I Never Had A #GirlDad, But It’s Okay
Text TeamCLEO Contributor | Featured Image Photography Joseph Martinez/Picture Lux/TPG Images
It’s heartwarming and also kind of sad that in this digital-fuelled era, we’re so trend-driven and hashtag crazy that it takes a tragedy like the one that involved the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter, GiGi Bryant, to ignite something that should already be the norm. What I’m talking about – the #girldad hashtag and what belies it.
Fathers are going out of their way to pay homage to Kobe Bryant by sharing photos of themselves with their daughters under the hashtag #girldad. It was sparked when ESPN anchor Elle Duncan recalled an encounter she had with Bryant when she was pregnant with her daughter. When she told Bryant she was expecting a girl, he responded with a high-five and told her, “Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing.”
Duncan asked Bryant how he and his wife would feel about having a fourth girl. He replied, “I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”
Since then, the story sent twitter waves throughout the Internet, as proud fathers started sharing photos with their kids and the hashtag as their way of honouring Bryant. Of course, this is very cute and uplifting and hopefully inspiring to a lot of men who are fathers to female children. And of course it’s heartwarming to daughters who are the recipients of this sort of love that’s rare, unique and actually very necessary to a girl’s growth and development.
“I had a dad, and I still have a very good dad, but he was just not a #Girldad.”
(I mean, we all surely are familiar with the term ‘daddy issues’ which usually culminates in response to women who are careless or foolish with their relationship/life choices due to the absence of a father figure in their lives.)
While I could wax lyrical about why fathers in particular do not need to have a specific reason or recognition for being a dad to their daughters (like, just do it? What’s stopping you? Society?), I will let this one slide. In fact, let’s just appreciate it for being heart-touching.
But I’m going to come out and say this: I didn’t have a #Girldad.
I had a dad, and I still have a very good dad, but he was just not a #Girldad.
I’m a big girl now and I’m coming to terms with it, and while I couldn’t have said this properly before, I’m already okay with that fact.
I didn’t avert my eyes when this hashtag blew up everywhere. I can appreciate that other girls, women, daughters, do have Girldads and that is their gift to them. So in this culture of comparison, you’re always going to compare what other people have that you lack; while people compare with what you have and they don’t.
I resisted the chance to dwell on what I lacked. Because I know I’m not the only one. So even if you didn’t have a Girldad too, it’s okay.
Let me just reiterate – I don’t think he was a bad dad, it’s just that because he never took those extra steps to bond with me, we just don’t know each other very well, and he doesn’t understand me.
I’m the only child so perhaps this was something that wasn’t written in the manual. Parenting is not easy and no, nobody knows what they’re actually doing. Also, I grew up significantly before the Internet, so there were no hashtag movements that could ease a mother or father into knowing what a child really needs.
My parents worked so that they could provide for me and that was their way of parenting. I would have loved more quality time but they were mostly on the road, and/or tied up with more business.
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Kobe posted a lot about his children, and seemed like a committed, doting father
I would have loved for him to brush my hair or tie it up for me for school. Or do the menial daily things together. Or to cook together. Or to talk about our days. Or have a hobby or bonding activity, like a weekly morning jog or morning bike.
What was my favourite music? Who did I admire when I was growing up? What were my true interests or what do I really love doing? Even after 27+ over years on this earth, I don’t think my dad would know how to answer this.
I didn’t have a Girldad but I was lucky enough to have a father who was still around and still did everything he did for the family, even if it wasn’t with the quotient of time, or with truly knowing me or seeing me or acknowledging me.
So it boils down to coming to terms with it.
I’ve come to terms with it, and it’s okay for you to too.