Modeling Our Fathers

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Truth.

In the past few years, I’ve given a lot of thought to how women look for a reflection of their fathers in their ideal mates. Sometimes it’s not readily seen.

So when your father is abusive, controlling, manipulative…are you damned?

That’s a question I’ve struggled with. I’m trying to focus  more  on  things  about  him  I  loved  when  I  was younger—on those trips to  town  when I was a tiny girl and he made me feel he was so proud of  me and was showing me off like a prize, when he truly appreciated me for who I was and I didn’t have to prove my worth be- cause I was on a pedestal in his eyes, when he was smiling and friendly and excited, when he was sociable and knew people and knew things, when there was a bit of boyishness in him and joy. As an adult, I better know now why he was those things then, but as a child, I saw it differently.

Those are things I find appealing in a man, and if I must model my preference for a man after some aspect of my father, then these are the facets I will aim for.

But what about me and whom I’ve modeled myself after?

I never wanted to be like my dad, so I took the other extreme and emulated my codependent mother. I’ve been undoing that programming,  standing up for myself, saying no a lot, not taking care of everyone else at my own expense,  being more  demanding  about having  my own needs met. So I’m less likely now to  be a clone of my mother.

I don’t want to be a clone of my dad’s mother, either.

She took the dominant female mentality to its harshest, most jagged   manifestations—domineering,  controlling, with nary a glimmer of nurturing…at least that I ever saw in all the times I was with her growing up or all the times I hugged her and got absolutely no physical response, not even a grunt. No sign of mothering or nurturing toward me or toward anyone else that I ever saw…ever, ever. It’s hard for me to accept my in-control  side and my dominant traits because of my feelings for her, because I don’t want to accept that I have anything in me that  vaguely resembles her.

So I’m looking for that happy medium where I’m not the doormat my mother has so often been and I’m not the cold, heartless sadist my father’s mother always was. I’m me, with a nice mix of being loving but being in control of my environment and my life.