Fathers Impact on Daughters
Father’s impact on daughters are profound. A father’s influence is crucial for his daughter’s healthy development in terms of self-worth, capabilities, and prospects as a future partner and parent. It is a father who gives his daughter a window and platform to enter the real world while the mother offers the safety and security of a nurturing, warm and attentive environment
Fathers impact on daughters sense of self-worth
The way that a father notices and speaks to his daughter’s attributes is the most important influence on the way she sees herself. The lens through which a father looks at and speaks to his daughter determines whether she feels she matters, is worth something, contributes to his (and therefore other people in the outside world) mood and sense of pride, as well as her attractiveness as a female.
When a father is curious about his daughter’s experience from infancy, then he is giving her the powerful message that her needs, experiences and emotions are real and important to him – and in particular that he takes them seriously. That’s how an infant daughter feels safe enough to be herself. When she is reinforced for being herself, she asserts herself as her own person, growing up to think well of herself, her ideas and her way of being in the world.
But if a father shows annoyance or anger at his little daughter’s attempts to get attention and communicate then he gives her the message that she is upsetting him, isn’t wanted and the child becomes afraid not just of her dad but of her own feelings and needs. The father’s impact on his daughter feeling safe enough to have her own mind and not to subjugate it just to please him is the essence of her later ability to speak up, be assertive and innovative.
An article in the 2018 Journal of Family Psychology found that daughters were less lonely as they grew up if they had close relationships with their fathers, reinforcing the father’s impact on daughters.
Fathers impact on daughters belief in themselves – building confidence
A father who engages with his preteen and teenage daughter about her views on current affairs, organizing and planning around the house and family etc. gives her a sense that her mind and smarts are not only worth acknowledging, but have merit and are of equal value to anyone else. The way he engages his daughter in these discussions is particularly important – listening and paying lip service won’t do it, in fact it makes the daughter feel that she is someone to be humored. The father who takes his young daughter seriously and has didactic dialogues with her will make her feel that she is relevant and can be influential in the world.
During the preteen years in particular daughters are shaped by their father’s stance toward them. They not only need to know that they are physically attractive but also that they have good ideas that are worth listening to in their own right. When a father ignores, dismisses or minimizes his daughter’s suggestions; extra-curricular activities; kindness at home and school, school projects and hobbies then his impact is felt in robbing her of her of faith in herself, and it influences her attitude negatively towards pushing the glass ceiling and being an equal partner in her latter adult relationships.
Fathers impact daughters ability to trust others while creating, maintaining and operating healthy boundaries
It is the father’s authority within a family that is the foundation of boundaries both physical and emotional that set the stage for a young girl learning who and what to trust. Fathers impact daughters by being consistent, keeping their word and showing up in their daughters’ lives while facilitating their natural arc towards their autonomy. This is the platform fathers impact daughters regarding protecting her personal space. Initially a father is important in setting ground rules for bed time; screen time; behavior at meal times; phone/text time and behavior with friends and social media; interaction with siblings, and keeping communal spaces tidy. Fathers impact daughter’s especially early on by respecting his daughter’s right to privacy in the bathroom and shower; and the manner of showing affection and gratitude. It is a father who gives his daughter the message that her body belongs to her as she transitions from a toddler to a young girl approaching puberty.
When a father is lax and or inconsistent in maintaining good boundaries that separate his relationship with his partner (the girl’s mother) and that with his daughter, then he creates an atmosphere of confusion, where family interactions use favorites, scapegoats and underdogs as their emotional currency.
Fathers impact on daughters ability to take risks in order to achieve goals
One of the most important tasks of the father for is to teach and encourage his daughter to take risks – facilitating his daughter’s efforts to experiment and try things out, learn from her mistakes and not give up is a highly significant underpinning for later business success. The way that he models this feature in the family is crucial.
Father’s impact daughter’s negatively when they show a reluctance to move outside of their comfort zone. By modeling a stagnant existence within the family the daughter would later feel guilty if she wanted to take risks and go outside the home and community to build her life. That guilt could stop her from following her dreams.
If a father is overprotective and stomps on his daughter’s natural desire to try new experiences in school or move outside the standard curriculum, he strangles her ability to adapt to an ever changing world and turns her into a frightened victim.
Fathers impact on daughters management of competitiveness and envy
When a daughter first feels envy at a new sibling arriving, or mom getting more intimacy with dad than she does – the father’s impact on his daughter molds her ability to get what she wants in the world without destroying others. Helping her understand her envy and deal with it by getting what she wants rather than destroying her new sibling or punishing mom will teach her how to use envy constructively.
If however a father encourages his daughter to use her envy to act competitively so that he becomes the arbiter of who gets his attention, then he makes his daughter dehumanize her mother and siblings who get in her way. That daughter will grow up to be ruthless and possibly amoral in her adult personal and professional relationships..
Fathers impact on daughters ability to develop her own sense of personal authority
A father is the most influential figure in a young girl’s life regarding what is abusive and how to protect herself from being taken advantage of. If he doesn’t make clear demarcation lines about the appropriateness – time, place, context and duration of being yelled at, blamed, punished, cuddled, kissed, watching mature content on screen, witnessing parental fights etc. then the daughter will never learn how to set her own boundaries. She may end up having a high threshold of emotional pain, and a high tolerance for emotional, physical, verbal and or sexual abuse. Alternatively the daughter may become phobic about normal closeness and intimacy – she might experience normal and healthy intimacy with significant others as unbearable and not be able to sustain a healthy romantic relationship as an adult.
Fathers impact on daughters ability to persevere in the face of obstacles
A dad has the important job of making a daughter feel that she isn’t a waste of space if she fails on some task be it sports or academic stuff – making her feel valuable, restoring her sense of purpose and
Playing with a daughter in all stages of her childhood gives a girl a sense that she can win in interactions with men – learn how to strategize and outwit ‘authority’ figures is necessary for a girl to feel confident enough to be a business woman.
copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2018
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