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A Father's Day Letter to His Daughter

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My dear sweet daughter,

The moment I laid eyes on you, I fell deeply in love. You cannot imagine that deep feeling of a love for anyone until you have children of your own. I knew from those first few days, weeks and months that I had an enormous challenge ahead of me. I've always said it takes a real man to father a self-confident daughter. And to raise a strong young black woman in this society, that responsibility fell directly on me.

You see, my dad was never around. I barely know him to this day, which is extremely sad to me. But as an adult, I began to understand his pain too. I know that he never learned from his dad how to really father a child. The pressures on him growing up in a racist society must have been horrendous, and he, not knowing otherwise, continued the tradition.

I vowed never to be like him when I eventually had children of my own. Yet, I too had no one to teach me, so I've had to learn on my own. I hope that I have been a good father to you thus far in your life. I so try, but I know I make many mistakes. At times, I don't feel that I am very good at it, especially raising a young woman. I am dealing with the pressures of being a black man in America while reconciling and contending with my own sexism as a man. I've always said it takes a real man to father a self-confident daughter. You are definitely there at this age, but my influence will show in time when you get older. I hope that I can succeed for your sake.

Now as you grow into your teenage years, I am caught in a new and added struggle -- the struggle to maintain a sense of father-ness, in the midst of the crisis between your mother and I. I need to apologize, sweetheart, for letting my frustrations with your mother get the better of me. You do not need to hear our vicious attacks on each other. I believe the pain and hurt I feel regarding the limited time I see you both is mounting on my psyche.

I cannot image how you must feel, sweetheart, caught in the middle of this mess, witnessing and learning that such behavior is acceptable. Shame on us both! I will do better just as I've asked you to do regarding your relationship with me.

Now I am not there to see you grow up. You were pretty much out of my daily life when your mom left. I am not upset that she left, but the way in which you were stripped so suddenly from my day-to-day life has left a deep wound. You physically have your mom everyday of the week, and I only get you in my memories. I've missed out watching you grow up. My time to catch a glimpse of it in a sustained way is the summer months. The summers provide me that opportunity to reconnect with my girls that I adore and miss all the time.

I am saying all this to convey as deeply as my spirit can muster that I need you in my life. And as much as I need you, I feel that it is equally important, if not more so, that you have me in your life. Please know that I love you and gotchya back. Dad