Sometimes I start writing a blog and something else begins to weigh on my mind as in this case. The recent nationwide manhunt for Tad Cummins has awakened some feelings that I rarely speak about. You see this could have very well been father – my family. The story that touched my family was not national news but it did in fact make front-page headlines. I have written about this before but not from this perspective.
I know EXACTLY how Tad Cummins’ daughters feel. My heart truly weeps for them.
As a daughter of a man who did something very similar, I can say that you never quite get over being disappointed by your father in this way. You never quite get over feeling ashamed of your father and your last name. You always hope that people won’t think less of you because of what your father did. The truth is that there are many victims in a story like this. I am not sure that I ever really considered myself one (a victim that is) until this story recently came up in the news and I was forced to relive it.
First let me say before I go further, there are some amazing fathers of daughters on my social media accounts. Some of which I have never met but can sense the love, devotion, and fatherly instinct of protection by their posts alone. It makes me proud to see these kind of stand up men. Men of character. Men of integrity. Perhaps these are things that might seem normal or common to most daughters, so much so that it gets taken for granted and easily overlooked because it is just considered a father’s responsibility.
Daughters if you have this kind of father, one who cherishes you, places you on a pedestal, takes care of you, treats you like a princess, shows you how a man should treat a woman, and makes you feel safe – let me tell you that you are blessed beyond measure. Not all of us were so fortunate.
Dads allow me to take a moment to speak directly to you. You matter. Your example matters and makes an impact either way – good or bad. How you treat your daughters is something that they will carry with them throughout their lives. You set the bar. Either your daughter will hold you in such high regard that it will be hard for any future love to measure up or she will constantly be looking for someone to love her and cherish her as you should have. Teach your daughters by example what it feels like to be respected by a man. By you doing so, she will learn to respect herself. She will feel like she is settling if a man treats her any less that you have. Affirm your daughter’s worth with your words. Tell her she is beautiful and smart. Let her know that she is one of a kind and no one compares to her. This is very important! If you don’t she will be seeking approval her entire life – from someone.
Girls want to be princesses! We want to feel safe – especially in our father’s arms.
How do I know? I was not one of the fortunate ones. In my early years, I worshipped my father. I thought he hung the moon. I always waited for him to get home from work with excitement. He wore a military uniform and always had shiny shoes that he would let me stand on as he danced me around. I wanted to sleep in nothing but my dad’s t-shirts. We were buddies – pals. How quickly that all changed when my father crossed boundaries that are completely inappropriate for a father/daughter relationship. I never felt safe around my father again.
It did not stop there. I am sure that many of you have read about the Tennessee school teacher that left his wife and family and ran off with a 15 year-old student. The main two differences between that story and my father’s is that my father was the girl’s boss and he did not run off with her although I would not be surprised if he had considered it. My parents were separated, my mother in a mental institution, when I walked in on my father with an underage girl in our shower. As I recall that moment, I can still feel the same shock and disbelief. Wanting to leave but my feet were too heavy. Honestly, I can still barely process that moment.
My father insisted to me that what he was doing was not wrong. He expressed that they were in a “relationship” and “in love.” My father used guilt, bribery, and manipulation as tools.
By his behavior, my father taught me that women (young girls) are merely objects and not worthy of respect.
I spent numerous years dealing with the negative effects of my father’s influence. I am certain that everyone that was a part of my father’s story has as well. These kinds of men are very selfish individuals. They simply did not consider anyone other than themselves in their actions.
You might ask if I have forgiven my father. Yes, I have forgiven but not forgotten. I do not think you can forget something that plays a significant part in altering your life.
Dads of excellence I commend you. Do everything possible to remain your daughters’ hero. Your daughters will reap the benefits of your character and devotion to them each and every day of their life – even if they do not always tell you. Guard your reputation so that your daughters will feel proud of you. The weight of feeling shame and embarrassment due to a father’s poor decisions is very heavy and it never truly goes away.
I have found unconditional love and respect. I have officially become the princess that I always wanted to be as both a daughter of Christ and wife of my husband of character – a man of God. I feel safe in both of their arms.
Until Next Time,