How can be the family be defined in the story "Tiny, Smiling Daddy" from Because They Wanted To?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Family is not close in this story.  The father and daughter do not communicate.  There is a rift between father and daughter.  He is unable to understand her, or even attempt to understand her.  He never had a close relationship with his own father, but does not realize that he has not tried to appreciate his daughter just like his father never tried to appreciate him.

When Stew finds out that his daughter Kitty wrote an article about their lack of communication, he is surprised.  Ironically, that demonstrates the lack of communication!  When his friend Norm realizes Stew did not even know about the article, he feels awkward.

"No, she didn't say anything bad. I just didn't understand the whole idea of it. And I wondered what you thought."

Stew does not seem to understand where he went wrong. He remembers that when his daughter was young, he could make her laugh.  When she became older, all he did was confuse and annoy her.

Stew takes no responsibility for his lack of appreciation for his daughter.  He knows she left home early, but does not make the connection that it was because of their lack of support.

Kitty had projected herself out of the house and into this swarm very early, ostensibly because life with him and Marsha had been so awful. Well, it had been awful, but because of Kitty, not them. 

To Stew, Kitty’s life of torment is her own fault.  She was harassed and bullied as a teenager for being a Lesbian.  Rather than support her, he seems to blame her.

Family does not come naturally to Stew.  He assumes that he should feel a connection with his daughter just because she is his daughter.  He does not realize that the connection is what you work at to be a family.

Read the study guide:
Because They Wanted To

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