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“Daddy’s Little Girl?”

July 14, 2009

first let me say…the below post and the whole theme that took place last week, is not about picking on men. in fact, its quite the opposite. this has been a raw, heart-felt, time for us women to educate each other…if you so choose to receive it as such. what we’ve been doing is sharing the stuff most women dont share & bringing awareness. truth is, we dont know what to correct unless we’re shown whats wrong or the results of those errors. so, having said that…crystal renaud, pinkhairedgirl, is gonna share some of her heart now. get ready!

To follow Tam’s amazing address to men a few days ago she asked me if I would be willing to share my story with you. You see, while my story is different from Tam’s – the underlying currant is still the same, as you’ll see in the words below.

Fear was the underlying currant in my household as I grew up afraid of my dad. Not because he was physically abusive or because he was overly harsh with us. But because I just didn’t know him and what I knew was simply intimidating.

My dad traveled for a living and was not home 90% of the time. When he would come home, it wasn’t a particularly joyous occasion. It meant he did yard work, slept and packed for the next trip. And it even meant bringing the belt out if the weekly report from my mom wasn’t a positive one.

No real affection was shown from him.
No real “I love you” was ever said by him.
No real relationship was cultivated with him.

My brothers and I even would talk to our dad and ask him questions through my mom. We knew mom. Mom was safe.

And as a girl without a solid and positive relationship with my dad…  my future relationships with men were doomed from the start.

The relationship a girl has with her dad is crucial to her emotional development.

Later in life, a girl will often see her heavenly Father in same way she sees her earthly father. So if she had a dad who was emotionally unavailable, abrasive or unreliable… she will see God in a similar light.

And speaking from experience, making that disconnect once it has been made, is extremely difficult.

That’s a lot of pressure for you fellas, huh?

It has been proven that an underlying contributor to homosexuality, promiscuity and addiction among women, can actually be linked back to whether she had a good relationship with her dad… or not.

And this was definitely true of me.

From the age of 10 and throughout my teens, I battled with a pornography addiction, an eating disorder, sexual orientation confusion and endured a handful of sexually abusive encounters with men.

This is a direct quote from Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating, and is quite similar to my own experience.

“My father never told me I was pretty. He was a hard worker, away from home much of the time, and the core question of my little girl’s heart, “Do you delight in me?” was answered with a resounding “No.” When I became a teenager, I began to bring my heart’s questions to the boys at my school. I learned what was cool to wear and how to act to gain their attention. For me, the way I felt about myself depended on them. Was I pretty today? Was I worth pursuing now? Every day my identity and self-worth were up for grabs. My questions needed answering again and again.”

The difference between Stasi and my story, is that since I found guys my age immature, I took my questions to grown men.

Whether they were teachers, pastors, my friend’s dads or other married men in my life – I pursued their affection. Not outwardly inappropriately mind you. Simply seeking the love, affection and worth that weren’t at home.

Many of the men were gracious and appropriate with me – and protected me and loved me like their daughter.

But for a few men in particular… they crossed the line.

As a teenage girl, I had grown men taking advantage of my vulnerability. From initiating alone time, to saying all the right things to ultimately abusing me sexually – they showed me what my worth really was, confirming what I had always felt.

And for a lot of women, your story is likely similar. Somewhere along the way, you stopped believing you were worthy and went right along with what the world told you.

While I can’t fully put the blame of these things solely on my dad, my actions and experiences filled the void of intimacy, affection and acceptance that I wasn’t receiving at home.

It wasn’t until Christ entered my world that I knew what I was really missing.

My earthly dad may never be the “daddy” and the kind of man I would want him to be. But I know that I have a Father who loves me and who sees me as worthy enough to die for.

My plea to the men reading this post today is this: let my story challenge you to love your girls more. They need your affection. They need to know they are safe. They need to know they are worthy in your eyes. They need to know you love them.

The relationship she has with you, she will take into every single future relationship she has. The consequence is too great to leave the job to someone else.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2009 11:43 am

    Powerful stuff and as I said elsewhere I am glad there are women who are willing to open up in this way because there’s probably nothing worse than thinking you’re going through something nobody else has experienced, so thanks Crystal for sharing that.

    I admit that I didn’t read all of ‘Wild At Heart’ by John Eldredge. Halfway through, all of the “manly man” stuff kind of started boring me as he seemed to be repeating himself. But I did take away from it the importance he placed on fathers and their relationship with their daughters. As fathers we do need to remember that they are looking to us for acceptance, love, and protection. It may sound corny, but for a long time, Dad is ‘Prince Charming’ to his little girl.

    If we can do those things, that day will come when we’ll walk our daughters down the aisle, confident the man that is going to replace us is going to treat them like we did.

    Here is a link showing off my daughter Ally:

    Ally at Matanzas

  2. July 14, 2009 11:54 am

    gonna be forwarding this….

  3. July 14, 2009 12:39 pm

    This pushes me to greatly work to improve my relationship with my 4 y/o daughter.

    Even as I fight desperately to have a good relationship with my 7 y/o son, who desperately needs my approval and love at a time when he has a lot of behaviors that he desperately needs to work on.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    That said, I’m not sure that some realize the consequences of making every father that reads this into a paranoid that he might somehow make a mistake that will cause his daughter to be a serial killer. Somewhere along the way we’ve got to balance the “victim” mentality and stop blaming somebody else for everything that’s a disaster in our lives.

    Fathers can’t be perfect, either.

    Even though I greatly empathize with the daughter in the above story, I would challenge any daughter / wife / mother that living in Daddy’s shoes isn’t the cakewalk it’s portrayed as, either.

    We’re often trying desperately hard to do what we feel God would have us do and be, and we often hear only that “you’re not meeting my needs”. Grace from the female sector to the male sector is a critical part of the equation.

    Kinda like adults with no children who tell me how to raise mine… Women clearly aren’t men, so they’ll never really understand us, yet it seems there’s a lot of willingness to critique us and redefine our manhood. Just saying 🙂

    I KNOW that I’ve got a LOT to work on as a Dad and as a husband. Accounts like this help me move in the right direction. But most of the guys that don’t give a rat poop aren’t the ones reading this blog 🙂

    • July 14, 2009 1:07 pm

      Bernard… absolutely. You bring up an excellent point. I tried not to write this as if I blame my dad for all of my issues because I don’t truly believe that. I went from oblivious… to playing the victim… to somewhere on the long road to healing. Playing the victim certainly doesn’t help the situation nor is it inspiring. Perfect is impossible and grace cover a multitude of bad decisions. Sharing my story isn’t to say that my upbringing was common or that all men are scum. No. Mine is the extreme and hopefully stands a reminder and challenge for the good dads out there — to keep going. What they do matters…

  4. July 14, 2009 1:27 pm

    Crystal – Keep healing, keep sharing. What I DO want to do is learn from your story. I know you weren’t accusing men of scumdum (is that a word??? lol) but sometimes the “followup” to a story like this being told is to stereotype and generalize.

    I consider myself a pretty sorry Dad, and I really wouldn’t want to be my kid. But I still love mine dearly and try to tell them that every chance I get – twenty times a day if I can. The problem usually comes when they don’t get what they want – whether it’s attention, stuff, or permission – and they conclude that if I LIKED them, I would do everything THEIR way. You and I know that if I do that, they will likely wind up as pretty rotten adults. Yet, if your story is read in the wrong way, the easy over-reaction is to affirm everything a child does so that he/she doesn’t feel unloved or unapproved. The struggle for a Dad is how to convince a child that he / she is loved while still maintaining the necessary line of respect and obedience. Respect and obedience is not natural to a child, and anyone that thinks it is either doesn’t have children or has been blessed with exceptionally compliant offspring. Discipline, correction, and guidance – often tainted with the word NO! – doesn’t leave a child feeling approved and loved, and it leaves me, as a father, continually paranoid that my children don’t believe me when I tell them how much I love them. They attach “making me happy” to “loving me” and if they feel otherwise, I see that as having long term risks.

    All that to say – approving and affirming a child appropriately is good, but sometimes it’s a hard line to walk.

    Your prayers for “us fathers” are appreciated, too 🙂

    • July 14, 2009 2:31 pm

      bernard – i totally understand what youre saying. there is definitely a balance needed. what i spoke to in my post last week on men was a follow up from the week before where i spoke to women. but the “men” post struck quite a chord with a lot of women. suddenly they began sharing and expressing all this inner turmoil and pain. and so…i asked crystal to share here. i think crystals story is great in that she paints the picture of her childhood, paints the picture of the person it formed her in to being, then painted the picture of her decisions as a result but ultimately admitting those were her choices still. its hard, thats for sure.

      i agree with you as well, bernard, that we can not play the victim and blame everything on someone else. that was a lesson that took me years to learn. and im so glad crystal has learned that too.

      i do not wish for a daddy to read anything on this blog and feel like they have to go to the opposite extreme just so as to not offend their child or make them unhappy. with deep and safe love also must exist firm and loving discipline. but this isnt only a fathers responsibility. it is equally the mothers. no doubt there.

      “The struggle for a Dad is how to convince a child that he / she is loved while still maintaining the necessary line of respect and obedience.”

      right on. you nailed it there. its a hard thing to master.

      it sure isnt easy being a parent. and the stories that have been shared here last week are a testimony of the lasting effects of uninterested, unloving and abusive fathers or husbands. they do exist. but there are also ones, like you, who care enough to be the best daddy they can be. that recognize the importance of their role as daddy. thank you!

  5. July 14, 2009 7:53 pm

    Bernard – much respect for your thoughtful comments and the way you appear to be handling your role as a man and father in today’s society – one that sends very confusing and conflicting messages to the male of the species (as it does to the female also) as to how they ‘should’ behave.

    i would encourage you to keep up the difficult but rewarding effort you have been doing so far and do your best to be the MAN you would most like to be – not comparing yourself with other people’s perceptions, or what your friends might be like or do, but what you and He tell you is right.

    we may never get it perfectly right in every case but we are to continue to try to do the best each one of us is able to achieve while knowing that we will make the odd mistake no matter what.

    Hopefully, we learn from them and adjust for the ‘better’ (in time).

    You may find it helpful to make a list of things you believe you need to live up to in life and check your progress regularly and if necessary rewrite the list where initial thoughts prove later to be not as appropriate as they seemed at the time.

    but it sounds like you are doing beter than many already.


  6. July 14, 2009 10:04 pm

    ugh. SO SO SO SO SO SO GOOD. so good.

    and that quote from Stasi’s book…. I totally need to read that book b/c I think she stole that from my journal at 15 years old. 😯 😉

    • July 15, 2009 6:27 am

      I *highly* recommend “Captivating” as it opened my eyes a lot to how God designed relationships to be… and the damage that can be done when our emotional needs in those relationships aren’t met. But ultimately, that above all of our experiences here on earth… GOD is the true knight of our lives and that He truly delights in us.

  7. July 15, 2009 1:30 am

    OK OK, you see Emotional abbsence of a Dad is abusive in nature also
    It is time to wake up, or the heart and soals of our Kids will be gone.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Peace and love

  8. July 17, 2009 8:10 pm

    crystal, great job on this post.
    it is so relatable to so many young girls in this generation, and the ones before it.
    and so relatable to me.

  9. Katie permalink
    July 20, 2009 12:37 pm

    Wow! You put into words what I have been feeling and unable to make clear for so many years. Having a similar upbringing with a Dad that was emotionally absent I am finally beginning to recognize from a mature perspective how that will impact me forever and what I need to do to stop playing victim and heal. THANK YOU for your raw and honest thoughts on the issue. There are unfortunately way too many young women who can relate. Prayers for us all as God helps us heal and find our love in Him first and foremost.

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