Monday, April 6, 2015

The Daddy-Daughter Dance

My dad is, was, and always will be a pretty brusque and impatient person. He certainly wasn’t much for the whole “my daughter is a princess” dynamic, and I guess there were some pros and cons to that.

On the one hand, our relationship was a bit aloof. When I’d get hurt playing sports, he’d say, “Rub some dirt in it.” When I’d fall down and get the wind knocked out of me and start crying that I couldn’t breathe, he’d say “If you can talk, you can breathe.” When I’d use “up-speak,” as described in this prior post, he’d say, “You’ll never make it in the world if you turn every statement into a question.”

My dad could be overly-critical of my appearance in ways that felt sexist and old fashioned sometimes, but on the other hand, I think he sent a pretty firm message that I could do/be anything I wanted, even as a girl. The fact that he was married to a doctor who made more money than he did at a time when that was very uncommon and highly frowned-upon was evidence to me that he believed it.

One thing my dad definitely never did was take me to a “daddy-daughter” dance. I also never had a wedding where he walked me down the aisle or danced with me or anything like that. None of that stuff was his style, but even if it was, I’m not sure I would have liked it.

Perhaps it’s because my dad was so dismissive of the “you’re my little princess” dynamic that I’ve always found the whole idea of the “daddy-daughter dance” a tiny bit creepy and weird. A little girl gets all dressed up, and basically goes on a “date” with her dad? What the wha? It seems rife with Freudian psychodrama.

Yeah, I know these are cute and innocent little events that make for adorable photo ops and a fun, memorable evening of father/daughter bonding. But the subtext seems really off-base to me. Like, here’s your little dressed-up doll, and you’re going to parade her around for an evening in this quasi-romantic way, and then someday she’ll be a bride, and you’re going to transfer ownership of her to the care and custody of some other man? 

It all seems kind of "yuck" to me on a number of levels.

That being said, my husband is definitely the type to rally for a daddy-daughter dance, and I know my daughter would love it. My daughter does Girl Scouts, and I think they have one of these. I certainly would never try to police their relationship by trying to stop them from attending, because I’m sure they’d have fun. But as a general matter,
 I’d prefer to see my daughter and her dad develop their relationship in other ways, like the ways they already do: building stuff, biking, camping, skiing, sledding, and art. 

That sort of father-daughter bonding seems more authentic to me, and less like a creepy re-enactment of a Disney Princess movie.

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