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Father’s Love

My dear Jil, you won’t understand and can’t understand: fathers are particularly protective of their daughters. That’s the problem you have with your father. It’s why he’s giving you all those troubles over marriage.

All that talk about the region your boyfriend is from – how they’re particularly full of wickedness… They’re expressions of protection. And if you think back you’ll find it’s always been there. Remember the curfew – how you couldn’t be out after 8pm, or is it 7pm? That was expression of fear and protection. You were made to obey to those restrictions but not your brother. It’s because your father feels boys can take care of themselves but daughters are delicate. Yes it’s somehow, given the fact that you were in the university all these years and he wasn’t there with you, and you survived. But the way a father reasons is that that is a controlled environment with limited danger. You were essentially in a gated community. But now that you’re out of the university, he feels it’s his responsibility to protect you directly. What a father fears the most is being careless with his daughter. So you have to understand where he’s coming from. That’s on one level.

On the other level, you have to understand his generation. There’s what you might call primordial distrust among the regions in your country, and it’s prevalent in his generation. And so he doesn’t want his daughter “carried off” to a “wicked” region – which again is funny considering that both of you will be staying in the capital. It’s not as if you’re being carried off to some remote village somewhere. But you get where he’s coming from. Once you understand those two factors, you can then approach issues with wisdom. There’s no point fighting him.

Your father believes he’s acting in your best interest and your ire is worth it. One day you’ll thank him he reckons. It’s why it seems he’s not paying attention to your tears. You need to change your approach. You need to approach your father with tact and wisdom on this issue. Sulking won’t get you married to your boyfriend.

The first thing you need to do is to get other members of your family on your side. This is military strategy stuff. You have to isolate your father within the family. You can be sure your sisters are apprehensive about his logic knowing they’re dating from outside your tribe as well. So you need to create a moral coalition. You have to woo your mum to your side. To be honest your mum is in a difficult place. She can’t be seen to be opposing your dad. But she understands. The support she can give you is underground support. Use her as your insider. Your mum knows your dad more than all of you. And she’s the only one who can chip in strategic phrases like, “Children of nowadays!” That’s a coded statement that can read, “Let her marry who she loves, times have changed.” But it’s disguised as the contrary. Your mum is the only one who can wear down your dad’s objection little by little. She’s a wise woman. Get her as your informal consultant.

Then you need to go to your dad to lay down the law of exception. Yes, even if all the people in a subset are considered heinous, nature still recognises exceptions to the rule. Your boyfriend may be that exception is your premise. And so all you’re asking is for him to give your boyfriend a chance to even impress him, or disqualify himself. That’s all you’re asking for. But you presage that by stating you know that he loves you and he’s only watching out for you. Let him also know that despite the fact some people say people from his region are also… erm, terrible people but you know your father is an exception if true. Tell him you’ll rather have him as your dad any day, that you’re proud of him, especially the way he takes care of his family. This is a private conversation between a father and his daughter mind you, though chances are your mum is eavesdropping!

The maturity with which you speak will of course impress your dad even if he gives no signification of being impressed. You’re pulling at his heartstrings. You’re his soft spot after all. He loves you! What you want, your strategic objective is to get a one-on-one encounter for your boyfriend with him. That’s all you need.

If your boyfriend is smart concerning this situation, he should have started buying gifts for your mum – things she likes. He needs to start proving that he’s going to be a worthy son-in-law. Chances are your dad will ask your sisters, “How long has this been going on?” He knows very well they’ll know. Which means he was left out of the loop. Your last brother will likely volunteer the information. I hope your boyfriend has been buying him gifts too! He’s got to be a cool “uncle”.

If you can get that interview with your dad, it’s now up to your boyfriend to prove himself. He has to be most courteous and respectful. And he should bring a gift. If he’s as smart as you say, and as mature, chances are he’ll impress your dad. Half of the fears will disappear. He can see whom his daughter is going to spend the rest of her life with. Fortunately, your boyfriend has a very good job in a bank. He’s an executive. He needs to impress his prospects on your dad. Fathers are concerned about prospects. Your father must have grudging admiration for him.

After the encounter, debrief both your father and your boyfriend. You need to give feedback to your boyfriend. From then on both of you have to find a way to incorporate your dad in the scheme of things. Your boyfriend may ask him for advice from time to time. Your boyfriend may send him a book on a subject he likes, or send him an article he thinks he might be interested in… Delivered by you of course. He needs to keep the interaction going. He needs to prove he’s going to be close to your dad. He is age appropriate for that level of interaction with your dad.

Of course, pray! Prayer does wonders. The heart of your dad is in God’s hand and God is pretty good at steering hearts. He’s been steering the hearts of reluctant fathers for generations. This is a more mature approach than being petulant.

And time is a factor. Your dad is watching your conviction, to see if time will change your mind. If you seek to force him to accept your choice or you quarrel with him, he’ll double down. You’ll meet a counter reaction. Don’t try and make him see reason. Work with him to see how happy you’ll be if you marry this gentleman.

There are things fathers watch out for in a prospective son-in-law – respect, temperament, prospects, genuine affection for their daughter, happiness of their daughter… He needs to impress him with the sincerity of his heart, the genuineness of his affection… He’ll need to undergo a lie-detector test essentially. Your boyfriend must also defer to your dad in the one on one encounter. Your father has pretty strong views on some stuff. He shouldn’t argue with him over those. Not wise!

Of course your father is going to go into family history when he meets your boyfriend. It’s called research. You can be sure he’s conducted desk research already. He knows about his family. It’s wise therefore for your boyfriend to have conducted his own research about your dad too – find out points of intersection between his family and yours. It may be that one uncle of his worked with your dad in one government establishment in those days. Your boyfriend also needs to engage your dad intellectually. What he’s trying to establish is that your dad can have someone to discuss issues with.

Stop crying. Regroup. Restrategise. Focus. Your crying is not going to change a thing. Your father will just reckon at some point you’ll stop crying, that another guy will come. Show this mail to your boyfriend. I hope you find it helpful. Let’s talk some other time, ok?

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |

For related letters, search for MY FATHER WON’T PARTICIPATE IN MY WEDDING at

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Tags : Peace, Choosing, Backgrounds

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