Thursday, September 9, 2010

fathers and daughters

Good morning,

If you know me, then you know that I read Dubois... A LOT. Yes, I am addicted to his works, I haven't gotten many secondary documents, but I read as much as I can get. Often, when he is talked about, we see him as a socio-political figure, and often forget that he was a husband and a father as well.

I have been reading his correspondence and I came across a beautifully written letter to his daughter, who was studying away at school. It is amazing and inspiring, and you can see the respect he holds for his daughter as well as excitement towards her future. He has confidence in her, and encourages to adopt confidence in herself.

Now-a-day, our daughters are so confused, and have major identity and self-esteem problems because they do not have a very interactive role with their fathers. This is not their fault, but the fault of the fathers who were and are supposed to be more present in their upbringing. One reason why many girls have no true self-worth of themselves, is because their fathers don't often encourage them to find within themselves that self worth. They need a sense of acceptance from both their parents, and especially from their fathers. Because of that lack of encouragement, many girls just hop from one guy to the next to find validation, but don't realize that you need to find that validation from within yourself, and your parents should be the people helping you discover that. Fathers do play a critical role in helping develop the psyche of their daughters. If daughters don't gain true active acceptance and communication from their fathers, they will seek it out in other male figures, leaching onto the male figure and attributing their worth to that man, rather than their selves.

Anyway, the letter is from "The Correspondence of W.E.B. Dubois, Volume 1 Selections 1877-1934" Edited by Herbert Aptheker, page 207-208

New York, October 29, 1914

Dear Little Daughter:

I have waited for you to get well settled before writing. By this time I hope some of the strangeness has worn off and that my little girl is working hard and regularly.

Of course, everything is new and unusual. You miss the newness and smartness of America. Gradually, however, you are going to sense the beauty of the old world: its calm and eternity and you will grow to love it.

Above all remember, dear, that you have a great opportunity. You are in one of the world's best schools, in one of the world's greatest modern empires. Millions of boys and girls all over this world would give almost anything they possess to be where you are. You are there by no desert or merit of yours, but only by lucky chance.

Deserve it, then. Study, do your work. Be honest, frank and fearless and get some grasp of the real values of life. You will meet, of course, curious little annoyances. People will wonder at your dear brown and the sweet crinkley hair. But that simply is of no importance and will be soon forgotten. Remember that most folk laugh at anything unusual whether it is beautiful, fine or not.
You, however, must not laugh at yourself. You must know that brown is as pretty as white or prettier and crinkley hair as straight even though it is harder to comb. The main thing is the YOU beneath the clothes and skin—the ability to do, the will to conquer, the determination to understand and know this great, wonderful, curious world. Don't shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enter into the spirit of your big bed-room. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.

Above all remember: your father loves you and believes in you and expects you to be a wonderful woman.

I shall write each week and expect a weekly letter from you.

Lovingly yours,


Sarrah said...

Love, love, love! Both your intro and his letter. I find myself saying the same thing to anyone who will listen.

I count myself as extremely blessed to have a dad who did not hold back at all when it came to sharing his love and encouragement. He always wanted the best for me and always told me that I could have the best and should aim for the best (and he still does). My heart aches for all of the girls who haven't experienced this and it is full of hope that my daughter to be will. It truly makes such a difference and doesn't take much of an effort at all!

Esma said...

Wow. That's love from the opening to the end.

The mother is also vital in this role of giving self-esteem to the daughter. Her relationship with her husband and interactions with other men will also affect her daughter's self-esteem.

Fatima said...

I love this! Every single word...

Anonymous said...

Very well said! I wish I had grew up to have that experience!

Aishah Salmah said...

wow. this is incredible.
stealing this for sure.

K said...

Wonderful. Wish I had a father like this. Glad my son has a great father.

Kate said...

Ooops, that last one was from me!