According to the Urban Dictionary, “Daddy Issues” Is “When a girl has a messed up relationship with her dad. Usually the father’s fault. Either he left or is acting like a total bitch.”
Not sure how accurate that is, but I did laugh out loud.
In layman’s terms, Daddy Issues refer to a dysfunctional father/daughter relationship resulting in a myriad of issues for the daughter ranging from a lack of self-esteem (check), people pleasing (check), falling for emotionally unavailable men (CHECK!!!)
But fear not, fathers — read on and heed my advice because you’re not a b****!
Here are 10 things you can do to GUARANTEE your daughter grows up with major daddy issues.
1. Point out “Pretty Girls”
During my teenage years, I experimented with my hair quite a bit.
I’d dye my naturally blonde hair various shades of red, deep chestnut brown, or add bleached highlights. There was a crunchy/curly phase that required loads of mousse and even an ill-conceived pixie cut. (A pixie is very short.)
My Dad rarely liked what I did with my hair, so he decided the best way to articulate his feelings was by pointing out girls who wore their hair long and natural and telling me how pretty they were.
As you might imagine, this did not have the desired effect of making me rethink my hair choices. It did, however, make me feel like a hideous disappointment.
2. Don’t Show Affection
While my father was decent at showing me affection, however, I never saw it between him and my stepmom.
(My parents divorced when I was 4.)
I can count on one hand the number of times I saw them kiss or even hug over the course of 15 years.
Do you want your daughters to believe a lack of physical connection in a relationship is desirable?
If you take away anything from this article, know that you are modeling what a good relationship looks like to your daughters.
3. Play Into Gender Stereotypes
I wish my Dad had exposed me to the type of hands-on work he involved my brother in.
There were so many times I stood around watching him wrench away at something on our boat or curse quietly under the hood of a car when I silently wished he would ask me to help.
Those could have been some fantastic bonding times for us, and perhaps I wouldn’t be googling “how to refill windshield wiper fluid” as a 38-year-old woman.
4. Avoid Her Emotions
When I was 16, a good friend died in a car accident. It was my first time experiencing the loss of a contemporary, and I was devastated.
Just minutes after learning of the tragedy, my Dad called. When he asked how I was doing, I immediately burst into tears, and he immediately handed the phone to my stepmom.
While my stepmom was amazing at comforting me, my Dad missed out on an opportunity to be there for me emotionally.
He was never able to talk to me about things involving feelings, and today I still struggle to have those deep conversations with the men in my life.
5. Don’t Admit When You’re Wrong
I’ll never forget when my Stepmom and Dad fought in front of my sister and me about directions to get somewhere (classic, right?!)
Anyway, the fight crescendoed when my stepmom finally blurted out, “You think you’re so fucking perfect!”
My Dad promptly invited my sister and me to walk down the street to a friend’s house. I have no idea who was right about the directions, but I sympathized with my stepmom.
My Dad had this irritating habit of always believing he was right. No matter the circumstance or subject, my Dad wouldn’t back down even if the situation called for a simple “Maybe I misheard you.”
Don’t be that guy.
6. Talk About Her Weight
One day, entirely out of the blue, my Dad turned to me in the car and said, “Don’t be thinking you’re fat or anything.”
You’ll never guess what I thought.
To be fair to him, I imagine he overheard my sister and me talking about a diet or complaining that we couldn’t fit into a particular pair of jeans or something equally vapid, but conversations about weight should not be entered into lightly or without thought.
It’s a sensitive topic, especially for girls, that should be spoken about delicately from a health perspective.
7. Make No Attempts To Understand Her
Every time I stayed with my Dad, we had the same fight.
I would get up in the morning, and he would put out some kind of cereal or cream of wheat (because kids LOVE cream of wheat) and tell me to sit at the table and eat breakfast.
Each morning I would say I wasn’t hungry, and then we would get into a massive fight.
This might seem like a trivial example, but my point is that my Dad rarely attempted to find out why I did the things I did or felt the way I felt. Looking back, I think he viewed me as some kind of alien creature — bursting with emotions and irrationality.
For the record, to this day, I do not eat breakfast.
8. Only Support Her When She Does What You Want Her To Do
My Dad was encouraging, enthusiastic, and loving when I did what he wanted.
His favorite thing in the world is skiing. When I finally told him at 16 that I didn’t want to ski, that I actually hated skiing, and that I had hated it since the first time he forced me to do it at five years old, he was shocked.
I wanted his approval so badly that I spent 11 years freezing my ass off and eating top ramen in a lodge that smelled like feet. But I did it because it was the only time I ever felt like he was proud of me.
9. Tell Her Not To Follow Her Dreams
My sister and I had a nickname for my Dad — the Dream Crusher.
We called him this because anytime we talked about the things we hoped to do or the careers we fantasized about having, he would list all the reasons why it would never happen.
Was it a stretch for me to become a fashion designer and my sister a dolphin trainer? Yes. Was it helpful for my Dad to discourage us from pursuing those things at every turn? No.
I understand and appreciate my Dad’s inclination toward the practical, but his lack of confidence in me was profoundly painful. I still wrestle with feelings surrounding my ability to do difficult things.
10. Don’t Acknowledge What You Don’t Like
When I was just 21 years old, my boyfriend of nearly three years proposed to me, and I said Yes.
My Dad and I did not have a good relationship during my late teens and early 20s, and I knew he would disapprove of me marrying so young, but when he failed to even acknowledge the impending wedding, I was heartbroken. So I didn’t invite him.
My brother walked me down the aisle, there was no Dad/daughter dance, and we did not speak for ten years after that. I don’t place all the blame on him, and I know there were things I could/should have done differently to repair our relationship.
Still, his inability to acknowledge such a massive milestone in my life kept me from allowing him to be a part of it.
My Dad is not a bad guy or father, and this writing is not a punishment to him, although I’m sure he won’t be thrilled if he ever reads it.
(For the record, we are working on our relationship, and he has made a significant effort to be a part of my life over the last few years.)
I wrote this to offer guidance to Dads who might be struggling with their own daughters. Perhaps you’ll see yourself in my writing, or maybe my words can shed some light on what your girls may be experiencing.
Above all, Dads, remember that your girls will likely find a man who treats them like you do. You can set the bar.
Working through her daddy issues in therapy, Melissa Persling sells beef (seriously), drinks wine (also seriously), and writes stuff she hopes her family doesn’t read, all while being (shockingly) single and childless. Not to brag.