There is nothing wrong with arguing that a strong father/daughter relationship is important—if, that is, you’re also arguing that strong parent/child relationships in general are important. But there’s something weird when you elevate the father/daughter relationship above these others and start arguing that fathers and daughters should find in each other what they would otherwise go looking for in sexual and romantic relationships.
Voddie Baucham says that middle aged men should turn to their teenage daughters to get the attention and fulfillment they would otherwise look for through an affair with a young secretary.
Randy Wilson says that teenage daughters should turn to their middle aged fathers for the attention and fulfillment they would otherwise look for in dating relationships with other teenagers.
This whole thing is weird. And disturbing.
Do Voddie and Randy see the love that grows between family members as interchangeable for romantic love, filling the same needs and purposes? Do Voddie and Randy think that middle aged men seek out sex with young secretaries and teenage girls seek out sex with teenage boyfriends for some other-than-sexual reason? The answer to both of these questions must be “yes.”
I think Voddie and Randy would argue that both middle aged men’s affairs with younger women and teenage girls’ forays into the dating world are about wanting affirmation rather than about either sex or the desire to create an actual mutual and companionate relationship. This is bizarre. The suggestion that men who have affairs with their secretaries only wanted the youthful admiration and adoration they had to offer suggests a view that men are very shallow and egotistical and threatens to place some responsibility for the affair on the wife for not being adoring and youthful enough. The idea that teenage girls only enter into relationships with teenage boys in order to gain affirmation erases these young women’s agency, or any possibility that they might have healthy self esteem and be able to stand on their own two feet.
And of course, there are also the Botkin sisters. As we shall see in Kate’s reviews of their book So Much More, they argue that daughters should serve as help meet to their fathers and adopt their wants and desires. And this all gets very, very explicit.
This weird insistence on the father/daughter relationship being of utmost importance ends up overshadowing the importance of the father’s relationship with his own wife and the daughter’s gradual move beyond the family unit toward eventually establishing her own family unit. Everyone loses in this scenario—the mother who feels she must compete with her daughter, the father who sabotages the depth of relationship he could have with his wife, and the daughter who ought to be learning to stand on her own two feet and venture outside of the home. Everyone loses.