Both parents have a crucial role in helping their daughter become all that she can be. Yet, mothers and fathers have unique roles in facilitating their daughter’s healthy, secure and successful maturation.
In The Effects of Father Involvement: An Updated Research Summary of the Evidence, Drs. Sarah Allen and Kerry Daly report numerous research findings documenting that fathers’ involvement improves children’s cognitive, academic, emotional and social development.
Cognitively: Some of the findings confirm that “Infants of highly involved fathers are more cognitively competent at 6 months, better problem solvers as toddlers and have higher IQ by age three compared to youngsters whose fathers are less involved.”
Academically: “School age children of involved fathers are better academic achievers, enjoy school more and have fewer behavioral problems.” Eirini Flouri and Ann Buchanan found that “parental involvement at age 7 independently predicted educational attainment by age 20 for both boys and girls.”
Carol and Donald Auster’s research found that “The father is an achievement role model and source of occupational identification for the daughter’s career.” Colloquially, it is said that the father tells the daughter what to become and the mother shows her how to do so.
Emotionally: “Children of attentive fathers had a greater sense of social competence, fewer anxiety symptoms and higher reported levels of happiness.”
Socially: “Adolescents who are securely attached to their fathers report better friendships and peer relationships.” Also, “Father warmth and nurturance significantly predicted children’s moral maturity, solid values and conformity to rules.”
Girls raised by empathic fathers are less likely to become pregnant during adolescence, be abused by boyfriends or become involved in drug abuse or illegal activities.
Conversely, girls who are rejected or not supported by their fathers may falter in life and love. Ronald Rohner international research found that in all cultures, adults who were rejected by a parent in childhood “found it more difficult to form secure and trusting relationships with their intimate partners.” The father is the daughter’s most impactful reciprocal partner role model in her love relationship. She learns from her mother how to be a loving female and from her father how to be loved.
As one daughter who was raised by a very attentive, loving and supportive father, I remember as a child feeling reassured about my worthiness and capabilities. My father’s affirming gaze provided me with the confidence to tackle the hurdles and challenges I faced knowing that I was loved and appreciated regardless of the outcome of my efforts.
This experience of unconditional love by a father is not unique. Women who felt it in childhood can attest to the contribution this early acceptance has had in their lives.
- Honor your role, responsibility and unique privilege as a father in helping your daughter mature to the exceptional woman she can become.
- Guide her lovingly, while affirming her uniqueness and competence.
- Model for her what unconditional love is like and train her to feel deserving of it.