You Are Your Father's Daughter: The Nurture Every Daughter Needs--The Longing When It's Lostby Earl R. Henslin, Chelese Guthrie Palmer (Editor)
The revised edition of You Are Your Father's Daughter has a number of significant improvements. The entire text of the book was revised to improve the readability of the material. The author, Dr. Earl R. Henslin, wanted the book to be accessible to more readers. At the end of each chapter, Dr. Henslin has added a section titled A Closer Look. It is an opportunity for readers to focus on the key ideas and principles developed in the chapter. At the chapter's end there is also an opportunity for Personal Reflection. Dr. Henslin has provided questions that will help readers apply the material to their lives.
In the revised edition, Dr. Henslin has added an appendix to provide more information and resources for readers who would like to further pursue this topic or expand their journey toward recovery. The appendix begins with A Word on Brain Chemistry. This insightful addition helps readers understand that some problems exist because of imbalances within the neurobiology of a person's brain. Therapy and counseling may prove ineffective for some until they receive appropriate medical treatment.
Suggestions for Group Study and Support provides practical insight about organizing and conducting a small group meeting. Dr. Henslin answers some common questions and concerns about a small group. He has provided a Suggested Meeting Format, and added an important section titled Guidelines for Sharing to keep the meetings safe and nurturing.
An appendix for Recovery Resources is also included. It lists a number of organizations and groups that provide twelve-step recovery support for a number of problems.
A Suggested Reading List offers written resources and recommended reading for specific needs. May these pages provide you a pathway toward healing or improving your own father-daughter relationships.
May you begin a new journey toward recovery, wholeness, and hope. And may you understand that your healing journey is never a solitary road. Your constant companion is also your Creator the perfect Father.,,,
WHAT ADULT DAUGHTERS SAY:
“I picked up the book, and it became a mirror. I saw myself—my aggression, my anger, my deep sadness. And for the first time, I saw hope. Thanks.”
“That gnawing hunger now has a name. I tried to feed the wrong thing. The growling was in my heart, not my stomach.”
“My Dad is gone. He always was. I didn’t expect this to help. But I’d forgotten about God. He was still waiting. Thanks for the reminder.”
“I wanted to reconnect and tell him what I felt—what I needed. The fear never let me. These pages gave me a road map, and I followed it all the way to Dad.”
WHAT FATHERS SAY:
“The good doc did more than point to my problem. He pointed my path toward home.”
“I thought I’d lost my daughter—she was grown and gone. I didn’t think she needed me now. I’m so glad I was wrong.”
“Long hours and hard work—that’s how I showed my love. But it wasn’t about a fancy home. They needed a father’s heart.”
“I didn’t know these things. My daugher had needs that I’d never met or understood. She needed more than Mom. I was God’s man in her life.”
About the Author:
Dr. Earl R. Henslin is a licensed marriage, family, and child therapist. His Brea, California practice through Henslin and Associates focuses on marriage, family, and child counseling, and he conducts training sessions and seminars for professionals such as pastors, physicians, and therapists who work in these areas. He holds the doctor of clinical psychology degree from Rosemead Graduate School of Biola University, where he is a part-time instructor. He is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the Christian Association of Psychological Studies. Dr. Henslin is one the founders of Overcomers Outreach, a nonprofit ministry that assists local churches in establishing twelve-step support groups. Dr. Henslin networks closely with the Amen Clinic of Behavioral Medicine. He and his staff do assessments and evaluations for SPECT Brain Imaging Scans and follow-up care. Henslin and Associates provides outpatient treatment and networks with different inpatient treatment facilities for the treatment of adults concerned with codependency, incest, alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, sexual addiction, men’s issues, and other issues of dysfunctional families. A nationally acclaimed speaker, Dr. Henslin conducts seminars on these issues for churches, Christian Organizations, counseling centers, and businesses.
Other Books by Dr. Earl R. Henslin:
Secrets of Your Family Tree (co-author)
Forgiven and Free: Learn How Bible Heros with Feet of Clay Are Models for Your Recovery
Man to Man: Helping Fathers Relate to Sons and Sons Relate to Fathers
The Cliff’s Edge: Heaven Sent Help on a Harley—Hell Came in Other Ways
- Gorcey, Leo. Foundation, The Spirit of Hope Publishing
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Read an Excerpt
The daughter may not be able to identify the nature or source of her loss. She may feel a vague sense that something is wrong with her or that she lacks something. She's not pretty enough, athletic enough, thin enough, smart enough, sexy enough, or successful enough. So she may strive for these things, or seek the opposite. All to gain her father's attention. All in the hope that she might gain acceptance, approval, and ultimately his emotional involvement. The daughter's effort is futile certain to fail. A daughter is powerless to make an emotional connection with her father. To be legitimate and satisfying, the father must initiate that connection. Without the father's effort to connect, the daughter cannot heal or fill the emptiness in her heart. Still, the daughter will try. Mindless mistakes, painful patterns, and toxic entanglements will be repeated over and over. No effort, no self-improvement can quench the longing in her heart and meet the need she can't define.,,
It is the father's responsibility to build an emotional and spiritual bridge to his daughter. Reality, however, is that many fathers are unaware of this responsibility and their daughters' need. Even if they are aware of the need, most fathers have not experienced this kind of connection with their fathers. They have no idea how to connect with the heart of a daughter.
A father, who has not connected with his feelings, might believe he has a bond with his daughter. He may believe that his hard work, material provisions, and gifts are an adequate connection. These are expressions of his love--not the experience of an emotional and spiritual bond with her. Without an emotional and spiritual connection, the relationship between father and daughter is primarily an illusion. It appears to be a strong bridge that can weather the storms of life. In reality, it is a paper-mache bridge that will crumble when put to the test.,,
There comes a time in a woman's healing journey when forgiveness is important. But even the mention of forgiveness for a father can produce a powerful emotional reaction. Forgiveness is never easy. In some cases it seems impossible. Yet forgiveness does have its place. Christian women have experienced unconditional forgiveness from God the Father. They also understand the mandate to forgive as they have been forgiven. Still, it is not easy.
Part of the problem is a misunderstanding of forgiveness. Some people think that forgiveness condones the harmful deed. Others view forgiveness as a gift to the perpetrator and further punishment for the victim. Still others think of forgiveness as an open invitation for future abuse. Within some Christian circles, forgiveness becomes a vehicle of shame rather than the liberating force God intended it to be. All these views distort forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a divine gift. We have all wronged God and deserve to suffer the consequences of our sin. However, when we confess our sins to God, he promises to forgive those sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 God offers forgiveness freely because Christ paid the penalty for our sins through his sacrificial death on the cross. All that remains for us to do to receive God's forgiveness is to confess our sins. We get into trouble when we apply the divine model for forgiveness to earthly relationships. There are consequences for sin. There are consequences when a wound is suffered. No one who has major surgery goes out and engages in three hours of aerobics the same day. He or she must allow the surgical wounds to heal. In a similar way, emotional and spiritual wounds require time to heal. Forgiveness is a part of the healing process not a substitute for healing.
We are fortunate that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. He opened the way for healing in our wounded relationship with our heavenly Father. Because of his gift, our humble confession and sincere faith restore us to God. The consequences of harm done in earthly relationships require more than forgiveness. God forgives sin, but the consequences of wrongs done must be faced. We must not demand forgiveness from those who have been wounded through a relationship. This only adds shame. And it is wrong to assume that healing will instantly follow forgiveness.
Forgiveness and healing of human relationships are related, but separate issues. To understand the difference between forgiveness and healing, consider the following common misconceptions about forgiveness:
Forgiveness = Trust
Forgiveness = No Consequences, No Boundaries
Forgiveness = No Behavior Change, No Mention of the Past
Forgiveness = Trust
The story about Leo the Lion illustrates this misconception. Leo was the star attraction of the circus. Every night his trainer would put him through his paces and end the act by shaking hands with Leo. One night, however, Leo was a bit hungry, and grumpy too. At the end of the act his hunger turned to anger. He didn't shake the trainer's hand. Instead, he took a swipe at her arm. She was cut badly.
After the show, Leo said he was sorry, and the trainer forgave him. But the next night, the trainer didn't attempt to shake Leo's hand. "What's wrong with you?" Leo snarled. "I said I was sorry. Aren't you going to forgive me?"
"I have forgiven you," the trainer said. "I'm just not ready to shake your paw. I won't risk it until I'm sure your anger is in check."
Leo let out an angry roar and took another swipe at his trainer. This time, she was far enough away to avoid injury!
Many of us are like Leo. When we wrong others, we want forgiveness. We also want the relationship to be restored as soon as possible (which really means instantly). We are upset if trust isn't restored immediately following our apology.
Trust, however, is a result of time and experience, not a result of forgiveness. Trust grows out of the spiritual and emotional healing process. For some wounds, trust is restored rather quickly. For deeper wounds, the restoration of trust takes longer. A father who has wounded his daughter cannot expect the restoration of trust to occur on his timetable. The restoration of trust is in his daughter's hands a fact that can be difficult for him to accept.
Although a father cannot control the rebuilding of trust, he can control his behavior. And, as Leo the Lion discovered, his behavior strongly influences his daughter's ability to trust him. A father, like the emotional killer who denies or minimizes the impact of his behavior and continues to engage in behavior that wounds his daughter, is not trustworthy. His daughter can forgive him so that her feelings of hurt, anger, fear, or resentment do not harm her. But she would be foolish to trust him. For her own protection, she must maintain strong boundaries with him. Of course, not all fathers are stuck in denial. A father, who has discovered his own wounds and who understands how he has wounded his daughter, can make a commitment to his own healing and growth. Such a father is not perfect, but he will change. In time, his daughter can feel safe with him. She will realize that he is not the father he used to be. Her trust in him can grow as he grows.
Forgiveness = No Consequences, No Boundaries
A wound needs time to heal. Forgiveness promotes healing, but time is required. A wounded and vulnerable daughter may need to distance herself from her father. She is fragile and needs a season to rebuild trust. The daughter of an actively addicted or codependent father may need to set boundaries to protect herself (and perhaps her children) from the father. These consequences are not comfortable, but a necessary part of the healing process. The wise father, in this situation, will use the time to continue to grow spiritually and emotionally. He will prayerfully wait through his daughter's healing process.
Dorothy and her father experienced this situation. Dorothy's father was successful at work and a recognized leader at church. He was also a closet alcoholic. Her mother, a first-class codependent, denied that her husband even had a problem. Dorothy had been in recovery for some time. She had made good progress in healing from the hurt, anger, and shame of the double-standard household in which she grew up. Dorothy had pulled away from her parents early in her recovery. One day she felt strong enough to approach her father. She wanted to talk to him about what had been happening in her life. When she was alone with her father, she said, "I haven't been by to see you and Mom for a long time. I think it's time you know why I withdrew from you. I'm afraid of you when you drink. I always have been since I was a little girl. Somewhere along the line that fear turned to anger. I can forgive you for the past, and I ask you to forgive me for my anger. It was wrong for me to hold that against you for so long."
Dorothy's word struck deep in her father's heart. He looked down and searched for the word to answer her. He finally said, "I'm glad to know why you haven't come by. Thank you for forgiving me. Of course, I forgive you. Will you drop by again? Will you bring the kids? Can they spend a weekend with us soon?"
"I'd like to bring the kids, Dad, but . . . ." Now Dorothy looked down and searched for words.
"But what?" her dad asked.
"Well, I won't leave the kids. They can come, but only when I'm here."
"What are you saying?" he shot back.
"I'm saying that I want to be here when my kids are with you," Dorothy answered. Her gaze was steady her words strong. "If you are drinking or drunk when we arrive, we'll turn around and go home. And if you start drinking while we're here, we'll leave."
Her father stepped away. He struggled to find words, to fire back. "How can you say you that? I I I thought you claimed to be a Christian! You haven't forgiven me! You haven't forgotten anything! You're still holding it all against me!"
"Dad, I have forgiven you, but I haven't forgotten. You're not the same person when you drink. So if you choose to drink when the children and I are here, we will choose to leave."
When Dorothy left, her father was angry and her mother was in tears. Two months passed without contact with her parents. Then her mother called and asked if they could talk. Dorothy agreed. When they met, Dorothy asked her mother's forgiveness for the anger and resentment she had harbored against her.
Dorothy realized that her anger toward her parents had been a boundary to keep her safe. But her boundary of anger and resentment took a terrible toll on her. She had problems in her marriage, chronic headaches, and bouts with depression. Counseling and support groups taught Dorothy how to set boundaries without feeling angry. She learned that respect for personal boundaries is a characteristic of a healthy relationship. She learned that she could forgive her parents and still maintain protective boundaries. She could also set consequences for violations of those boundaries. When Dorothy met with her mother, they talked about the family and her father's alcoholism. Her mother began to realize the role that her denial played in the problem. As a result of their conversation, Dorothy's mother began to attend Al-Anon meetings with her. In time, her mother's recovery from codependency enabled the family to do an intervention with her father. It led to his recovery from alcoholism.
An intervention involves setting firm boundaries that are backed by serious consequences. It is not an easy action to take. In this case, as in many others, setting firm boundaries with stiff consequences are a necessary part of healing family relationships.
The change in her parents' behavior brought new consequences to the family. Dorothy, her husband, and her children could at last enjoy the kind of relationship with her parents that they had long desired. Boundaries and consequences do not negate or diminish forgiveness. They create an environment that allows forgiveness and healing to take place.
Forgiveness = No Behavior Change, No Mention of the Past
The word forgiveness is often used like a steamroller to cover up a multitude of issues. In practical terms, forgiveness often means, "Let's just go on from here as if this never happened. We're not going to talk about dirty laundry. What's in the past is in the past." There are two problems with this approach. The past is not dealt with. And there is no requirement for a change in behavior.
This is not true forgiveness. It is denial. Behavior must change for healing to occur. The past cannot be left unanswered.
Consider the dynamics of Elizabeth's relationship with her father, Bill, a work addict and an alcoholic. A dramatic change occurred when Elizabeth was twelve years old. Bill was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. While he sat in jail, he realized that his life was out of control. At that time, he asked Jesus to forgive him, and he made a commitment to change his life. When he was released from jail, his good friend who had shared Christ with him, steered him to a church that was supportive of recovery. He urged Bill to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous and Overcomers Outreach meetings. Bill grew in his faith and kept his commitment to sobriety. As he worked the twelve steps, he made amends to his wife and daughter.
Despite these changes, all was not well at home. When Elizabeth was fourteen years old, she started to express great anger and resentment toward her father. She had seen the change in her father and knew he was sincere. His effort to make amends made her feel worse. What kind of a daughter am I? she wondered. I'm still so angry at my dad! He's so much better than he used to be. What's wrong with me?
Bill was wise enough to connect her anger with his past alcoholism. He suggested that they see a counselor together. It helped. Elizabeth learned to recognize and verbalize her feelings. She expressed her anger and disappointment at the times he had broken promises to her. Through many tears, she talked about her fears: the terror of drunken fights with her mother, the panic when he left the house in a rage and drove away fast, and the dread that he might never come home again. "I'm so sorry," Bill said. Tears streamed down his face. "I never realized how deeply my actions had hurt you. I hope the day will come when you will be able to forgive me for what I have done." Bill offered no explanation, no excuses, and no defense. He simply acknowledged that he was guilty as charged.
Elizabeth released a flood of emotion. Years of sorrow poured out of her heart. She cried and sobbed and washed every gully clean with tears. I asked her if she would like her father to sit next to her and hold her. "No" she answered. "I can't trust him yet."
"That's okay," Bill said. "When you're ready, I'll be here for you." When Bill allowed Elizabeth to keep her distance, she immediately felt safer with him. She could feel that he respected her needs and her pain. "You can sit next to me if you would like," she added.
When Bill sat down near her, Elizabeth began to cry again. In time, she allowed him to hold and comfort her. In time, she was able to forgive him for past wounds. This emotional healing was possible because the wounds of the past were addressed and Bill's behavior had changed.
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