How a Simple Exercise Triggered a
Powerful Emotional Interaction with Her Dad
A World-Class Photographer Finds an Unusual Way to Spark
a Deeper Emotional Connection to her Very Private Father
MC had achieved a significant degree of success as one of the top celebrity photographers in America. But her relationship with her own dad back in France had never been that great.
Typical of many French men, she found her dad to be generally unwilling to open up about what was really happening in his own life. Even worse, whenever MC would discuss her career, her dad’s comments would often be disparaging, putting her down as someone who could not achieve much greatness in anything she did.
Still, as part of the ongoing research for The Father-Daughter Project, as she was preparing for a trip back home to Paris a few months ago, I coaxed her to try the Father-Daughter questions on her dad.
With neither positive nor negative expectations, I felt it might be interesting for MC to try this with her dad, especially since her relationship with him was not the best. What did she have to lose?
these Questions on Her Dad
Somewhat reluctant, believing nothing could possibly change in the relationship with her father, and not really believing any good could even come of it, nevertheless she bravely agreed to at least give it a try.
Once in Paris, she warned her dad in a phone call, that upon her visit with him the following day, she’d like to take him through the questionnaire.
Surprisingly, and perhaps not realizing the personal nature of the questions that would be asked, he agreed. In fact, he seemed unusually upbeat about the possibility of engaging with her through these questions.
Upon meeting with him the next day, after the cordial, “How have you been, you look great,” meaningless chatter, they prepared for her interview of her dad.
Led to an Unexpected Surprise
After just a few of the questions about his childhood, her dad’s emotional reaction changed. Either something in the questions spooked him, or perhaps because he feared the personal nature of the questions themselves, MC’s dad stopped her, cut her off, saying, “No, I don’t want to do this!”
At that point, she dismissed the attempt to connect better with her dad as a complete failure, and proceeded on to her visit to Paris and her friends.
But something strange happened within a week of her returning to America. Out of the blue, MC received a call from her dad wanting to chat with her for a few minutes.
This was so strange… something he had never done in all the years and decades that she’d been in America. In fact, although there was some awkwardness, he proceeded to share with her a little about his life, about what was going on in his life.
What he shared was not a huge revelation, but the fact that he would take the effort to share anything was a new experience for MC with her father. Although there seemed to be discomfort in sharing a little about his life and “feelings’ with her, he seemed to brave the few minutes with her, making a brave effort to try this unusual action.
Over the following few months, she has heard from him a few more times, which for her, has been mind-blowing and, in a way, intensely satisfying.
a Deep Emotional Chord
Perhaps the most important item to come out of these brief chats was something MC had never heard or expected from her dad.
Over the course of her visit to Paris and the phone chats with him, she shared links to the website showing her work as a photographer, something he had never before seen.
Out of the blue, in one of their chats, he mentioned how impressed he was with the amazing photography work she had done. “C’est incroyable,” he exclaimed.
Funny thing, that simple comment, something she had never heard from her father, somehow sent an emotional wave through her. She struggled to keep her composure, as his words sunk in.
MC had done fine without her father’s support and encouragement all these years. Yet somehow, at a deeper level than she expected, his compliment affected her in a way she was not prepared.
She realized, this was something he had never done before… compliment her for something important that she had done.
How has the new found contact with her dad affected MC?
It’s hard to tell. For now, there is an emotional payoff. It feels good at some deep level for MC that even she cannot explain.
On a different note, MC has committed to returning to France and to Europe, at least for part of each year. Her recent visit and perhaps the connection with her dad have given her a sense of comfort. She has now recognized the European lifestyle feels more comfortable for her than her adopted home in America.
Unsure if the attempt to connect better with her father had something to do with her wanting to return “home” to Europe, it certainly changed something.
Will her chats with her father continue? Who knows? But for now, it feels like trying to take her dad through the questions was certainly worth the risk.
MC found that, for her, reaching out to her father and trying to improve her relationship with him seems to have made a difference in surprising ways.
She is intrigued at how deeply she has been affected emotionally from her father’s comments about her work. In a small way, and perhaps in a larger way that even she does not realize yet, there seems to have been a wonderful payoff.
How long-lasting that payoff will be, remains to be seen. Still, her risk of trying to open the emotional door and see what happens, certainly appears to have been worthwhile.
Photographs Copyright (c) 123RF Stock