Daddy's Little Girl

Created by susan on 2019-06-12 14:39:37


Have you ever received or given a butterfly kiss? It is an affectionate gesture made by fluttering the eyelashes against someone’s skin or eyelashes. Butterfly kisses date back to the mid to late 19th century and in 1863 a story was written in an English literary magazine Cornhill where a butterfly kiss was used to describe a gentle, imperceptible kiss with the lips rather than the eyelashes. A butterfly kiss likens eyelash fluttering, and the sensation it causes, to the wispy gentle touch of a butterfly. Bob Carlisle released a song entitled “Butterfly Kisses” in 1997 and the lyrics characterize a father-daughter relationship, and butterfly kisses were used to express their love for one another. 

Father’s day is a gentle reminder that most of us want to be “daddy’s little girl” and showered with love and affection. However, when it comes to body image issues, many daughters and/or sons may have an estranged relationship or have experienced emotional/physical abandonment from their fathers via death or divorce. It is more common with fathers since after divorce the mother is typically the primary caretaker. In my bibliotherapy list I recommend For Better or For Worse for kids and parents who have experienced divorce by E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly. Emotional estrangement often leads to eating disturbances and I refer to this process as the “hungry heart syndrome.” Emotional dysregulation is where you suppress your emotions and eat to fill a void and/or restrict food intake as a form of being self-punitive. Research shows that if you are not in touch with your emotions you may not register hunger sensation or satiety.

Often times the father-daughter relationship is somewhat intellectualized with conversations based primarily on academic functioning (i.e., “What was your score on your history exam?”) or achievement oriented topics (i.e., “Did you win your tennis game?”). In my clinical experience, I have observed that most fathers have unconditional love for their children, but inquiries based exclusively on the aforementioned topics may set the kids up to be approval seekers in lieu of learning to validate their own self-esteem and body esteem. 

Parents may have experienced in their family of origin an environment where emotions were not freely expressed which results in emotional unavailability during adulthood. Be cognizant of the relationship dynamic and implement change because it could lead to you or your child seeking out a familiar relationship pattern and not being emotionally fulfilled. Make a list of personality traits in your family of origin and list parallels with relationships outside of your family system. If a parent projected their anger onto others in the family system and you walked on egg shells, you may gravitate consciously or subconsciously to others who displace or suppress their anger because it is familiar. Here are a few tips you may want to consider:

  • Compliments are great, but teach them to have self-efficacy (i.e., “You must feel great about the fact that you practiced and performed well at your piano recital”).
  • Ask them what they think or feel about an issue such as a movie, politics, or current events without judgement. 
  • Teach them to be a strategic and independent thinker so they can validate their own self-esteem and body esteem versus looking to others for a stamp of approval.
  • Make a concerted effort to build a relationship with your daughter or son. Research shows that girls land on their feet and adjust better than boys after divorce.
  • Avoid triangulation with the other parent since I truly believe that every dart you throw at your spouse or ex-spouse goes through the heart of the child.
  • Express your emotions by saying “I love you”, emoji’s, an E-card, a hug, or a butterfly kiss!”

Personalize your affection for your loved ones! My husband and I blow each other kisses, smack at the end of a phone call and say “I love you”! He does an annual paragliding trip to a new country with his buddies and he leaves personal notes like on my piano. The best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! I cook food from my husband’s native country, England like Sheppard’s pie and take him to our favorite English pub for fish and chips. Endearing gestures like butterfly kisses strengthen a relationship and that is a thumb’s up like for your self-esteem and body esteem.