Tips for Father/Daughter Reunions

Many have written to me asking for advice for meeting your father or daughter for the first time. I’ve taken my previous articles and combined them into one article, Tips for a Father/Daughter Reunion.

Tip One: Use a third party to locate the missing family member

It’s not always easy to locate a missing father or daughter by yourself. If all else fails you can hire a private detective, but then you may want to do the actual contact yourself. A private detective may be off-putting for a father or a daughter. However, one option is to locate another family member who may make that initial contact for you by forwarding an email or letter. Be sure to include your contact information in it.

Tip Two: Write a letter as your first means of contact

While there is the possibility of making first contact by using the telephone, expressing your feelings in writing allows you to make sure you’ve said everything you meant to say in the way you meant to say it. Receiving a letter from you also allows the other person time to think over what you’ve said and to process it before responding.

Tip Three: Fathers: Show interest and ask questions

A phone call can get everything off to a wrong start if, out of nervousness, you find yourself rambling on about yourself or your other kids. Not asking about her and listening to you talk about your other kids is the last thing the daughter wants the first time she hears from you—or even the second or third—especially not at the first meeting. In a child’s mind, she may think of you as “my dad.” While some part of her realizes you could have other children, she needs some time to bond with you on a one-on-one basis. Be her dad for awhile—there’s time to introduce the rest of the family later.

Tip Four: Daughters: Be prepared for his side of the story

They say that there is her side of the story, his side of the story, and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Expect that there will be another side of the story and be willing to listen to it. React calmly and try to understand the situation.

Tip Five: Show patience and understanding

The biggest reason that fathers aren’t more open to contacting their adult children is spelled F-e-a-r. Fathers are afraid that they will be blamed for not being there, they will be accused of abandoning the child and they are afraid of being attacked. Fathers also worry about the people in their present life: their wife, their kids, their grandkids, their neighbors, the people at church.

But like any new relationship, with love, understanding, and patience, this relationship can grow into something more. It takes time, the right circumstances and the willingness on everyone’s part. It doesn’t always turn into the father/daughter relationship you’ve always hoped for but sometimes it helps to be grateful for what you do get. And what you do get may surprise you, and make taking that risk of rejection well worth it.