I’ve always tried to never generalize and impose my viewpoints on certain matters on the people around me. I hope to continue on in that fashion, hence why I titled it why I need my father, instead of every black girl. Those of you reading my project Dating My Dad: Our Journey to the Alter, know that my relationship with my father is inconsistent, heartbreaking, joyous, and at best, bittersweet. So when my SHE Founder asked me to write about why black girls need their fathers, I must say I was taken aback. I’m looking at the email like, “I know this is a typo, that can’t be my name next to this subject!” But of course it was. You see she likes, no loves, to push my comfort levels.
So I begin to write this post and then I stop and delete. And then write again. And delete again. And then I call my mom. And we talk and reflect and then I hang up and write again. And after days and days of trying, and I mean really trying y’all, I finally get some stuff, some really good stuff written down. So here are my reasons why I need my father.
To tell me to look for a partner that is better than him, not like him.
My dad has a distinct look. He’s very tall, very dark and very handsome. An “All Black Everything” kind of man. He’s charming and very funny. He’s mischievous with a devilish grin. He’s got a different car every other time you see him and his way of living was always curiously well paying without much time commitment. He was the life of any and all gatherings, anybody who was anybody knew who my father was. Being with that kind of attention as a young child was intoxicating. I felt important. Everyone treated me well and I always had a sense of pride.
So when I began to date, I was absentmindedly looking for my dad’s attributes and characteristics in others to make up for his absence. So I was in return dating the local “D boys” and those sly pretty boys, who ain’t got nothing good planned for you or themselves. It took me years to realize that anyone who remotely reminded me of my dad was probably not worth my time. When I was young that may have been cute and kept the gossip going, but as a growing young woman pursuing a college education, the bullshit had to stop somewhere y’all.
So then I went to the other extreme: dating people who were nothing like my father. Nerdy, transparent, nothing to do, low on the radar and not a care in the world about whether or not they had this or that. That worked for about two seconds! Instead of my dad looking into the relationships that I had, taking note and observing my happiness and overall life satisfaction with this person, he just sat back watched me get my heartbroken.
We never had the talk about who you should date, what to look for and why. He never gave me an inventory of “India’s qualities, behaviors and tendencies” and what type of person would match me. He never said, “don’t look for me in your partners honey, because I wasn’t made to love you as a man, but as a father.” Or to say, “I’ve made mistakes as a man, that no man will ever do to you because I’m going to tell you how to spot those men from a thousand miles away. Look for someone that’s better than me in areas that affect you, so they can make up that difference that you need.”
To tell me I matter.
There were many days I spent as a child waiting for my dad to show up for a birthday, a performance, or just a daddy-daughter date. I remember one time with so much clarity that it still hurts. I was about 8 or 9 years old, my dad told me he was coming to visit and that I needed to get ready. So I go and get my new clothes out and I brush my hair so I’m as neat and cute as can be. I remember brushing and brushing my teeth, because I wanted my naturally-brown tinted gums needed to be pink as possible and my teeth needed to be as white as possible. I remember hurting because of the extreme and extensive brushing, but he didn’t show.
That was the first time, but not the last, that my mom told me that him not showing up means that he is missing out. Since he never took any consistent interest in me or what I had going on, I’ve always downplayed any achievements that I accomplished. I still have issues genuinely accepting compliments and praise, because while my mom did it as much as she possibly could, I felt because I did not have that other paternal support, that it wasn’t good enough. When in fact it was. I am now learning on my own, with the help of my fiance and a few trusted loved ones, that I have so much to be proud of and that no one is in charge of my happiness, but me. If they choose not to come, they’re missing out, but what I’m doing, accomplishing and becoming Still Matters!