Updates: “Not a Daddy’s Girl” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Not a Daddy’s Girl” who wanted a better relationship with her once-abusive father. “My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s,” she wrote, “which has swiftly changed him from the ultimate authority figure to a fragile, confused old man. It is now occurring to me that I am running out of time to connect with my father and have the close father-daughter relationship I always wanted.” Keep reading to see whether their relationship has gotten closer in the three months since she wrote in.

Shortly after you answered my letter I found out I was getting a promotion at work, and I used the opportunity to call my father and tell him the big news. The conversation was a little forced and awkward, with mostly me talking and a lot of pauses on my dad’s side. I pushed through though, and we ended up talking almost an hour. I thought he wasn’t really into it, and I was disappointed. But, boy, was I wrong! My mom told me later that my dad told her he and I “had the best conversation we’ve ever had” and that she even overheard him telling three different friends about it!

It really shocked me that it meant so much to him and that he’s wanted to connect with me as much as I have wanted to connect with him. So I have been calling him every month or so with news of my new job and my life and travels and to discuss his experiences in the same places. Each time it has gone better with my dad opening up more each time. I have been working the questions you suggested into our conversations and I feel like I am getting to know him as a real person. I’m so happy! I think that, if I keep this up, by the next time I see him we’ll be able to have a natural, comfortable interaction and spend some one-on-one time together.

Thanks, Wendy!!

That’s wonderful! Congratulations on the new job and the better relationship you’re building with your father!


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Awesome update LW!
    Congrats on your mature handling of all this, and your new job. Way to have your stuff together =)

  2. What a great update! Congrats!

  3. Don’t be so surprised LW. A child’s is anyone’s greatest achievement. (unless you are Bill Gates or your child is a serial murderer I suppose)

    1. wow, dislike, and totally disagree. I know Wendy has delved into the whole “women who don’t want kids” thing, but as a woman who neither wants NOR LIKES kids (the idea of my own or anyone else’s), that sentiment has always bothered me. I would say, for instance, that the person who finds the cure for cancer – no matter how many kids they have – will have done a far greater service to the world with their medical research than they will have with their kids (I would say the same about people like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr or Albert Einstein – their professional and social accomplishments far outweigh pooping out babies).

      In Bossypants, I love that Tina Fey mentions that her child is the greatest thing she’s ever done – except some professional accomplishments. I understand feeling accomplished for having a kid, and yay to those who do! I admire that sensibility, though I don’t have it at all. For myself, I personally find professional accomplishments far more admirable than simply giving in to what, to most, is a basic biological urge (uh…pigs, whales, donkeys, and fruit flies do it, too, but I don’t see anyone cooing over baby praying mantises. Well, entomologists, maybe). “Greatest achievement”? Yeah, no, not so much. Something to be proud of and appreciate and love and care for and provide for and hopefully help guide or influence in a positive way? Sure. But “greatest” anything? Nah.

      1. im glad that someone said it….

      2. Perhaps why Scattol’s comment rubbed you the wrong way was because she/he said “anyone’s greatest achievement,” as opposed to “a parent’s greatest achievement.” Obviously, if you have no desire to have children, they aren’t going to be your greatest anything.

        While I might not have personally gone with the word achievement, I do understand the sentiment Scattol was trying to convey, which was basically that of course the LW’s dad is interested in hearing about her accomplishments because he loves her and is immensely proud of her.

      3. That’s how I interpreted it, too. And to add, I think scattol was just being a little off the cuff with that statement? Like, it shouldn’t be taken as literally GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT, just, okay, that’s your child, of course you want to know your child is doing well, even if you weren’t doing always doing well as a parent.

      4. Yeah Fabelle, I think your last sentence really rang true for me. I think most people, barring extreme circumstances, want to know that their family is doing well. And that is what I think would have been a better way to put it. Parents want their kids to be happy and to know they’re doing well.

        I think some people have been made to feel like if they don’t have kids, their life doesn’t have as much meaning. But, that’s definitely not true and I doubt that was Scattol’s intention. But, unfortunately some people do make people without children feel that way intentionally.

      5. I guess it turns on what you want to achieve in life. If your focus is professional success then it is easy to dismiss having a child as a mere biological function – though rude to do so. Your offence at the initial remark at what you view to be dismissing the achievements of the child-free is tainted by YOUR dismissal of parents who do view their children as their greatest achievement. “Pooping out babies”? Charming.

        How about we acknowledge we are different, we don’t all want the same thing, there is no hierarchy of doing it right since what is right is different for each woman, for each person, and we limit the dismissive attitude to those who are doing things differently than we are?

        I, for one, have had great professional success and own my own firm but if my tombstone reads “Here lies a great lawyer”, as far as I’m concerned, I will have done something very wrong in my life.

        And for the record, my family IS the greatest achievement in my life and having my daughter – without question – the best and most important thing I’ve ever done.

      6. Again, FireStar for the win.

        How’s the baby doing??

      7. She’s doing great – thanks Bethany! She is now all chubbed up with chunky thighs and dimples. It still hasn’t hit me yet she’s mine. I wonder when that happens? Hopefully before the thirteen year old door slamming door phase when I start wondering if she really IS mine after all.

      8. Avatar photo shanshantastic says:

        We’re four and a half months in and it hasn’t completely sunk in yet that this happy little person is mine, even if I tell him a dozen times a day. I think it’ll take time. 🙂 Congratulations, by the way!

      9. While I totally respect someone’s choice and desire to NOT have kids and I absolutely think there are achievements that are equal to and surpass parenthood, I do take issue with what you call “giving in to a basic biological urge.” Sure, maybe creating (conceiving, birthing) a baby is biological, but raising a child to be a responsible and valued and productive member of society IS a great achievement. It is a lifelong endeavor — so much bigger and more complex and taxing than a project at work or a single job or even an average career. Just because it is a biological urge — and one that you don’t have — doesn’t make being a wonderful parent any less of an incredible achievement.

      10. Wendy, when you phrase it as “raising a child to be a responsible and valued and productive member of society is a great achievement,” sure, I don’t think anyone would disagree, but Scattol phrased it as *a child* is *anyone’s greatest achievement,* which does read as having a kid is more positively meaningful than anything else you could do. Maybe he/she actually meant it the way you clarified it, but the original phrasing is kind of offensive to people who don’t plan to have kids… it’s also just not true, as we all know people who have kids who turned out to be a huge heartache for them.

      11. Avatar photo Imsostartled says:

        Yeah, I also think scattol’s response was a bit insensitive towards child-free folk (and others who just view other things as more of an acheivement), but I think Wendy might be feeling a bit offended by Disaggree when they said “For myself, I personally find professional accomplishments far more admirable than simply giving in to what, to most, is a basic biological urge (uh…pigs, whales, donkeys, and fruit flies do it, too, but I don’t see anyone cooing over baby praying mantises. Well, entomologists, maybe). ” To me that’s dismissive and a bit condescending to those who choose to have children and view them as accomplishments in their lives.

      12. Avatar photo Imsostartled says:

        Not that I know what Wendy’s feeling obviously. I personally just found both the comment and Disagree’s response a bit off-putting.

      13. Oh, true, but both Scattol and Disagree seemed to be referring to the act of having a child, as distinct from the achievement of good parenting.

      14. exactly.

        *a child* is *anyone’s greatest achievement* — no. sorry that my life might just be 100% un-accomplished…. but frankly there are too many assholes in the world for this to be evenly remotely true.

      15. Something Random says:

        hmm. I presumed scattol’s comment meant to apply to anyone who has had a child because the value in completing and achieving anything in life is completely subjective and therefore the statement wouldn’t be applicable to non-parents. I read the exceptions as hyperboles, which also led me to think she didn’t mean the statement as applicable to every human who has ever walked the earth but rather her understanding the average parent’s perspective.

        The original lw was talking about a father who’s abuse was defended by time
        and culture. There may be some truth to that. But I think the intention of scattol’s comment was to assert that for most living things on this planet, the value a producing a child, offspring, or reproduction does subjectively rank as their highest accomplishment regardless of time and culture. Just my interpretation.

        Of course human being’s extraordinary central nervous system and language acquisition allow for an intensely unique life experience that perpetuates self, ideas, and creation on many different and immeasurably significant levels. Just my opinion.

      16. Exactly! For anyone who has a child, it may feel like their most important achievement – unless they are bill gates, cure cancer, have another huge passion, etc. I felt like “scattol” was just keeping it light and being cute… Until I saw the replies lol.

      17. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Pooping out babies? Really?

      18. I don’t plan to have kids, but I wasn’t offended by this. I just took this to mean a person’s greatest achievement of all THEIR achievements. Something has to be #1, right? Just because someone’s top achievement in life isn’t something that you’ve also done doesn’t mean that you can’t have your own achievements. Apples and oranges.

      19. Addie Pray says:

        Geez, the backlash and over analysis of Scattol’s statement is funny to me. I took Scattol’s statement as a funny dig on parents – like a “yea yea, all parents think their children are the best” comment …

        Ok, now trying to catch up on days of posts. It’s hard to keep up. Byeeeee

      20. something Random says:

        hmm that fact that you find my over analysis funny tells me you believe proportionate responses are appropriate and therefore overly offended or defensive replys to comments are not given serious consideration by the average DW reader and are ironically made ineffective by the very passion intended to convert.

        🙂 I try, but I’m just not funny. You’re still so my hero.

      21. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        aw shucks. you have my permission to be overly offended and defensive and/or over analyze anything you want, and I say no one can give you shit about it. 🙂

        And I want to elaborate on my point, I mean, what I think Scattol said was more of a “yea yea, all parents think their children are the best” comment and a “yea yea, don’t be too proud of yourself; parents think anything their kids do is just the best” comment. Eh, I am a day late and a dollar short to this non-debate.

        Can someone update me? I feel so out of touch with reality. With DW reality.

      22. Ele4phant says:

        While i definitely rolled my eyes good and hard at her choose of words, I got that she was probably referring to “parents” and not everyone. And I genuinely hope that for those who choose to raise children, watching them grow into happy successful adults is one of their greatest achievements. I mean, how sad for everyone involved if they weren’t invested raising happy functional people.

        And speaking as someone who’s on the fence leaning away from having kids, I would take no offense if she actually was trying to say that universally raising kids is the greatest thing anyone could do. Because why would I care what some randomn person on the Internet thinks about my life choices? Some people do think kids are little miracles and women can have no higher calling. I don’t agree that that’s true in a lot of instances, but as long as no one tries to force me into having a kid I don’t care what they think.

    2. This might sound weird, but I hope my mom doesn’t considery sister and I her greatest achievement. I realize that sounds bad, and my sister and I are both fairly successful and turned out pretty okay, but my mom has taught over 1000 kids over the course of her very long teaching career. And a lot of times, she was working with kids who didn’t really have anyone else advocating for them, for various reasons. And now, kids she taught 20+ years ago still get in touch with her, to tell her what she meant for them. And as someone who did not have what it takes to be a teacher, I hope she considers that her greatest achievement. Because she’s pretty phenomenal.

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Ha that reminds me of the part in Knocked up when his Dad says something like “oh you’ll be fine, you kids are the joy of my life, the best thing I’ve ever done” and he responds “Now I just feel bad for you”.

        I have mixed feelings on this whole debate, but that’s probably because I have mixed feelings about whether I want to have kids. Overall though, it is not an accomplishment to have kids. If snooki can do it’s not exactly an achievement. However, to raise successful, well adjusted, kids that make a difference in the world and are good people – that is an accomplishment and does take a lot of work.

      2. haha, if snooki can do it, its per se not an accomplishment

        honestly i hope my greatest accomplishment, whether i ever have kids or not, has to do with cats. that would make me very happy.

      3. Addie Pray says:

        but they are evil!! maybe if you devote your life o finding a cure for their evil ways? ok.

  4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    Great update!

    I too have a weird relationship with my dad. I have been texting with him during football games, and my mom has said it’s made him super happy. Sometimes pushing yourself a little can result in really positive things.

    1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      Can I pry? Are you talking about your biodad or your step dad?

      1. I wondered too, GG!

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Oh step dad, haha! Def not bio dad! I am NOT ready to cross that bridge!

        My step dad has always been more of “the man who is married to my mom” rather than a father figure in my eyes, even though he has been around since I was like 6. I think he’s always looked at our relationship as more of a father daughter, so I’m happy something seemingly small is fostering the father-daughter he is looking for and not putting me out of my comfort zone.

      3. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Interesting. Since he was in your life since you were really young do you think it was you that was putting off a relationship? Or do you think he was a little awkward about the relationship as well? I guess I just think that from 6 on… that’s a long time to view him as the guy that married your mom. I wonder if your mom just didn’t try to push the relationship. In summary, I’m nosy, please indulge me, haha.

      4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        No judgment. I think it was mostly me who was resistant to the father-daughter relationship. My bio dad was also majorly flaking out/screwing up around the same time (I haven’t interacted with him since 4th grade). I was of the mindset that “mom and I can do anything”. My step dad also brought about a lot of change- school districts, two new siblings, mom being a stay at home mom- so I think to a degree I was blaming him for all the change (even the positive change). We’ve always had a good relationship, but it’s never been super close or lovey. As I’ve gotten older we’ve been able to connect better, but me living so far away has been hard since he isn’t a phone or e-mail kind of person and he just started texting like this summer!

        He also did A LOT of work to make our wedding perfect, which was sort of a realization time for me that he did see me as his kid, even though biologically I’m not. I know 22 years is a flipping LONG ass time to realize that, but I’ve always had a really independent mindset. (Go figure I’m so codependent on GGuy. I could probably use therapy.)

      5. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Okay that makes a lot of sense. I just sometimes feel bad when kids are stubborn (which I totally am) and don’t accept love. Like it’s one thing if a parent or a pseudo parent is abusive, or sucks in general, but I always wonder what the reasons are when people have access to love and support and don’t feel like they received it. I’m glad to hear in your case that it wasn’t anything bad, just a lot of change for a young kid. (FYI this is why I am totally going to be one of those parents that – absent abuse – will stay together for the kids – kids CRAVE stability. Sometimes I think single parents that do it all on their own – that don’t date – are healthier than a mom who has a revolving door of “male role models” – but all that is a tangent for another day)

      6. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I was definitely stubborn! And I definitely agree kids crave stability. That was one thing that did keep me sane was my mom trying SO hard to keep our routine stable, even when we moved and brought in a new father figure and siblings. Thankfully my mom was very guarded about BFs she brought around me- I only met one other BF to my memory before my now step-dad.

  5. This update made me cry! Happy tears. Great update.

  6. something Random says:

    Wendy’s advice to this letter writer was one of my favorite responses from her. Actually, I had totally forgotten about it until this update. There are probably a ton of other “favorites” I don’t remember, but this one just strikes a chord today. I know Wendy mentioned something about an e-book early next year. Does anybody know if this is going to be a best of dear wendy book?

    1. Thanks! The eBook won’t contain any full, previously-published columns, but will contain a few snippets of some. It will be a mix of “best of” (from previously published content) and brand new original content. And it will be a sort of guide book for navigating modern relationships and enjoying the process of finding and maintaining love — in many of its forms. Still planning to have it ready by early next year.

      1. Sounds awesome Wendy!!

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