Going a little deeper, if you want to begin working on healing your father wound or void, I would encourage you to take the three areas above (wounds, voids, gifts) and make a list of the ways that your dad has wounded you, missed connecting with you, or given to you. Start by putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and get those things out into the open. Do it a little bit at a time so it's less daunting.
It may even help to go through old photo albums to bring back memories that are stored inside you. See what memories emerge through the avenue of pictures as you see people, places, and events. It may even help to ask family members for stories that you may have forgotten.
As you work through this writing about your dad, see if you can find things to write about in all three categories. Then when you have written those down, it could be beneficial to write a letter to your dad telling him those things that you have recalled. Writing a narrative will take the list you made and add depth, emotion, and heart to it.
And whether or not you give the letter to your dad (perhaps he has passed or isn't safe for you or the timing isn't right), it will be benefical to you to put your thoughts and feelings onto paper. This gives you a voice that is clear and honest, a step that is tied to you becoming and being an empowered woman.
End by writing the truth of who you are, whether or not your dad saw those things in you or ever acknowledged them. Write as if this was your life manifesto on display for the world to see. Let it be your document to celebrate your likes, passions, interests, giftings, personality, tastes, preferences, opinions, beliefs, and anything else that comes to mind!
P.S. For anyone who isn't yet married...
If you're not married yet, use that list of things you've written about yourself as the template by which you evaluate the guys you're dating or the guy you're considering marrying.
Find a man who is a match for you and not someone you're trying to rescue or change... because that is just an attempt to try and repair or rework your "daddy issues" anyway. And if it's hard to get past those issues in order to trust yourself to choose a great guy, invite close heart friends and family members who you know you and love you to weigh in. Choose to listen (without defensiveness) to their voices because they truly do want the best for you. They want you to spend your life with the best person in the world, someone who deserves you, someone who leads you to thrive and soar, not someone who reinforces the lies that may be in place from your dad (if he was destructive or wasn't there for you).
And though I always recommend listening to your own voice while asking for God's wisdom, I know from experience that when there are yet unhealed wounds and voids inside, it's easy to be drawn to a man who honestly isn't a good fit (I could share A LOT with you on that subject, some of which is in my book). Make the wise choice before marriage to honestly and clearly look at the good, the bad, and the ugly about your guy so you don't have to go through the heartache of it all crashing down on you later.
I trust that these suggestions will feel more like they're coming from a friend rather than a harsh critic. I really do want to see our country changed for the better where women are stronger and clearer, and are using their energies to make the world a better place rather than using the bulk of their energies on trying to rework their childhood dad wounds and voids with a guy who isn't the source of their problems and hurt anyway. Find a counselor to help walk you through things if you're stuck. You can do that by asking friends and family who they have heard is good at what they do. Do the work on the front end of committing to a man for life and you'll be glad you did. I promise!
(By the way, I have attached a "Daughter to Dad Date Questionnaire" in the Resource section---which is just under the "Women" tab) just in case you want to ask your dad questions to help him share more of his life with you.
And if you'd like to read a blog I wrote a few years ago on being single, here it is. I hope it touches your heart: