Father-Daughter Scars Can Run Deep–and They Can Heal, Too

I received the following message from a woman who attended my keynote address at a conference in California recently. I share it (with her permission, and the name has been changed) to illustrate just how powerful this high-voltage line is between fathers and daughters.

Hello Mr. Renner,
I want to take a few minutes to describe my feelings towards your presentation. First off, I have the utmost respect for you, as a man, father and an individual overall. I didn’t realize that your presentation was going to affect me to the extent that it did. When you started your presentation, you asked the fathers and daughter in the audience to stand and asked them a set of questions that related to their father. I sat down immediately because none of the questions pertained to me. When I sat down, looking around at the handful of other daughters in the conference that sat down with me, a great deal of emotion began to run through my body, I wanted to burst out in tears,but I didn’t know why.

My parents got divorced when I was five years old, my younger sister was two years old. My parents had anything but a healthy relationship. My father abused my mother physically, verbally and emotionally for 8 years of their marriage. I remember early memories, of my father beating my mother to death in a bath tub, while I stood at the entrance of the bathroom. I remember those horrific moments clearly, as if it was yesterday. Since their divorce, he has not been a part of my life, nor cared to come around, other than when he gets drunk and remembers he has two daughters he’ll stop by my house, when I chose not to answer the door.

I sent him a long letter when I was 15 years old. In the letter I described my memories that he left embedded in my mind, the feelings I had towards him as a father and what I thought the type of father he should have been. At that moment, my anger was released, I forgave him for the pain he caused my mother and myself, but I feel that I will never forgive him for the pain of not being that “father figure” that every girl should have.

When I got home the night of the conference, I had emotions that were waiting
to burst out the moment that I got home. I parked, walked into my house, put my keys down and my mother asked me how the conference went. The only thing I remember was basically falling into fetal position into tears. She held me and repeatedly asked what was wrong with me. After collecting myself, I walked with her into the living room, and explained my experience at the conference during your presentation. Her eyes filled with tears and I explained to her, that you hit a spot that hasn’t been touched before. I know my mother is a single parent, and I think she has been a better parent than some dual parent households I know of. She is the greatest blessing I have ever recieved. I never feel like I missed out of a “father figure” because my grandpa picked up the father figure for me, my family is very close knit and took responsibilities for anything my mom needed help with.

I am very aware that I cannot relate to many other girls when it comes to relating to their father, but my mother did an amazing job at being the mother and father figure for me. At that moment in the conference when I sat down though, I felt singled out, I felt unwanted, and with no purpose to continue sitting there if I couldn’t relate to the “fatherhood” topic. I chose to stay and listen. I loved it! I would have loved to grow up with a father like you, but my past has only made me more aware of the person I decide to chose as father for my children.

I just want to thank you for allowing me to open up to a side, that perhaps needed to come out, that needed cleansing.You opened a side that perhaps,I didn’t know needed to be opened but it felt so good to let it out. I felt emotionally drained for a few days after, but I am better now.

Thank you Mr. Renner for your amazing presentation and outlook of fatherhood. your daughters are TRULY BLESSED.
There should be more fathers like you in this world.

With respect,

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