Author's Name Withheld by RequestMy father and I were always pretty close when I was younger. I was the typical 'Daddy's Girl.' I loved spending summers on the back of his motorcycle and playing catch with him in the yard. He always did little things for me that made my day. On Christmas, he hand-made me gifts and took me to get my picture taken with Santa. He seemed like the typical father, always wanting to make his little girl happy and to make sure she grew up strong, confident, and healthy.
But I eventually grew out of that stage and became distant with him, like most girls do. No one wants to talk about their girl problems with Dad, and he also became a lot stricter towards me, so that kept me away from him even more. He would come home from work tired and would sit in front of the TV until dinner, yet he always complained when I came home from school and did my own relaxing while surfing the web. It seemed so hypocritical, but, of course, I was just being a typical stubborn teen, I suppose, which probably didn't make things any better between us. I started to date boys and hang out late with friends. I was growing up. Maybe he just wasn't ready for that.
Now I am in college, and things have seemed to change once again. Maybe it's the fact that I'm finally starting to live on my own and leave the nest, but my dad is back to being the affectionate guy he once was ... and then some.
It feels like he is more affectionate than ever, and at first it wasn't so bad. But then it grew and continued, and it became annoying. My father continuously got in my face, trying to hug me and kiss me on the lips. I never kissed anyone in my family on the lips; I guess some people do, but I'm not that kind of person and never was. He always hugs me so tightly, to the point where I can't breathe, and he always tries to hold me still while he tries to catch my lips. This has gotten past the point of annoying to just sketchy. I have actually come to hate being alone with him. I hate when he jokes with me, I hate when he hugs me, I hate when he's anywhere near me, and I wish he would just stop. Now I am at the point where rape has seriously crossed my mind and I wonder if he just wants to get something from me.
This has been going on for at least a year, but I've been so afraid of my own thoughts that I haven't said anything to anyone. Is it possible that I am just overreacting though? Or should I be seriously concerned? Is he just being the affectionate father he once was, not ready to let his little girl go, or is there some hidden message behind the seemingly innocent acts of love?
Editor's Note: With the author's consent, I sent her article to a handful of our writers for their comments and advice, and received these responses:
First off, I'd like to tell you how strong you are for telling us at Sweet Designs what is going on in your life.
As for your situation, I don't think you are overreacting whatsoever. What you write about (the kissing, the affectionate hugging) is something you should be worried about. If this has been going on for at least a year like you said, you really need to tell someone. Find a relative/friend/counselor who will just listen. You could possibly be saving someone else, because honestly (and I'm sorry to say this), he could be doing this to someone else. Your father should have understood that you aren't his little girl anymore and should be treating with the respect you deserve as a woman.
Most girls aren't very affectionate with their fathers at an older age because that just isn't their place anymore. When we are young, our fathers seem to be the one person who won't ever let us down. But as we get older, that space is filled by boyfriends, fiances, and husbands. Your father might have a problem and may need help that is beyond you and your family's control. Don't ignore this. Please, for your sake, try to speak up and talk about it. You will need time to heal from this, if you ever do.
Gia, 18, Florida
I can tell that what you are going through - the anxiety, the fear, the confusion, the doubt, is very difficult for you. On the one hand, you feel like you don't want to accuse your own father, yet on the other hand you have to take care of yourself first if your worst fears are true. The issue of rape and molestation is so serious that I think it is better to be too concerned and overly cautious than to brush aside your fears and end up in a dangerous situation.
I do think that you have something to be seriously concerned about. It is not acceptable for a father to constantly try to kiss his daughter on the lips and hug her in a forcible manner. His behavior is obviously inappropriate, or else you would not feel so suffocated and annoyed by it. You said that his behavior is "sketchy", and I agree. Our intuition or gut instinct is very strong, and is usually accurate. Your gut instinct is telling you that something is not right. I honestly don't believe that you would have such an intense reaction for no reason. If you feel so uncomfortable when he's anywhere near you, then his behavior is definitely wrong.
Pamela, 25, South Africa
Every dad wants the closeness of his daughter. Every dad wants his little girl to love him and never leave the nest, and you shouldn't jump to conclusions, but I would be wrong to tell you not to be on guard.
There is a reason we always say 'follow your instincts'. Instincts are around for a reason, but, like I said, you shouldn't jump to conclusions. You are also older now and do have a lot more control of situations than you would have had as a child, giving you an upper hand, no matter what his intentions are.
After reading your letter a few times I kept noticing you never mentioned a mother or female figure in your life, only your father. I'm not sure how to say this without being slightly blunt, but if you don't have a female figure in the house besides yourself your father may be lonely and looking for a little affection and unintentionally acting a little more affectionately towards you than he intends. If he hasn't had a female companion of any sort for a while a thought may be to suggest dating to him, especially if you are planning to move out. He may be just extremely lonely.
If you do, however, have motherly type figure in your life, I highly suggest you mention your feelings to her. It may be slightly awkward at first, but your safety and ease should always be your main life concern. Also, she may be able to shed a different light on the situation for you. Seeing things firsthand from an outside source like she does would help a ton. If she has noticed the same instances you have, she would be able to be there to protect you and / or help you move out sooner. So telling your mother or motherly figure should soon happen.
Again, don't assume. He is your dad and will always love you. But until your concerns are settled realize you are in control. You aren't a child anymore, and if he were to ever try something, get out - don't stay. Find a friend to stay with or move out like you wish. But until he gives you a solid reason to think something is wrong don't let your emotions also ruin your family bonds - you would blame yourself later.
I hope my thoughts helped a bit. I hope this situation works out for the best and you find you are just overanalyzing the situation. Dads are important people in any girl's life. Keep your head up and your ears and eyes open and your heart on guard, but willing to love.
Lauren, 21, California
My thoughts on this may be wrong, but I can't help but give advice. I went through similar incidents with a man in my family. At first I thought he was just trying to show me he was sorry for the lack of attention I was getting or the fact he really cared for me. Your father may have tried to sustain his relationship with you as you became a teen because he was hiding unhealthy emotions. It is very possible now he has become attracted to you because you are a 'woman' now and he feels you can make your own decision. Or, maybe he's going through something mentally that he may need help with professionally.
I can't recommend sitting down alone with him and talking to him about these things because, if it is mental, I couldn't even guess the things that could happen. I don't know exactly what happened with your mother (death, leaving? etc.) but he could be trying to replace her with you because you now look like her. I believe you should call him and talk to him if you can; if not, talk to a close relative about your situation and see what they think may be going on. Ask his friends or co-workers without filling in all the details if he's been acting different at home; if so, you may need to contact a doctor.
Do not approach this alone, you don't know exactly what's going on or what he could be capable of. I know he is your father and you love him, and you don't want to see him hurting or upset. Possibly contact a psychologist for some family counseling, and try to get to the root of the problem. When it comes down to it, think of your safety and your well being. Maybe if you call him you need to explain that you are uncomfortable with his advances, and ask him why all of a sudden they've started. Explain that you are not comfortable being alone with him because of it. Tell him how you feel towards and for him, and explain that you'd like for you and him to share a relationship, but not on the level he is at.
Mia C., 17, North Carolina
While I may understand daddy problems, I have to admit I've never experienced this level of concern with my father. I can relate to you when you say that your father was very strict and it pushed you away. My father and I clash on just about everything and can spend no more than about 2 hours in the same room together. Unfortunately, he is not very affectionate, so any sign of affection seems very odd to me. But I must admit, trying to kiss you on the lips seems very inappropriate to me if he's never done it before now.
I know that this is a very sensitive topic, but I feel like you should talk to someone you trust about the subject. Technically, he hasn't tried to touch you inappropriately, but I feel like if you keep ignoring it the situation could worsen very quickly.
Maybe talk to your mom and ask if he was ever very affectionate with her. Or maybe talk to a guidance counselor and see what they say.
Unfortunately, my only real concrete advice for you is to be very careful around your father. It may in fact be nothing, but don't take any chances.
Best of luck. I hope this helps in some way!
Emily, 20, Newfoundland