There is a special bond that is formed between fathers and their daughters. The phrase “daddy’s little girl” has been coined to describe the relationship formed, and can be used throughout a daughter’s lifetime. The impact of a dad often shapes how young women begin to date and view the opposite sex. A strong bond can help her develop a healthy vantage point and standards for dating and partnership. However, the lack of a father’s presence can leave girls filling a void with substitutes for the real thing.
Detroit mother Asia Wallace has three daughters; Alyssa, age 6, and twins Amiya (baby A) and Amira (baby B) aged 4. Also a twin herself, Wallace has been on both ends of the fatherhood spectrum and understands the impact fathers have on their daughters.
From rocky beginnings, Wallace and her own father dealt with barriers in their relationship. Struggles with substance abuse kept her father at bay. However, time, healing and recovery brought them closer. However, tragedy would strike and shorten their time together.
“I didn’t really have a relationship as a child with my dad. He was on drugs. I knew who my dad was, but my mom kept us away from that situation, not so much my dad, but the situation. Once he got clean and I was older, the relationship with my father was amazing up until the day he passed. I was the one to find him at home. He had a heart attack,” says Wallace.
It is often said daughters date men who emulate their fathers. The similarities, rooted from early childhood, grow with a daughter and could mean a healthy example of what to do and not to do in relationships.
“My dad was kind of vocal and I would talk to my dad when I started dating and he told me to make sure the man respects me. My kid’s dad is just like my father. I guess you fall in love with a man like your dad because that’s the first man you love,” says Wallace.
Now, the mother of three is determined to ensure her daughters are full of love from their father. When the couple welcomed their first daughter, Alyssa, Wallace wanted the dad to be there every step of the way.
“I wanted him to be hands on. Very hands on. I didn’t want him to miss a minute. I was in labor for six days. He was at the hospital every time I went to the hospital. I wanted him around. It was my first child and his first daughter. I wanted her to see his face and know who he was,” says Wallace.
Welcoming twin daughters in 2017, the couple’s family quickly grew and so did the children’s father’s heart. The girls maintain a close relationship with their father
“They love him to death. They tell him about himself if he does something wrong. They’ve changed him. He’s never been a really affectionate guy, but now he’s super emotional and affectionate. I’ve witnessed a total change in dynamics with him,” says Wallace. “They can’t go by without daddy. I love their relationship.”
Society often fights the narrative of Black fatherhood. Gone are the days with positive Black father figures sprinkled on popular television shows. Portraying African American fathers to be absent, unloving or unwilling to raise their children, the world at large seems to point a finger at Black fathers and their shortcomings. This leaves fathers who are present each day feeling the weight of generalizations and stereotypes.
“It’s the stigma. Most of the Black men are incarcerated or they have to find other ways to make money. The dynamics of fathers have definitely changed from way back in the day when the dad was the breadwinner to single mothers,” says Wallace. “So, they just get a bad rep because of past stigmas, but I have definitely witnessed some great men being fathers, being men and being examples to their seeds.”
A 2019 study conducted by National KIDS COUNT from the Annie E. Casey Foundation determined that almost six million African American children are being raised in a single parent household. Pew Research shows the majority of single-parent households, 53 percent as of 2017, are female-led. The same data suggests just 12 percent of single parents are fathers.
Fathers who have created children, but are not actively involved, are encouraged to do what is best for their child. As circumstances with adults shift, children can sometimes be left hanging in the balance.
“If you make a child, you should definitely be a part of the child’s life no matter if the mother and father are not together. The child is the main focal point and priority,” says Wallace.
Fatherhood is an important role, despite the gender of the child. Shaping the life of an offspring and empowering the next generation to success through healthy bonds is key in the success of each child and the overall emotional health and wealth of the Black community.