Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mary J. Blige and "Stick Fly" Taylor Search for a "Father in You"

Two recent performances on the New York City stage left me wondering about the bond between fathers and daughters and the havoc it can create in the lives of some daughters when this bond is not nurtured. The first is The New York Times’ Times Talks with Mary J. Blige and the other is a preview performance of Lydia R. Diamond’s black family drama Stick Fly on Broadway.  

At the TimesTalks, Mary J. Blige spoke candidly about the personal pain that has been the inspiration for her music in recent years. During the Q&A, an audience member expressed how the song Father in You really touched her. Mary explained that the song came about at the beginning of her marriage. She spoke about how she never had a father figure in her life to make her feel special, to make her feel loved, to tell her that she is beautiful. Her husband finally filled that role. She then lamented how her life could have been different if she had a nurturing father throughout her life. After the Times Talk, I have deeper respect for Mary J. Blige’s music.  

Separately in Stick Fly, the character Taylor (played by Tracie Thoms) never fully recovers after her famous, intellectual father rejects her and her mother and remarries. In one of his award winning books, he does not include her in the dedication to his family and at his funeral, Taylor is never acknowledged. This rejection plays out during a weekend visit to Martha’s Vineyard to meet her fiancĂ©e’s family for the first time.  

A while back, I heard Dr. Margaret J. Meeker speak on the radio about her book - Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know.  Looking at the contents of her book, the secrets are summarized as follows:

You Are the Most Important Man in Her Life
She Needs a Hero
You Are Her First Love
Teach Her Humility
Protect Her, Defend Her (and use a shotgun if necessary)
Pragmatism and Grit: Two of Your Greatest Assets
Be the Man You Want Her to Marry
Teach Her Who God Is
Teach Her to Fight
Keep Her Connected

If some fathers heed Dr. Meeker’s advice, just imagine how the pain while fictional in the case of Diamond's Taylor but oh so very real in the case of Mary J. Blige can be avoided.

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