There is a lot of romance around being a “Daddy’s Girl,” yet it is falsely assumed these girls, as adults, have it better than those who had more distant or non-existent relationships with their fathers. This article is not addressing the healthy father/daughter relationship or healthy Daddy’s Girls whose fathers have raised and guided them to be classy, well-behaved, modest and kind to others. This is addressing the relationship between a father and daughter which has every quality of a romantic relationship, minus the physical intimacy. This relationship is based in equality, not authority or guidance. This relationship is mutually parasitic and destructive to both, where both would be better off and healthier without the other. This is parent/child enmeshment.
1. The enmeshed daddy’s girl.
The father makes a “star” of his daughter, giving her all she asks for and more without requiring her to earn it. There is no discipline, there are no boundaries and he feeds off of her being his “star” so he can play the role of the dedicated and doting father. She learns she is the most important to the exclusion of all others, including wives, girlfriends and other siblings. She learns to control others, especially Daddy, with her false charm and selfish temper.
Because she has never been disciplined, she lacks the ability to regulate her emotions. As an adult she becomes a “grown girl” not a “grown woman.” Daddy, on the other hand, gains his sense of identity through his image of being her father, and both promote their “unique” relationship verbally, through pictures and any other way to show off their relationship. It is a symbiotic connection not allowing either of them to mature or expand in their lives as fully functioning people.
2. Power shift.
By spoiling her, he creates a monster. Daddy has a weak self-image, so pours all of himself into his daughter throughout her childhood, but soon finds, that as an adult, he loses control over her and she begins dictating and running his life. She selfishly applies rules to him she does not apply to herself. He is expected to be her doting assistant, where she can short-notice cancel plans on him, but he would be punished for doing this to her.
As adults, enmeshed fathers and daughters don’t fight or disagree, they break up. Their relationship has the dynamics of an unhealthy romantic relationship or marriage, where everything is based in intensity and fluctuates between love or hate. Whereas, a healthy marriage is one between two equals. A Daddy’s Girl has no experience with equality. For her, equality is experienced as a demotion, so will never allow Daddy to have another woman in his life. She will rage, abandon and tantrum until she manipulates her way back into being number one. Out of guilt, Daddy succumbs. She knows just how to prey upon his guilt. She does not see him as a separate person with needs and desires of his own. His only desire should be her.
3. Superficial identity.
By spoiling her, Daddy greatly interferes with her identity development. She acts in accordance with what Daddy wants from her, often choosing career paths which guarantee his consistent admiration. He cripples her, as she is unable to truly know her own thoughts, feelings and opinions. She cannot tolerate boredom, being alone or having to think deeply about anything in her life. She is only vested in keeping Daddy’s attention, so becomes what he wants. She does not know who she is if he is not constantly admiring her, aggrandizing her ego and showing her off.
Because of this pattern she becomes the consummate showoff. She is an obsessive self-promoter constantly boasting about her achievements. She lives a parasitic life. She thrives on provoking reactions in others to fuel her ego and sense-of-self. Everyone in her life is used to serve as a mirror for her specialness. Social media will be her favorite place to promote, often having multiple accounts, courting her audience. She will demand Daddy also promote her from his account. She is tragically empty and in need of being filled with compliments and adoration.
4. Emotionally labile.
Enmeshed Daddy’s Girls live in a black and white world, judging everything based in the superficial. They have been loved for their outer qualities and spoiled with “things” or “accolades” based in performance, causing her to develop very little depth into who she is. Because she has never had to face any real pain, out of Daddy’s protection of her, she never develops the thought of the “other.” Therefore she lacks empathy, maturity and insight which will later prove to be a real threat to her overall life satisfaction and happiness.
This deeply embedded insecurity causes her sense-of-self to fluctuate at extremes. For example, she feels either privileged or victimized, talented or worthless. She cannot tolerate boredom or frustration. She views herself as blessed or cursed. These fluctuations make her extremely moody, emotionally immature and difficult to deal with. Sometimes these emotional opposites are felt every day and sometimes years apart, but for every privilege she receives from Daddy, there is a disgusted reaction from someone else.
4. Self-image problems.
The enmeshed Daddy’s Girl cannot see her image enough or hear about herself enough. She cannot feel herself unless she is being idolized. All conversations must be about her day, her mood, what so-and-so did or did not do for her, how life is unfair, how great she is, and it’s always a call to Daddy to come and rescue her from life’s intolerance.
She tends to be heady and grandiose, but to have extreme low periods which follow. She fluctuates between invincibility and inadequacy. Daddy completely curbs the healthy development of her self-image. She is consistently needy and demanding of others, especially him and has learned to show very little appreciation. These enmeshed Daddy’s Girls have a higher likelihood of troubled relationships, depression, anxiety, addiction and low self-esteem.
5. Covert Erotica.
When Daddy’s spoil their daughters in this way, there is a certain erotica between them that is visible to those around them, who probably have no idea how to talk about it or bring it up. Because there are no boundaries, these Daddy’s Girls are often found roaming around nearly naked in front of their daddy’s and any woman Daddy may have in his life, as a way for her to mark her territory and keep Daddy’s attention. It is not uncommon for these girls to want to shower in their Daddy’s shower, nap in his bed and eat the food off of his plate. They have a flirtatious relationship where she acts more as the wife or girlfriend then his daughter. This will forever kill his chances at having a lasting love or marriage outside of her, and this is how she wants it. She has no concern for his happiness.
When a father holds the belief his daughter is a superstar, she is taught to believe the same about herself, valid or not. As Daddy lavishes her with praise she fails to experience and learn to cope with the sting of constructive criticism that would make her well-rounded, empathetic and an otherwise healthy person. The creation of this “special” expectation is dangerous. She is raised to believe she is more unique than others, making her entitled to feel she can do whatever she likes due to her special status in this world. The seeds of narcissism have been deeply embedded into her psyche which she will forever fight against, and sadly, she won’t care. Daddy is left with no life aside from picking up her pieces.