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August 26, 2010


Melissa May

I grew up without a father and what I wouldn't have given to have had him in my life. My father was an alcoholic, habitual liar and a womanizer....I was better off without his influence. But there wasn't a day that went by, especially in my teen years, that I didn't wish for a dad who stuck around and took care of his family.

I was very blessed in that I had pastors, friends and other male role models who took an interest in my future and made themselves available to help me when I needed them. When it came to choosing whether or not to pursue a relationship with my now husband, it was the men I knew and trusted to whom I really looked for advice. Having grown up without a father, I didn't know much about men, but they did. And they cared enough to invest their time helping me sort out my feelings and make a decision.

The role of fathers and men is so under-appreciated in our society. I'm especially infuriated by the idea that you don't need a man to help you raise a child anymore, as single moms do it (seemingly) successfully all the time now. Having grown up without a father, I know all too well just how much good dads are needed.


My biological father was a racist, abusive, molesting piece of trash. I would have been much better off without him. Luckily my mother divorced and a few years later remarried. My step-father IS my father. ^-^ Needless to say, I can get a bit touchy when people insinuate that children are doomed without a biological father. I'm all for encouraging biological fathers to stay around and be actual fathers, but having as awful a bio dad, and as great a step-dad, I know it takes a lot more then genetics to be a father (and mother for that matter).
I also don't like bumbling dad/stupid husband stereotype. I think it's unrealistic and gives men a "pass" on being irresponsible, which in turn "forces" more familial responsibility on women.
As far as fathers being a part of relationship decisions.....I don't believe there isn't anything wrong with say, imposing dating limits. (No dating until 16, no dating if your GPA slips below a certain point, etc) But a father who decides WHO I can date seems kinda creepy. This isn't to say that a father (or mother) shouldn't give advice, but after a certain point, you are your own person. I had not-so-great relationship that ended before it got too out of hand (it was borderline verbally abusive, I ended it when I realized that) And going over the break up with my parents, my step-dad told me "I had a weird feeling about him, don't get back together with him." I asked why he never said that before and he replied "Because you wouldn't listen if I did." Sometimes as humans we are bound to make mistakes. If we are infatuated with someone, we will overlook their flaws. Sometimes these flaws are significant. My step-father made the same mistake with his first wife, My mother with my father and I with that boy. Both my step-father and mother were told. They didn't believe it when they were told, and honestly, I would have written it off as over concern on their part. In fact, had they told me, I may have disregarded any further advice they gave. It's actually a common ploy on an abusers part to take any dislike from friends and family and turn it into "they are trying to tear us apart".

This is a long, convoluted reply, but I guess in short: Fathers should be there for relationship talks and advice. But decisions should be left to the daughter. Because a father is there to guide her, not control her.

That said even I find the idea of asking for a fathers (well, parents) permission to marry to be romantic and good natured. This of course is assuming there is a good relationship between the daughter and her parents. I just think that it shows good communication and respect, which is important for a family. This is an instance I prefer to ignore the traditional origins where the daughter was practically property.

Also, my mom was an awesome single mom. I have immense respect for single parents. I think two parents are ideal, but one stable single parent is a much healthier environment then two parents in an unstable relationship.

Lisa Nash

If the child is not yet an adult, then I say absolutely yes, the father should be actively involved. I think that parents can be a little too respectful of their children's privacy when it comes to important decisions and who the children spend their time with. If the fifteen-year-old daughter is dating someone unacceptable, I would argue that the parents have the obligation, not just the opportunity, to step in.

If the child is an adult, the father's input might have to be limited to a statement -- "You are a grown woman, but for what it's worth I don't think he treats you well enough for what you deserve." If a girl has a good relationship with her father, hopefully she would trust his judgment enough to at least consider his point of view, even if she chooses a different path in the end.

As far as TV dads go, I don't think you can get much better than Dr. Huxtable! He was involved in his kids' lives and treated them with dignity, but he and his wife were still clearly in control, even when their decisions were unpopular. All that, and good humor, too! :)


Where did Koni say the dad had to be a "bio" dad? Tilting at windmills as usual Shanna.


Forgive my tangent. If my perspective is unwelcome, just say so.

Robin Goodfellow

Geez Emily, where did that come from?

Tilting at windmills? Considering the touchiness of the subject for her, would it be too much to ask for a more sensitive approach?

You know, some people just need to be heard. It's possible for us to read what she had to say as "I'm assuming that you don't mean biological father, because mine was like...", and left it.

Otherwise, there's not much I can say, other than say I also agree with fathers who want to screen the guys their daughters date/marry. It would be an honour to date a girl whose father cared that much about her.

And so I think Shanna is too sensical to be compared to Don Quioxté. Myself, however...

I am I, Donkey Oté, the [other word for donkey] of La Mancha
Capery calls, and I go
And the wild winds of whimsy, shall carry me onward
Whithersoever they blow
Whithersoever they blow... onward to mischief I go!

(My version of some lines from "Man of La Mancha")

You folks play nice now ;)

Melissa May

Shanna, your perspective is always welcome here!

I have to admit, though, that I too was a bit confused by the *tangent*, since I didn't see anywhere in Koni's post that she was referring to biological dads. But I was already aware of the fact that she was adopted, so I wasn't looking for it, either.

However, Robin is right. For those of us who missed out in some way in the dad department, any discussion of the role of fathers stirs up a lot of emotions. It's almost visceral. My biological father fits the same mold as yours, Shanna. That is, he was a failure at fatherhood. And it hurt more than I can ever describe.

I loved your last paragraph, Shanna: "Also, my mom was an awesome single mom. I have immense respect for single parents. I think two parents are ideal, but one stable single parent is a much healthier environment then two parents in an unstable relationship."

This sums up exactly what I believe about single parenthood. (Hey, we agree on something!!! I knew it would happen sooner or later!)

Thanks for sharing your perspective Shanna. You are always welcome here.

Darla Gaylor

Like Melissa May, I missed out largely on having a good father in my upbringing- lots of unpleasant details in there- but I was always blessed to have other good male role models. Unfortunately, I was not related to any, save two: an uncle and a dear grandfather. I am beyond grateful for the husband that I have, and the father that he is to our two girls. I hope they never go looking for love and validation from men the way I did for a brief period of time.

Good fathers are immensely important in the lives of children and we have marginalized them in Western society to our detriment. Single parents can do just fine, I'm sure, though I've seen precious few in my own personal life, but how much easier on both mom and kids is it to have a good man around?

Expectations for men to play large parts in family life have seemingly dropped in recent years, and in turn more men have chosen to live up to those low expectations.

Such a shame.

Roland Warren


I was delighted to find such a candid discussion about fatherhood, especially from young people. I too grew up without my dad and I am fond of saying that kids have a hole in their souls in the shape of their dads. I believe God puts its it there and he whispers into the wombs of their mothers that their is this guy who will love them like no other. When he doesn't, it can leave wound that is not easily healed. Alas, I have discovered that I am a wounded soul--it sounds like some of you are as well--So I left a job at Goldman Sachs to head National Fatherhood Initiative (www.fatherhood.org) which is focused on helping dads be the best dads that they can be.

I suppose that the pain "then" of feeling neglected by my father is part of the happiness "now" when I see good fathers connecting with their kids. And, I am encourage to see dialog like this. We live in a culture that suggests that fathers are one of the 3Ds (dumb, dangerous or disaffected) and unfortunately too many dads believe this, so there is lots still to do.

Last thing. I am a little over half way through Wendy's first book on modesty and was inspired to check the web to see whatever happened to her. No, idea I would find a discussion on fatherhood. Not surprised though. Good fathers play an important and vital role in helping girls have the courage to embrace the perspective that Wendy eloquently outlines in her book. After all, a dad's role is to help his daughter find her prince without kissing all the toads...

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