Yesterday was Father's Day. You know: hardware, socks, eggs benedict. Fathers need appreciation, hot sauce, sports, beard wash.

I wholeheartedly support respect for fathers. So I say this not as a Mondays-we-smash-the-patriarchy provocateur. It's just that l wonder if we might pause for a moment and appreciate what daughters might require, for a change.

Fathers often get the benefit of the doubt. They are authority figures. They're glorified. Daughters are not.


I was thinking about this as I read excerpts from the upcoming memoir from a famous daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, whose father was Apple founder Steve Jobs. The book called Small Fry is released tomorrow.

Steve Jobs denied Lisa was his daughter, leading to a court case, but eventually he accepted paternity. Sort of. He may have been rich and successful and changed the world and all that, but he was a prize jerk to her.

Don't expect her to admit it though.

Even now, aged 40, she manages to contort herself, pretzel-like, into rationalising her father's most extreme and hurtful behaviour towards her.

When he told her that the Apple "Lisa" computer was not named after her, it was not a cruel lie to a little girl, she insists — he was teaching her "not to ride on his coattails".

When he refused to install heat in her bedroom, he was not being callous, she says — he was instilling in her a "value system".

When dying he told Lisa that she smelled "like a toilet", it was not a spiteful , she maintains — he was merely showing her "honesty".

Lisa Brennan-Jobs maintains what might seem cruel treatment by her father was his way of building strength in her.

We may not all be the daughters of a sadistic genius, but many of us collude in this trance. My father didn't disown me, but I do know the feeling of that critical eye, that sense of not being enough.

I found it even more painful to read a piece in the New York Times by a hard-nosed psychologist called Linda Nielsen, in which she encouraged other daughters to be like Lisa Brennan-Jobs; praising the way she did not dwell on her father's failings.

According to Professor Nielsen, a father's role is to help daughters confront "the unpleasant truths" about themselves.

I suppose this is fine, up to a point. But some of us are already more than cognisant of the "unpleasant truths" about ourselves.

There is a whole billion dollar apparatus out there, an industrial-beauty-fashion-femininity complex helpfully making us more than aware of every nuance of our failings, what's wrong with us and our thighs and our eyebrows (and every other visible and non-visible thing about us).

I see it a bit differently to Prof Nielsen, thanks all the same, lady. I personally don't think I needed any more help from my father to confront my failings.

What I needed was a mirror to see the goodness, the beauty in myself, to realise someone could delight in me, despite my imperfect thighs and eyebrows and non-genius brain. This is what Lisa Brennan-Jobs, and me, and every daughter needs.

The somewhat terrifying Professor Nielsen lauds Lisa Brennan-Jobs' memoir as a comforting message for all parents who fear being an arsehole will have irreparably damaged their relationships with their children.

Lisa Brennan-Jobs forgave her frankly appalling father, so your kids will forgive you too.

She's right. They probably will. It's called identification with the aggressor.

But there is a price to be paid for remaining in denial about the truth of what happened to us, for laughing it off, pretending there is no deep wound. You can't heal what you won't even acknowledge.

No matter how badly her father treated her, Lisa Brennan-Jobs found a way to forgive him, because it is too painful to acknowledge you had a father that did not truly love you unconditionally.

Lisa Brennan-Jobs wished Steve Jobs had been more charmed by her.

"I was not capable of making him melty the way fathers seemed to be around daughters, and I of course took that personally."

Oh honey. I know.

It is much more comfortable to see a fathers' tough behaviour as Professor Nielsen puts it: "promoting self reliance and maturity and resilience" than it is to acknowledge we never got the unconditional love we deserved.

I think you can tell those lucky women who have had fathers that delighted in them just for being themselves. Fathers who saw them as the bees knees, the apple of their eye, not for achieving or fitting some punishing feminine ideal.

Those women have an internal resource, a feeling of being good enough, just "because". They are not continually searching for an adoring gaze from others; which is incidentally, a forlorn pursuit destined to fail.

I believe this is the right of every little girl: to have a father that thinks she is beautiful and perfect. Let's be honest and celebrate that.