We always connect sons with fathers. Mothers always want their boys to bond more with their fathers because they think boys relate to each other better than with girls. We have created this perfect image of boys playing soccer on the football pitch with their dads and assumed that girls could not fit in it. Daughters have just excluded girls from this big picture.
In male-dominant societies like the ones in the MENA region, having a girl is a curse. Unfortunately, some fathers create this imaginary wall between them and their daughters as a form of punishment. Instead of appreciating the fact that they have one, they worry instead. Some girls get older and can hardly speak with their fathers. On the other hand, some fathers think that they can rule and draw their daughters’ paths in order for girls not to sin. It is such a shame that girls are connected with this aspect.
My parents, particularly my father, raised me differently. I never tried to get to know my dad nor did he. For him, there was no ice to break; it was easy from the beginning. He did the best he could to not make me feel that I should do certain things because I was just a girl. My father and I were always best friends.
He believed in the power of education the equality between males and females. He lived in the typical Libyan family where women were bounded to do certain things. However, he made sure I wasn’t one of them. He believed in me like no other.
My father raised me to be independent and strong. He simply threw me in life with his guarding wings and made sure that I can be whoever and whatever I want as long as I have the will to do so. He supported me in everything I did and would want to do. I remember that he taught me how to play soccer when I was a kid. I have always helped him with construction work around the house. He never made me feel that it was only for boys.
When I was selected to participate in Space Camp program in 2010, my father told me that he was pressured by family members to stop me from going because I was a girl. He shut them all and told them that he knows me well and he would never stop from achieving my dreams. He encouraged me to speak up my mind and be brave.
The old saying says “Like father, like son.” when it can actually be “Like father, like daughter”. Fathers can have a great influence on their daughters’ lives even though some are blinded by the rules set by their societies. A girl’s relationship with her father can impact her choices, decisions, and self-esteem.
This is to every daughter and father out there, you can be friends. You can strengthen one another along the way. That perfect image does not exist. Never let society norms tell you the opposite. If you’re a father and you have a daughter, get to know her better and understand her from a different aspect. A father-daughter relationship is something I sincerely cherish and believe in its power. It is beautiful and does not deserve to be labelled or stated.