The family is a training ground for all future relationships. By learning to get along with father and brother, girls mostly learn to get along with their husband, by doing that girls learn about compromise, commitment and consideration. Fathers play an essential role in their daughter`s lives. Fathers can strengthen their relationships with their daughters and explore the tremendous rewards this relationship can bring. Dads can also see what kind of role they play in their daughter`s life.
Many things are learned and many things are taught. Some of the most meaningful moments in a daughter`s life are spent with her father. Fathers can offer solutions to their daughters when problems arise, on the most pivotal issues like sex and dating, body image, alcohol and drugs, media culture and violence, money and responsibility, and the future. In doing so they both illuminate the culture the daughters live in and show them how to guide their daughters toward rewarding, healthy lives.
A daughter`s relationship with her father is usually her first male-female relationship. From fathers`, little girls gain their first reflection of themselves as a female. They develop a sense of acceptance or non-acceptance; they feel valued or discounted. Self-respect is initially based upon respect received from others. Their self-concept as a female person is largely shaped by this early relationship. In short, children regard themselves as they think others regard them and a `Father` is an important person in her life.
Father-daughter relationships are an important place to learn how to negotiate fairly and compromise appropriately. When fathers exercise absolute authority, and rigidly set rules, daughters quickly learn to rebel. If a father is critical and all-powerful, men become the enemy. If a father is fair and listens to his daughter`s thoughts, she will gain self-confidence and pride in her own opinion.
When daughters learn to communicate with their fathers, and trust that their opinion will count, they can develop self-assuredness which will allow them to be assertive and stand up for themselves. This is very different from aggressive reactions, which stem from a sense of powerlessness and combativeness. It is important for dads to listen to their daughters and appreciate their views, even if they don`t agree.
Daughters learn about marriage from watching her parents. If parents treat each other well, this becomes the expectation. If fathers are tyrants, alcoholic or abusive then she considers men as essentially bad. Usually, mothers serve as role models for their daughters. They provide examples of how to be an individual, a mother and a wife. Fathers, however, teach their daughters how to regard themselves, what kinds of relationships are healthy, what to look for in a partner, and what to expect of men in co-parenting relationships.
Every father can make a huge difference in his daughter`s life. As the primary male role model in a girl`s life, fathers influence their daughters in profound ways, from how they see themselves to what they come to expect from men and the world at large. But men often don`t realize the importance of their interactions or may shy away from too close involvement because of their inexperience, or conditioning. Especially as girls move into adolescence, fathers may find themselves feeling distant from their daughters or awkward with the changing dynamics. Communication becomes difficult and parenting issues become more complicated. But this is also the time when daughters most need their fathers to be an even greater presence in their lives.