Like Father, Like Daughter

I have never understood the father-daughter dynamic. The pull that my daughters feel toward their father, the need to make him happy – these are foreign things in my world, and they have me spinning in circles.

For most families, the dad is the main male role model in the children’s lives. This is where they first learn about interacting with the opposite sex. I suppose that has some merit. What I don’t understand is why. I did not grow up with a father around, and never really had the influence of a male role model in my life. So, I really don't get what all of the hype is about.

My girls value their dad’s affection and opinion above all else. Most definitely above mine.

Cassie has wanted to go to college in New York for years. Her 16th birthday present from us was a trip to New York to look at the schools and decide if she would like it. I thought it was a raging success. She fell in love with all that it had to offer. And wanted to go to school there. However, because her father doesn’t want her to go to school in New York, she is losing interest. He thinks it is too far, too dangerous, too much of MY idea, and not enough of HIS idea. The truth is that it was CASSIE'S IDEA and I simply supported it. There was nothing more to it. She wanted to go – I took her to see it. She decided she liked it.

I have promised to pay for the girls’ college education. All of it. If their dad wants to help, I am THRILLED, and also surprised. But, I will not make them pay for it themselves. It is something that is important to me. So – this being the case, I assumed Cassie wouldn’t think twice about what her dad wanted, or at least not give it much merit. I assumed that she would choose the school she ACTUALLY WANTED TO ATTEND. I was wrong.

Her dad made her apply to a state school. She hates Texas. She doesn’t want to stay here, doesn’t want to go to college here, and yet she is still entertaining the thought of going to the “local school”, which is insane. It meets none of her requirements. Beach? No. Coastal? No. Out of Texas? No. Football team? No. The only positive aspect is that they have 1) a criminal justice major and 2) a good arts program.

There are however other schools that offer a specific criminal justice degree, such as Michigan State, Florida State, Washington State, John Jay, among others. She has applied to most of them. She has already been accepted to Washington State. And this is the one (next to the local one) that she is considering. Do you know why? Because it won’t upset her dad.

Remember now, he (most likely) isn’t paying for college anyway. I am. He is cheap and selfish, and I can see no scenario where he actually forks over a dime for it. Cassie wants to be on her own. And yet her dad’s talons are still deep within her flesh. She is not capable of making a decision that causes a confrontation with him.

Why is it that for both of the girls, their number one parenting priority is to not piss off their dad? They seem to live to please him, although he very rarely is pleased with anything they do. And yet – they persist. They continue to vie for his affection and seem nonchalant about mine. I have to think that this boils down to a father-daughter dynamic that is deeper than I can comprehend.

"We found that eighth-grade girls who said they were not close with their fathers cited a significantly higher incidence of depressed mood than girls who described their relationship with their fathers as close," explains Pamela Sarigiani, assistant professor of child development and family studies, Purdue University. "We expected to find the same pattern among girls who said they didn't get along well with their mothers, but we didn't." When fathers of 12th-grade girls indicated they were feeling depressed, their daughters said they, too, were in a depressed mood. The same correlation was not found between fathers and sons or mothers and their sons or daughters.

Well, isn’t that lovely?