A positive dad/daughter relationship can have a huge impact on a young girl’s life and even determines whether or not she develops into a strong, confident woman. You name an area of life and we can point you to research showing the negative or positive impact depending on a woman’s interaction with her dad. Let’s just look at a few areas of research done by the Institute for Family Studies.
Career Path: “As you might guess, daughters whose fathers have been actively engaged throughout childhood in promoting their academic or athletic achievements and encouraging their self-reliance and assertiveness are more likely to graduate from college and to enter the higher paying, more demanding jobs traditionally held by males…Interestingly, too, when female college students were asked what they would do if their fathers disapproved of their career plans, the overwhelming majority said they would not change their plans. But the daughters who communicated the most comfortably and had the closest relationships with their fathers were more willing to reconsider their plans if their fathers disapproved.”
Romantic Relationship: “Another question on many people’s minds is: 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? Not surprisingly, 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.”
Self-Worth: “Their better relationships with men may also be related to the fact that well-fathered daughters are less likely to become clinically depressed or to develop eating disorders. They are also less dissatisfied with their appearance and their body weight. As a consequence of having better emotional and mental health, these young women are more apt to have the kinds of skills and attitudes that lead to more fulfilling relationships with men…An emerging body of research suggests one more way that dads may shape their daughters’ mental health and relationships in adulthood: scholars have found an intriguing link between the way daughters deal with stress as adults and the kind of relationships they had with their dads during childhood. “
Read the full article “How Dads Affect Their Daughters into Adulthood”.
Understand, this is not a “christian” research institute. This is a research company that has identified a need in our world and is trying to understand the positive and negative affects of the dad/daughter relationship.
This past year I became a dad of a daughter. I longed for the day that I would hold my baby girl, and when the day came, there was this overwhelming since of responsibility and fear. Do you remember that day? Even though there was so much uncertainty in that moment, I knew, without a doubt, I would be her “protector.” I mean, protection, now that, I can do. I grew up in a house full of boys and one of the things my dad taught us growing up was to protect our mother. Yes… we are momma’s boys. Protection is valuable but it’s not the only thing our daughters need from their dads.
A dad’s emotional investment also helps shape his daughter’s self esteem, self confidence and self worth. The way you live and interact with your daughter will pave the way for success in her future relationships, education, and spiritual growth.
Whether you are reading this research for the first time or it’s a recap, the fact that you are reading this article let’s me know you believe a dad/daughter relationship is important. How we build that relationship is paramount. This does not happen without being intentional with our approach. Here are three ways to be intentional about your relationship with your daughter.
Be Intentional with…
- conversation…Ask questions about her day…what she learned in school, what she learned in church, what her favorite things are, etc. By asking questions, you let her know you are interested in the things she enjoys. This will allow your relationship to go from just “protection” to “connection.”
- time…Time is one gift that cannot be replaced and we do not have much of it. A phrase we use often in Family Ministry is, “It’s Just a Phase, Don’t Miss It.” I can remember when all Kit would do is sleep, eat, and poop. Now (10 months old), she is standing, babbling and discovering so many objects to put in her mouth. All that to say, time flies. Not only does the quantity of time matter, but the quality of time is just as important. Key word here is engage. We not only need to occupy the same space as our daughters, but we need to be present.
- service/sacrifice…We teach our daughters about love and sacrifice by how well we serve not only them, but our families, especially our wives. Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” What better way to teach our little girls about the love of Christ than to be an example of what that looks like. Ultimately, our number one goal as a dad is to help our daughter discover the love of God through Jesus Christ; to help her understand her self worth, self confidence and self esteem are not wrapped up in the things of this world, but in Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of her faith.
I am grateful to be on this dads of daughters journey with you.