Southern Sister: My father’s daughter


FATHER’S Day has come and gone, and perhaps it is just my imagination, but I don’t seem to sense the same level of hype and attention as that surrounds Mothers’ Day.

Southern Sister by Thembe Khumalo

Part of the reason for this may be the fact that women are quicker to verbalise their feelings (I’ll be asking you more about this in coming issues) while men are more reticent in articulating their emotions. Another reason may be the level of marketing associated with Mothers’ Day, which is greater than that surrounding Father’s Day.

There is not a chance in hell that I will ever be the father of a girl, but I know enough to know that that role is significantly different from being the mother of a girl. I imagine it to be much more awe-inspiring, more fun, and more puzzling and confusing.

A smart man who runs a father-daughter blog ( sent out the question: “What do you really want from your dad?” to a number of high school girls, and these are some of the responses he received:

  • To be supportive in everything that I do, and know that when I’m pushing him away that’s when I need him most. To give me great advice!
  • I just want the endless love and support my daddy gives me
  • I want to be able to say: “When I grow up I want to marry a man who loves me like my dad loves my mom
  • I want to know that my dad is proud of me, and loves me for who I amA “perfect” dad in my eyes is one that sees their little girl as the most beautiful girl they have ever seen. They also have to trust their daughters
  •  Attention, positive feedback, engage in their life. This is simple, but always tell them you love them
  •  I wish he would come ask me about things in my life more than me having to initiate conversations
  • Tell me he loves and cares for me, so I know I have at least one person out there who does.

I don’t know what my response would have been if I had been asked the same question as a teenager, but I know that my teenage self would not have recognised the sometimes monumental effort my father was making to reach out to me, the tremendous sacrifices he was making to afford me a better life, the limitations that society and tradition had placed on his ability to communicate with me as he or even I would have liked, and the endless, ever-present worry about whether I would turn out OK.

The beauty of hindsight is that it gives you new insight into events that remain the same except for the reasoning around them.

Although my father used to wander around the house quoting: “A troublesome thing is a daughter to own” (which irritated my sister and I to no end), we are now acutely aware that he was deeply preoccupied with ensuring that we established robust reasoning, independent spirits and a reverence for God.

He invested much more in the development of our character than we ever realised and today I am deeply moved by his foresight and self evident devotion.

So if I were to answer the question today, I would simply say that everything my father gave me, is exactly what I needed. Thank you baba!

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