Conversations about the importance of fathers usually revolve around sons although fathers also affect the lives of their daughters. As we continue on the subject, I seek to establish the roots of the intense connection between fathers and their daughters and how this connection contributes to the family dynamics, wellness and esteem of the girl child.
Carefully-done studies show that fathers have positive influences on their children throughout life, although the details differ depending on the age of the child and whether the child is a boy or a girl. In particular, a father’s influence in his daughter’s life shapes her self-esteem, self-image, confidence and opinions of men.
I asked some fathers if it’s true that fathers are closer to their daughters than their sons? Most believed so against the cultural norm that men prefer to father sons than daughters. Marvin (34) believed that if the family consists of two children, a girl and a boy, the girl will most likely be Daddy’s Girl and the father’s favorite. Dumisani (44), a father of 3 daughters and a son, proudly noted that although he loves his children the same, his heart is closer to the daughters.
Nielsen notes that a girl who has a secure, supportive, communicative relationship with her father is less likely to get pregnant as a teenager and less likely to become sexually active in her early teens. This, in turn, leads to waiting longer to get married and to have children—largely because she is focused on achieving her educational goals first.
Despite boyish traits sometimes, girls with a close-knit relationship with their fathers will naturally look up to their fathers and will want to follow in their fathers foot-steps. Also her relationship with her father is likely to influences her academic performance and, as a consequence, her career success and financial well-being. So how does a father influence his daughter’s romantic life—who she dates, when she starts having sex, and the quality of her relationships with men?
Actively-involved fathers provide their daughters with a life-long example of what it means to be a good man, a good husband, a good parent, and a good person, and their daughters make wiser choices in their own lives as a result of the lessons learned while growing up. As Radin puts it, it is these dads who contribute to the birth of a warm, mature and independent girl who possesses high self-esteem.
Michael Austin says what matters in the father-daughter relationship is that Dad seeks to live a life of integrity and honesty, avoiding hypocrisy and admitting his own shortcomings so that she has a realistic and positive example of how to deal with the world. He should try to model a reflective approach to life’s big questions so that she can seek to do the same.
Many people today still think that a girl’s rightful place is by her mother’s side and the son by his father’s, sharing secrets and spending time. However, this neglects the bond that is between father and daughter. Depending on how this bond is built, it can affect her either positively or negatively. Make an effort to build a close bond with your daughter. If you hadn’t, start considering ways to do this. Make her that Daddy’s Girl!