Healing the father-daughter relationship

May 27, 2014
Mama's 80th birthday party

Early 1980s. My father and I are talking. His sister Ann is on the right.

Those who knew me growing up also knew the contentious relationship I had with my father. His role was to guide me with an iron fist and I fought him tooth and nail, passively and aggressively.

The day I walked down the aisle with M my father grinned ear-to-ear. I always believed behind that smile was relief that I would be someone else’s problem from that day forward.

photo of my dad and my essay about him

His photograph, my essay. Both sitting on his–our–desk.

So there will be many surprised long-time friends and relatives who would never expect me to write a loving piece about my father.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home marks the very first time anything I’ve written about Dad has appeared in print.  The essay is called My Father’s Desk. It’s about the old, battered desk I’m sitting at right now. The one that sat in his pediatric office for 50 years.

The book is out today,  just two days before what would have been my father’s 95th birthday.

It’s been six years since he left this world and our relationship is better than ever and I say that with a perfectly straight face.

My father has been in touch several times since his passing and our relationship has healed and grown. In fact, he was a starring player in the single most transformative spiritual experience I’ve had.

I’m sure this sounds strange and bizarre to those who don’t hold my beliefs. For them, no proof of life after life will suffice. To those of us who know that our souls go on after this body dies, no proof is necessary.

Well, that’s not exactly true. My spiritual journey has been all about seeking proof, and if not proof, evidence. And I found plenty of evidence. It’s there if we just look.

But. This essay is not about woo-woo stuff. It’s about a daughter coming to terms with her father. About their relationship in life.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home is available now at all the usual places.  My essay is #43. I hope you like it.

Oh, and happy birthday, Dad! I’d love it if you visited me while I’m in Portland next week. You know what I mean.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

52 comments on “Healing the father-daughter relationship
  1. Congratulations on the publication of your essay!
    I share your belief and I hope your Dad visits and lets you know he is proud of you.

  2. Congratulations on the publication,Carol! It sounds like a beautiful story. I have no problem believing your father has visited you. I always had a great relationship with my dad, but that just makes it tougher to witness the contentious relationship between my daughter and husband. I’m glad there’s hope.

    • In retrospect, the similarities between my father and me were what made us butt heads, as well as his authoritarian style that bucked up against my need to be me. A lot of wasted time–because by the time I figured it all out his mind was lost to dementia. I don’t know your specifics but I do know that if she wants to “do the work” she can change her life. Maybe you should give your daughter this anthology and the essay.

  3. Pamela Mason says:

    I get it. And I can’t wait to read your essay.

  4. aa says:

    Congratulations, Carol! I look forward to reading your essay (and love that you write at your father’s desk).

  5. Marci Rich says:

    Okay. Now you’ve given my mother the idea to start visiting me–my shorthand code for filling out online forms didn’t kick in when I went to enter my name in the comment field, rendering me “aa.” My mother’s initials were A.A.

  6. Woot! Congratulations! Not only on having the essay published (which is AWEsome!) but on coming to terms with past discord and find a warm and welcoming spot for your dad to visit… no matter where you are.

  7. This is great! And I understand what you mean about your relationship being better than ever. Sometimes I think the same about my late father.

  8. Congratulations, I am SO PROUD OF YOU!

  9. kim tackett says:

    Carol, congratulations on the publication, but also on your openness to healing and love. I am participating in someone’s end of life journey right now, and I have to tell you, there are signs everywhere. It’s remarkable the way love overcomes, isn’t it?

  10. Congratulations Carol! You must be so proud. I can’t wait to read it!

  11. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Congrats, Carol! It is beautiful that you and your Dad continued to find ways to heal. Can’t wait to read it!

  12. Lisa Froman says:

    Congratulations! I love the Chicken Soup series; I think this is a great honor. And the fact that you get to honor your dad’s memory is wonderful! I’ve pretty much had an absentee father for the last 35 years of my life. But I love him, and I’ve forgiven him for being so absent. I threw him an 80th birthday party two years ago and I wish him the best.

  13. Congrats on the book. I’ve heard Jack Canfield speak, as he lives up here in the Santa Barbara area (or did). I am lucky because my Dad is still alive. As a kid he was hard to live with because he yelled, but he is a fantastic adult.

    • How lucky that you got to have a good relationship with him! I haven’t heard Jack speak, but I seem to have a knack for sappy writing. LOL One of my snarky SF playwright friends laughed as she said ” if I see one more of yours in CSS I’ll have to stop being your friend. Oh, I’ll still read and admire, but we’ll be done.” (she was kidding. I think. she was actually the subject of my FIRST CSS essay!)

  14. penpen says:

    So heartened to hear we can write our way to peace with a contentious but departed parent. I’ll have to give it a try–and read your essay.

  15. I also had a contentious relationship with my father, however, he has never shown up after his death, which is a good thing ’cause I’d kick him in the teeth, but I’m so happy you’ve worked it out! Now I’m off to buy/read your essay! Awesome Carol!

  16. Congrats on the publication of your essay as well as the healing of your relationship with your dad. (I too believe in messages from those who have passed over.) May your words help someone else to heal.

  17. Congratulations, I’m so excited for you.

    I believe you father has visited you and has helped you to heal that relationship. But no matter what anyone else believes, it’s your truth that matters.

  18. Congratulations on the book!

    I never see my own father; it was a choice I made some years ago and I’ve never regretted it. I always wondered how I would feel when he dies…since I feel I’ve already done a good chunk of mourning for that relationship.

    I’m glad you’ve found some healing Carol.

  19. D. A. Wolf says:

    Brava! This is very exciting! My contentious relationship was with my now deceased mother. Fortunately, we slowly work on making peace…

  20. Linda Roy says:

    Congratulations Carol! I look forward to reading your essay. I’ve always had a contentious relationship with my mother, and I’ve written one loving essay about her among a number of, shall we say, less loving ones. 😉 I’m glad you’re in a better place about your relationship with your dad.

  21. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Major congrats, Carol! I look forward to reading this story about your dad.

  22. my mother said my dad came to visit her. Of course, he told her not to worry about the money, to just spend it all. I told her to send him to my house and if he told me that he wanted mom to gamble all of the money he left her away, I would shut my mouth. He never showed up.

  23. That’s really exciting Carol. Congratulations. I can’t wait to read it.

  24. The world, our beliefs, what we know, and what we experience do not always match up, do they? It sound like you are allowing them all to fit as best you can. I think of things in terms of dimensions, energies, overlap, and the like. Even for those folks who do not believe in such things, time can allow healing to occur. I know there are no unidirectional processes, so that healing has to go in both directions, right? Congrats on the publication. That is a wonderful milestone to celebrate with your Dad.

  25. Better late than never, I say! My dad passed about 5 years ago…still waiting for some healing…good for you that you’ve received some.

  26. Karen says:

    I know what you mean about relationships healing after a parent’s death. I’ve experienced the same with both my parents. Congratulations on getting published today!

  27. Tamara says:

    So exciting about the publication of your piece Carol. I am reminded that I haven’t called my father in awhile and shall rectify that this evening! THANK YOU!

  28. My father died when I was 17 and for many years I felt his presence in my life. Your essay sounds quite nice–congrats on the inclusion in the book!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.