Reddit user Bluemonday82 asked: 'Daughters of reddit: what's the biggest mistake dads make with their daughters?'
"Daddy's Girl, Daddy's Girl, I'm the center of Daddy's world..." ~ "Daddy's Girl" by Red Sovine
A lot has been written about the bond between fathers and daughters.
But there's always room for improvement, right?
And who better to offer constructive criticism than daughters?
Reddit user Bluemonday82 asked:
"Daughters of Reddit: what's the biggest mistake dads make with their daughters?"
"My dad and I recently talked about how he stopped showing physical affection when I hit puberty (20 years ago). He didn't know how to act because his sisters got treated inappropriately by others when he was young, and he wanted to be sure I never felt like that."
"It resulted in me never getting hugs or kisses on the cheeks anymore. He also didn't know how to talk about it in the past."
"But in the last years, he worked through so much of his rough childhood and really learned to express himself better. He apologized, and I said I understood and that his intentions came from a good place, that the only bad thing was all the hugs we missed out on."
"We hugged for a really long time after that, and we've been hugging extra tight ever since."
"So I guess what I wanna say is, don't treat your daughters differently when their bodies start to change. And always keep talking!"
"I'm so proud of my dad for the person he's become."
"For a while, I didn't wanna hug my dad either. Puberty was rough for me, and the adults in my life kept acting like it was just a phase."
"And I guess it was, but that doesn't mean it wasn't the most emotionally complicated and lonely period of my life. The feelings weren't less real."
"My dad and I struggled a lot. He didn't know how to express himself at all, and I was so overwhelmed I didn't know either."
"I also grew up with two autistic brothers who needed a lot of care and attention. I love them so much, but it resulted in me always looking out for them and never learning (until just a few years ago) to properly give space to my own inner turmoil."
"My brothers were never physically affectionate either. But once I got out of the heaviest puberty years, I did want that affection from my dad. For a while, male physical attention was a very complicated topic for me."
"A Christian upbringing also played a role in that cause as a young girl growing into a woman, it had a lot to say about how I should behave around men."
"Something important to add is that my dad's rough childhood not only made it hard to show love but also receive it. His journey started with the realization that he had no idea how to react to getting compliments."
"I think that's a thing that a lot of men (from his generation especially, but also younger ones) will recognize. Know that we are all deserving of love and kindness, especially from our loved ones, but even more so from ourselves!"
"My dad couldn't ever have grown this much without learning to really understand what that means. And diving into the withholding of love from his parents heavily impacted how he dealt with that himself."
"I'm so glad my dad and I could both grow and work through our issues. Even if he couldn't show or say it, I never really doubted his love for me."
"But I know he would encourage you all to learn how to show and receive appreciation! That man is my example for people never being too old to learn."
"I'm sending love and strength to all of you who struggle with this in one way or another."
"And to the fathers who feel like their young kids don't want their affection, just know that this will most likely change again over time. They might act like they don't wanna hear it, but keep letting them know you're there for them."
"The one mistake my dad made was not really being present. A lot of the memories I have of him are him watching TV or being on the computer and not having time to play with me."
"He always said he’s too tired or he’ll come play later but then he never did. So since we never really bonded when I was little we weren’t all that close as I grew older either."
"Getting angry for something the kid doesn't know, and never teaching it. Not before and not even after getting angry.
"Doing something you know upsets the kid on purpose."
"Slamming doors and stuff in the house because you're angry."
"Not listening, and talking only to make themselves look smart and great parents rather than talking for helping."
"I'll never forget the time my dad saw me put something metal in the microwave. I don't know how old I was, but I know I needed to push a chair to the counter to even reach the microwave."
"He SCREAMED at me for several minutes about how STUPID I was and how he couldn't believe I would do something SO INCREDIBLY DUMB and was I trying to start a fire??"
"I had no idea you weren't supposed to put metal in a microwave."
"I did learn a few things that day- don't put metal in the microwave and don't do anything wrong in front of Daddy. Oh, but you won't know if was wrong or not until too late..."
"Didn’t have to look very far to find the description of my dad—especially slamming doors and hitting things loudly when upset while stomping all over the house."
"People always get a kick out of how jumpy I am (easily startled), but it’s reflexive from anticipating loud bangs/crashing that would come out of nowhere every day."
"My dad had such a short temper. He didn't necessarily hit me, but I got spanked til I was 9 years old and then my mom told him I was too old for that."
"But whenever he was angry (and that was a lot of the time) he'd scream and sometimes slam things."
"My husband slammed his hand onto the table a couple times during fights near the beginning, but realized he was wrong for acting like that, especially seeing how I'd immediately shut down. He's gotten much better."
Being Your Child's Bully
"Singing in a falsetto voice and poking until your autistic kid is screaming at you to stop isn’t 'fun' or teaching them to be less sensitive, it’s why they don’t ever want to hang out with you."
"Making fun when your small daughter is having big feelings."
"I got so furiously frustrated when my parents wouldn't listen to what I was trying to tell them and my dad just loooooved to mock my crying or squeaky 'upset' voice back at me."
"It made me so f*cking hurt and angry to not only be ignored and patronized, but actively MOCKED when I tried to communicate."
"Now as an adult I don't bother trying to share anything with them."
"Another classic was when I was disappointed and said, 'aww, man' he'd scrunch up his face, raise his voice three octaves, and 'AwW mAn!!' back at me."
"So now I wasn't just sad and disappointed, but sad, disappointed, and humiliated!"
"Imagine choosing to be your child's first bully... 😞"
Just a Girl
"Or from my experience—not even bothering to teach anything because Dad assumes his daughter wouldn't be interested because she's a girl."
"Worse—actively making sh*tty jokes about women not liking those things."
"Not having anything to do with their daughters because the dad 'doesn't have anything in common with a girl'."
"This goes double if a son shows up and the dad is really involved in the son's life."
Puberty Isn't a Disease
"My dad basically bailed on parenting once I hit puberty."
"Like, you think I’m enjoying this? It would have been great to have another supportive adult around."
"Same! What’s up with that?"
"I remember having a good relationship with my dad as a child but he emotionally cut me off and stopped hanging out with me when the boobs came in."
"I would be lying if I said that I’m past it and it doesn’t f*ck with my head still."
"Literally knowing nothing about their daughters lives."
"Those ‘funny’ videos where they ask fathers basic questions—like what their daughter's birthday, or eye color, or school is—and the dads have no idea are not at all funny.
"I love my dad but he can’t tell you anything about me—even the name of the place I’ve worked for over 6 years."
"One year when I was in elementary, my mom left a comically large piece of paper on the front door for my dad telling him not to forget to wish me a happy birthday."
"Not only did he not wish me a happy birthday, but he somehow didn’t see the gigantic sign when he walked in the house from work. So I got to read it when I got home from school."
"Sometimes I think about calling him to check in but then I think of that (and other complete fumbles) and then I just don’t."
"When I was in 4th grade, we did a Christmas recital where all the classes sung songs. My mom couldn’t make it because she had work so she sent my dad with the camcorder."
"He recorded the wrong kid. Very awkward watching the tape that night."
The original poster shared their reason for asking his question.
"Wanted to add that I'm a dad of a teen and that motivated me to ask this. The replies are just heartbreaking."
"I'm reading every single reply and I really hope all the dads and parents and basically everyone is learning something."
"Dad of an almost 4 year old daughter with two older brothers…. I’m scouring this post like there is cash on it somewhere."
"I’m doing the same thing, stepdad that adores both my boy and girl. Couldn’t have kids myself. Searching for gold on this thread."
And the daughters appreciated it.
"This is healing my younger self—knowing that there are fathers trying to do right by their young girls.
"I'm 25 now and I think if he just would have asked me how I was doing (and meant it) it would have changed me a lot."
"Same. My father was cartoonishly selfish, strict, controlling and mostly only saw me as a pretty, obedient mirror born to reflect his glory. What I thought, felt, liked, or wanted mattered very little and we seldom had what I would call 'real' conversations."
"Reading the posts of all the good fathers in this thread has been wonderful."
"I'm so happy there are tons of little girls out there with fathers who want to know them and see them for who they really are, who want to teach them things and bond with them."
"My father never wanted to get to know the real me, which is a shame because I'm a f*cking delight."
As the OP stated, hopefully everyone has used this opportunity to learn something.
Is there anything you would add?
In every relationship, there are bound to be some tough conversations, like how to budget and deciding whether to move somewhere new.
But there are other conversations, like getting a paternity test or going through someone's phone, that potentially imply a lack of trust.
Redditor BlueSharker asked:
"Women, would you care if your husband wanted to do a quick, basic, cheap DNA test to make sure the kids are 100% his? And why?"
"I love the wording of a 'quick basic cheap' test, like hey, it's no big deal, this is a totally normal quick little thing healthy strong couples do!"
"Like, Baby, it's no big deal. I just want to test the kids' DNA to make sure I can trust you."
"I just asked my wife this, and she said, 'I will rip your nads off and feed them to you if you want that d**n test.'"
"So yeah, they care."
Holy Insinuation, Batman
"Asking for this test either means:"
"1. You think I cheated on you but don't want to actually accuse me directly of it and deal with the fallout of being wrong which is both cowardly and insulting and also didn't work."
"2. You have been spending time on unsavory red pill internet sites and are dumber and more gullible than I thought when I married you and I've now lost all respect for your critical thinking skills."
"3. You don't want to be married or be a father to our kids anymore and are looking or an excuse to leave. Perhaps you are yourself cheating, or you are hiding some other secret or opinion from me and have been for a while."
"None of these scenarios are good. I would 100% be rethinking the whole marriage at this point. What else are you going to blindside me with and when? Probably better to just leave on my own terms than wake up one day and find you gone and all the accounts drained."
Lack of Trust
"I wouldn't be opposed to the actual request because I have nothing to hide."
"But the fact that he felt the need to ask 100% indicates his lack of trust in the marriage and that is the bigger issue that I would be seriously concerned about."
"That would generally be my same response to any hypothetical requests for my husband to look through my phone. Like superficially, I don't care. It's just memes and pics of our kids. But the inevitable longer form conversation that gets triggered by that is why is the trust gone."
Quiet the Haters
"I’ve offered it to my boyfriend for our one and only child to shut up all the naysayers in his family who were telling him it wasn’t his."
"And he said my offering is even more suspicious than not offering."
"Which, I don't know how the f**k that makes any sense, but whatever dude. The kid is yours. Do it or don’t. I don't care."
The Terrible Mother-in-Law
"My ex-husband’s mom was really weird about our firstborn not looking like him."
"He and I are very different in looks, where he’s black hair, and tan skin, and I’m strawberry blonde, and very fair."
"The son was born with brown hair and blue eyes."
"He tans a bit but definitely doesn’t look like his dad... because he looks like a darker-haired version of MY dad."
"The crazy s**t was, my ex was cheating on ME for most of the marriage and both kids are absolutely his because I don’t play stupid games."
Child Support Conspiracy
"My father tried telling everyone I wasn't his kid (I was conceived maybe a week or two before he got caught cheating on my mum)."
"My nan took one look at me and laughed in his face. She eventually convinced him to acknowledge me and pay his child support. I love my nan."
Going No Contact
"When my parents’ divorce started getting nasty, my father accused my mother of cheating, and that I was the result of it."
"He asked me over and over again to get a test and sure enough, I’m his biological son. He didn’t believe the result and kept asking me to do more tests."
"Among other reasons, I don’t speak to him anymore."
Taking the Estate
"I got my revenge on my dad's family who never believed I was his (my parents were together for 30 years but never married)."
"He passed away without signing his will. At his funeral, his sisters poked at my nose and pulled on my ears, questioning whether I was really their niece."
"So I got a posthumous paternity test done. The entire estate went to me and I didn’t give them a dime."
"I would not care. My husband found out late in life that he has a different biological father due to DNA testing and it crushed him. I would understand that the test has more to do with that circumstance than his trust in me."
"That being said, even after going through everything with his dad, he never tested our kids, but I told him multiple times to go for it and I’d be totally fine!"
"One of my best friend's dads bought her and her two sisters Ancestry.com tests only for her older sister to get a 'Congrats! You have a half-sister!' email after my friend’s results were submitted."
"Obviously, she called her dad like 'What the f**k is this,' and he had them retest the results twice."
"He had to be the one to break the news to my friend. He absolutely had no clue before this happened, and he broke down crying and told her that she was still his daughter regardless."
"We were 24 at the time, and I genuinely can’t imagine how it must’ve felt to be either of them receiving that news."
"Her mom even tried to deny it at first before finally coming clean."
Grocery Store Antics
"'Here's a picture of my kid' … 'and here is the DNA test proving it!'
"'Can I leave now, officer? He just likes to scream kidnap for fun…'"
"Sigh. I love taking them to the grocery store with me."
Dad Jokes Galore
"I recently discovered that none of our three children are mine biologically."
"I feel so stupid, I should have known something was up when they all existed before I met my wife."
"All kidding aside, as a stepdad, I do find it genuinely tragic when dudes completely abandon kids and withdraw all love because it's not theirs, not their problem. I understand complex emotions surrounding the marital betrayal, but I can't imagine just peacing out on a kid whose fault it categorically isn't."
What's the Point?
"Our kid looks so similar to my husband that her face unlocks his phone."
"Sure, do the test."
Not the Mother
"As a child, I overheard my Mom say to my Dad, referring to me: 'She is nothing like me. Are you sure you didn't cheat on me?'"
"I really never had much in common with my Mom, and at that age, I didn't know anything about how babies are made, so I thought she was serious and lived with that doubt for a few years."
While some people were able to make jokes or could otherwise point out why paternity testing had been helpful in their own lives, most were concerned about the lack of trust asking for a test implied.
There are people who spend their adolescence and early adulthood dreaming of being a parent.
And those people should have every opportunity to achieve that dream for as long as it remains a life goal.
Then there are people who never feel the pull to be a parent.
But society tends to only ask one group "why."
While asking any person that question is rude AF—seriously, don't ask people why they don't have/want children—the anonymous realm of AskReddit is a different environment where people can be honest with few repercussions.
So Redditor Ekudar asked:
"What made you not want to have kids?"
So much work...
"To be honest, I'm too lazy to be a parent."
"Plus I'm terrified of the idea of pregnancy and labor."
Know your limitations...
"When I realised that having a kid would mean that kid would have me as a parent."
"This lowkey scared tf out of me. Made me imagine myself being responsible for another human being… and all of their life experiences, and providing for all of their needs, and wants?
"Oh my God. No."
"Kids are an amazing treasure, but you have to be mentally, financially, and emotionally sound for them. Because it’s no longer YOUR life. You can’t transfer your bullsh*t onto them—because they’ll end up dealing with that when they’re older."Giphy
"In an ideal world, I’d love to have a kid. But pregnancy/labor scares me, I’m not mentally ready, not financially prepared, I like my alone time, I do NOT have the patience, I’m far too selfish, I can’t cook, and honestly—I love my cat more."
"In my head it seems nice. But that’s not reality. And that’s not fair to a human life. The maternal instinct is there, but my own selfish wants/needs right now outweigh any want for a kid."
Never my dream...
"I never decided to not have kids. Kind of assumes I wanted some then something changed my mind."
"I don't want kids because I never have wanted kids. I've never felt any longing or fondness for babies. No part of having children ever appealed to me."
"I don't feel the need to force myself to have kids despite all the pressure from family and friends, so I made sure I never had any."
"I'm broke and I hate noise."
"The sheer fact that I enjoy peace and quiet is enough.
"I love my godson and would die to protect him but I don’t want him living with me (godfather responsibilities aside)."
So much to worry about...
"Lack of freedom especially to travel, constantly worrying about someone else/being responsible for them, the state of the world, my own mental health stuff that can be genetic, knowing pregnancy is incredibly dangerous, having 4 friends very recently have their first children and seeing them miserable, the idea of forever being a mom."
"It's all overwhelming.
"Plus I see kids everyday with behavioral and mental health problems. I kinda just don't want to risk that being my kid."
"Raised my siblings."
...when people who probably shouldn't have had kids do...
"Ugh. Teaching them to read, acting as a lifeguard any time we were around water, trying to patch their wounds or reassure them school isn’t so scary…"
"My brother is dyslexic and my sister has a learning disability. I taught them both to write their names and would always help them with homework before working on my own."
"I don’t recall my parents being anywhere nearby in 95% of my childhood memories."
"I love kids but the stress of raising kids as a kid has deterred me from ever even considering that sort of responsibility again."
"My mother's mental illness left the lion's share of supervision and housekeeping to me at the expense of my own education (we also had not nearly enough resources for the number of children)."
"The despair of those years turned me off ever being responsible for a child again. I love my siblings with all my heart, but they nearly broke me."
Not my dream, Part 2...
"Honestly, no idea."
"Just never envisioned a future with children."
...and Part 3.
"The idea of having kids never entered my mind, unless other people brought it up.
"I married a woman who had mostly grown kids, so it was just a couple years of taking care of them and that was it."
"I have grandkids now, and every time they visit, I'm grateful I never had kids of my own. My stepkids are exhausted, broke financially, and always on the go."
"I'm more than happy to sit in my chair, watch movies, play video games, and max chill."
Society pressures people to procreate, but if it's not for you, then you do you.
Just say no to unwanted children.
Parenting isn't always fun. Parents may love their children, but frustration is normal and expected when raising kids.
Things get more thorny once the child is older, too. As a child grows and matures and develops their own personality, parents might find themselves sparring with their children more often than not.
But airing grievances—especially about one's children—can be considered taboo in some circles.
Redditor RoseyTreatsBakery asked the online community:
"What is your least favorite thing about your child?"
"It does annoy me."
My kid can literally talk non stop for hours. It does annoy me. Ive been making an effort to stop what im doing and just listen.
"They both think..."
Both of my children, actually:
They both think being in a lockdown/virtual school situation means they never need to bathe or use deodorant again.
"He is constantly..."
Sock balls. He is constantly making balls out of socks and throws them around endlessly. He never has any socks to wear because they are nowhere to be found due to constant sock balling. Drives me insane. It's a good thing he's cute and a really good kid. It could be so much worse at 15.
"I can correct a stubborn kid..."
How much he's like me. I can correct a stubborn kid, but when it's more like looking in a mirror... that makes it 10 times more irritating and I have no idea why.
"All of the things that annoy me..."
All the things that annoy me about my kids are traits they inherited from me. Apparently I'm pretty annoying.
Can I answer as an uncle that does more parenting of the kid than his deadbeat father? My nephew adores me. He's autistic, and I'm one of the few people who "gets" him, but it means any time I'm around he's attached to my side. That's fine, but he doesn't seem to be able to understand that he can just "be" around me without having to fill the silence. I'm cool with him playing his switch with my left arm around him while I browse facebook with my right. I like conversations, but he feels the need to always be talking, even with nothing at all to talk about.
Which means 3-4 times a day I have him pop his head up and ask whatever random question he can think of in the moment. Like "What would happen if Super Mario were blue" or "What if black holes weren't black holes?" or "What's your favourite type of.... um.... wall?" (All of these have been asked at one point).
When our son was two, he was a horrible eater and sleeper. Just very finicky with his food, and very difficult to keep asleep. We would get so frustrated and sometimes just be distraught with lack of sleep every night.
Then we went to the doctor. Turns out he had a minor structural issue in his mouth that made it very hard to eat solid food. He wasn't eating because he physically couldn't, and he wasn't sleeping because he was always hungry.
My stepdaughter has entered the phase of her life where she wants to know what we're doing at all times. Including when I'm sleeping/laying down. Two weeks ago I took a nap and she got into my face while I was sleeping to confirm I was still sleeping. The good news I'm happy to experience this now so I can prepare for it later.
"It's only been..."
Currently, it is the scream. Basically, she's just started the most godawful high-pitched scream whenever things are going badly for her, especially when she's frustrated or raging. It's only been the last couple of weeks and we're cracking down on it hard now, because if you banshee scream over minor things how do we know if something is really truly wrong when you do it? (Aka boy who cried wolf.) It's definitely slowed down in the last day or so since we got stern with her, so hopefully its ending but it was not a fun phase.
"She has some brave moments..."
My stepdaughter is afraid of everything. When I first came into the picture we couldn't even get her to walk past the Halloween stuff in Home Depot (she was 8), we can now get her in a Halloween store but she still won't go anywhere near the animatronics (she's 13 now).
She has some brave moments though, I gave her a staff that I had gotten from a ren faire to make her feel a little more safe. Now when she hears a loud or strange noise she'll come running out of her room with the staff, banging it into the walls and almost falling when she gets it tangled in her legs.
What's your most annoying thing about children?
But a recent Reddit thread zeroed in on one gender-based parenting stereotype in particular: the presumption that a father cannot be a equally present and hardworking parental figure as a mother.
Far from the absent, workaholics that populated 1950s movies, these guys love to take care of their children. They like to be vulnerable, teach good character, take care of necessary pieces of child-rearing, and simply enjoy fatherhood.
And yet they are questioned with subtle jokes and the proverbial elbow nudge.
The thread offered a safe haven for all the proudly present fathers out there. These modern patriarchs took turns slamming all the presumptuous onlookers they've ever faced.
"Not a dad myself, but an uncle. My sister in law is a mostly stay at home mom, but teaches a yoga class once or twice a week. My brother obviously has to look over his kids during that time."
"My parents constantly refer to that as babysitting... and it drives me nuts. I constantly interject, and tell them that that's just parenting, but there's just something the older generation doesn't get about that."
How to Silence a Room
"The line 'Yeah ever since their mum died' usually shuts them down pretty quick." -- Guerenica
"That's brutal. I love it." -- deadbass72
"'Actually, I kidnapped them... does that still qualify?'" -- Lemesplain
"I don't have any zingers like that, I usually just tell them that when they're your own kids, they call it 'parenting'" -- BigPZ
A Dad, Beard and All
"As a tall (6'4") and Large (300lb) quit hairy and bearded man with twin girls, when they were younger I got a lot of old ladies saying stuff like 'that man should NOT be with those little girls.'"
"Like yeah, f*** me for looking like sasquatch and having kids, right?"
"As they've gotten older, its got better. I don't get comments like that anymore. But if I take them to the park all of the moms avoid me."
Punished for Being Present
"I became a father at a young age (17) and when I would pick up my daughter and take her out for dinner just me and her--it's a weekly thing for us..."
"you wouldn't believe the dirty looks and rude comments I've received from people about being a creep especially when she was about 14 to age 20..."
"...she's 22 now, and now it has changed to other men giving me the thumbs up and basically saying nice job on getting a young lady, and they having absolutely no clue that I'm just hanging out with my daughter."
"My husband had dinner with this family while I was out of town once. They kept praising him and calling him just such a great dad."
"All because he didn't order alcohol at the restaurant. Because he didn't drive drunk with our kids. That's how low they set the bar for him. Meanwhile they have never called me a good anything."
"He is a good dad and yes, he was annoyed by this."
An Unwanted Title
"I don't know if anyone else gets this line often, but I do. 'Oh, looks like you're Mr. mom today' There's a word for dad. It's dad." -- deadbass72
"I have gotten that a few times."
"After the first time it happened, any time it had happened since, I've looked the person in the eyes and said, 'Yeah, she's Mrs. Dad today, we like to role play like that, kinky isn't it?' and then just continue what I'm doing before I was interrupted." -- masheduppotato
"I think a lot of mothers are annoyed by this too.. it makes it sound as if taking care of the children as solely 'her duty'..."
"...and if the father is being a father, that means she's slacking on her duties and using a 'baby-sitter.'"
Even the Infrastructure is Presumptuous
"To pile on, the worst is when you can't find a baby changing station in the men's room and there is no 'family room.'"
"I've straight up overtaken a women's room, so that I could change a diaper."
"I've never gotten that. However the amount of people that have seen me alone with my daughter and act as though I'm the only man they've seen spending time together with their little girl is literally insane to me."
"One woman insisted on buying our lunch because of it."
"I had this happen a few times when bringing my daughter places. She was 6 when we went I brought her to an auto race. This complete stranger who looks about the same age as me, with his younger girlfriend is leaning back on the seat a few rows down."
"He looks back and says, 'Let me guess. The ex wouldn't keep her this weekend?'"
"I was a bit surprised at the question. But I answered, 'Not at all. Just a father sharing his love of the sport like my father did with me.'"
"Then I held my left hand up and said, 'It's nice to know one of us hasn't failed at marriage or parenting for that matter.'"
"Didn't hear another word from him."
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