Denna Babul & Karin Luise
written by KATHLEEN STEVENS WHALEY | photo by KELLE MAC PHOTOGRAPHY
Growing up fatherless is a topic you won’t find blowing up Facebook, Twitter or local news channels. That is why Denna Babul and Dr. Karin Luise passionately bring awareness to a hushed reality, creating thunderous voids for so many. Together this dynamic duo has birthed The Fatherless Daughter Project: an overarching movement including a book, documentary and nonprofit organization. After speaking with hundreds of fatherless women, the pair realized the need for support and help was both widespread and lacking.
“Being fatherless is a journey that changes and evolves throughout your life,” Babul explained. “The goal is to go from fatherless to forgiveness to fearless.” Babul and Luise met in their 30s here in Atlanta, became fast friends and discovered they shared a bond of loss and healing. Ultimately, both kicked to the surface armed with the tools, skills and desire to help others still struggling.
After an appearance on the “Today” show, where she spoke candidly about losing her dad at age 13, women came out of the woodwork asking Babul for advice. They wrote. They called. She stumbled onto an ah-ha moment: women needed a platform to share what it’s like facing the years without a dad for guidance or hugs or help. Babul explained that without a supportive dad, every girl walks through life robbed. Starting this month, listeners can tap into her weekly podcast, “The Empower Hour,” on iTunes.
Their empowering book, “The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our Lives,” is set to hit shelves spring 2016. Readers will discover not only stories from a wide variety of fatherless women, but two personalities woven throughout the text: the outspoken, sassy personality of Babul coupled with Luise’s calming clinical voice.
“We purposefully created a book that did not focus solely on the gloomy pain of the loss,” Luise explained, “but rather always returned to hope, empowerment and resilience.”
Luise operates a private practice specializing in stress coping, relationships and resiliency. And she should know. As a girl, she suffered multiple layers of father loss: first with the detachment of her natural father, and again with a stepfather who adopted her, then released the lifeline.
Through it all, Luise believes in restoration. She encourages women to invest in themselves through therapy and pursuing inner-wholeness. Never give up. A protective yet pliant heart may garner surprising results. In her own life, Luise’s natural father has finally become more present, to the point of stepping up as an engaged grandfather to her three children.
“Miracles are always possible,” she granted.
Among other publications, Luise blogs for The Huffington Post and has been featured in USA Today and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her “Ask Dr. Karin” column is found within the pages of Southern Seasons Magazine.
As for Babul, on top of creating a community and support system for fellow fatherless women, she serves as a direct sales manager for Cardiovascular Systems, a Fortune 500 medical company. In a rich Southern accent, deepvoiced yet impossibly peppy, Babul credits her husband John for holding down the fort while making her roles as mother, speaker, author and life coach possible. She also acknowledged her mother as inspiration in dealing with the loss of her own dad, who passed at the premature age of 42.
“The only time I saw my mom cry was over burnt cookies at Christmas,” Babul smiled. She praised her mother’s backbone and work ethic as examples of how to conduct oneself through tough spells.
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