15 Jun 2011

The powerful triangle of mother-father-child is constantly being reviewed and dissected. As we get close to Father’s Day it gives us time to think about the power of this relationship. Is your father a beloved and respected human or merely seen as a sperm donor? Hard thoughts that need to be discussed. For, as I discuss in “Don’t Bring it to Work” what forms us is family, culture, and crises. And whoever that man is who is your biological father is part of you, like it or not. So, as the following article states, how about getting to know this man. And here is the challenge: what is one thing you can say that is positive. Some of us can go on and on. Others will have to dig down to find an answer. I promise, finding even just one aspect of this man will benefit you in ways that may be surprising and refreshing. Go, dig for the gold and let me know what you find.

Fathers and Familiar Strangers: Who Is This Man in Your life?

By: Dr. Peggy Drexler on Huff Post Women

There’s a saying: the problem with relationships is that people change and forget to tell each other.

From the broadest demographics to the workings of a single household, it’s hard to find relationships that have changed more than in the worlds of fathers and daughters. It’s change that adds new urgency and possibility to a question that, on the surface, should be as easy as the bond is ancient.

How well do you know your father?

Part of the answer is context — framed by the incredible change in the power of women.

Women make over 85 percent of consumer purchases, and they have direct influence over 95 percent of total goods and services.

More than 70 percent of families with children are two-income. Close to 40 percent of mothers work full time. And in one in three couples, wives bring home more than their husbands; one in four when both work.

In my studies of women and families over the years, I’ve seen something totally new in family dynamics — many daughters who are for more successful than their fathers. I’ve talked to women struggling to process the fact that their own achievements have taken them to heights their father will never reach, and places he’ll never go.

With an increase in power comes a decrease in dependence, meaning the words — “my house, my rules” — have lost their finality. The father’s once sacred role of protecting his daughter until she can be handed off to the protection of a husband is laughable.

The logical step in this post-feminist buffet of independence and choice is that daughters would step out from the shadow of their fathers the same way they have with other men in their lives.

From my research into the lives of a variety of women with a variety of relationships with their fathers, that step appears surprisingly difficult; for some, impossible. Much to the confusion of many of the women I talked to, they still hunger for their fathers’ approval — even when a father’s behavior should make his approval irrelevant.

That brings us to an interesting place.

Events have transformed the dynamics of one of the world’s most important relationships. But the emotional heartbeat of that relationship — the need for closeness and approval — remains powerful and insistent.

And that brings us to another place: the need for a whole new kind of relationship — where daughters get to know the man behind a job description that bears scant resemblance to the past.

In my book, Our Fathers Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and The Changing American Family, I suggest some questions that a daughter might ask herself.

Some are simple and factual. Where has you father lived? What were his parents like? What is his favorite book? What is his favorite movie? What is his favorite meal? What food does he hate?

Some drill deeper emotional strata. What were the happiest days of his life? What days were the darkest? What were his dreams at your age? How does he feel about his life, and where he is?

You don’t have to ask him these questions directly (although you could.) But they can be a useful step toward a deeper understanding of the first man in your life.

Through that understanding might come a stronger relationship and, quite possibly, a better understanding of yourself.

Last month I asked you all a question at the end of my blog.

Your response was overwhelming — so many voices sharing heartfelt and meaningful thoughts about fathers. As we approach Father’s Day, I would very much like to hear from you again.

I have another question:

If you could ask one question of your father knowing that he would have no recollection of either the question or his answer, what would your question be?

Author, ‘Our Fathers Ourselves. Daughters, Fathers, And The Changing American Family’

My response to Dr. Drexler’s article above:

The special relationsh­ip with a mother has a nine month start on the one with a father. And the birthing journey cannot be replicated with a dad.Yet, much energy is spent by adults still seeking acceptance and appreciati­on from this primary man in their lives.

As I interview individual­s for “GUTSY: How Women Leaders Make Change” I am struck by how many of us go to work still looking for daddy’s approval. And that is for all women, those who have never met their fathers as well as those with close relationsh­ips. So much of how we behave as leaders comes from what we saw as kids with our own dads.

I want to thank Peggy Drexler for her thoughtful and important pre-Father­’s Day article.

Sylvia Lafair author, “Don’t Bring It to Work”


6 Responses to Why Every Day is Father’s Day
  1. I believe that everyday should be Mother’s Day too :) Our parents have played an important part in our lives and have molded us to be who we are now. If we don’t know our biological father or mother, whomever you call “mom” or “dad” is that person who’s molded you.

  2. I think it makes sense a little because when you are little and your father is always working or not there as much as the mother, a child can really want more from that person that is in their life but they do not get to spend as much time with. It is a lot like the grass being greener on the other side. A lot of humans as a rule want what they cannot have.

  3. Hi Sylvia,

    The article is so true and I can relate to that. Honestly, I am not very close with my father but he has always been a protective father to me and my siblings. Right now, I can say that I earn more than how much he earns but I still seek for his approval most of the time. A father is a father no matter how much more salary you receive than him. Even if we become independent, our respect to him as the head of the family will never fade easily.

  4. Great article. Especially with yesterday being Father’s Day, this just reminds us how important our “parents” are to us.

  5. My father is my role model. I feel grateful he’s still in my life since most of my friends’ parents have passed away. However, this article makes me think because I don’t know the little things in his life like his favorite book growing up, or how his father was like. Time to do some research. Thanks for this article, Syliva.

  6. I agree! Our parents are the ones who gave us life. They should be honored everyday and even take the time to ask the questions we don’t know about them. You mentioned great points. Thanks Sylvia.

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