DADDY’ S GIRL! Encouraging dad-daughter relationship

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Father’s Day is here and what a better moment than now to reflect on fathers and the role they play in their daughter’s lives and their influence on women? At a time when many feel there is a crisis in fatherhood, this article highlights the impact of fathers in their daughter’s lives and why mums ought to encourage this relationship.

The rising number of absentee dads, alcoholic dads, and violent dads is devastating especially since fathers play such a critical and vital role in the family unit. Numerous studies have shown that children who grow up with fathers who are involved in their day-to-day activities have an advantage both socially and academically over children who have a distant or no relationship with their dads.

From childhood, girls learn to draw conclusions about what men are like from the men in their lives. Therefore, the man in her life – be it a father, brother, uncle or any other close male figure – becomes her gauge for what to expect of men. As a mother, your relationship with the father of your kids is of significant importance to your daughter because it forms a measure of the relationship she expects to have once she starts dating.

For most little girls, their father is their first love and they adore everything about him. His opinion of them is so crucial as they often look up to their fathers for genuine affirmation and admiration in order to grow up as independent and confident young women. Fathers teach their daughters that they can be happy on their own, which is so crucial as this helps a girl not to be desperate for a man’s attention because she already has it in her father.

For any woman to fully understand the importance of a father-daughter relationship, she needs to re-look at her own relationship with her dad, understand how that bond has shaped her, and go on to encourage the man in her life to cultivate a father-daughter relationship with his daughter, no matter the circumstances.

Many women underestimate the importance of a father yet a father’s presence or lack of in his daughter’s life will affect how she will relate to all men who come after him and can impact her view of herself and psychological well-being. Three ways you can encourage a healthy father-daughter relationship include:

Creating some family traditions. Even if you are estranged from the father of your children, you ought to encourage him to set time aside for his daughter. Encourage more father-daughter time by ensuring they spend more time alone without the interference of other family members. This could be achieved through setting traditions such as the dad dropping or picking his daughter from school, going shopping together once a month, going swimming over the weekends or doing any other activity together regularly, as this will give them time to bond.

Respecting the father. Avoid the temptation to demean or dismiss fathers in front of their children, as this is likely to influence how the children will look up to him. By overtly showing respect to the father of your children, you train them to respect him too, thus making a father-daughter relationship even easier.

Model positive relationships. Daughters watch their dad’s relationship with their mom. If a dad models a healthy communication and respect with his daughter’s mom, even if they are no longer together, then this shapes his daughter’s view and expectation from men. If a dad is absent, as a mother, seek out another male role model for your daughter. This could be a relative or even a family friend. Studies show that a coach, leader, or other involved male can provide positive reinforcement to help a young woman develop healthy femininity. So invest in this.   

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Published June 2016