“I’m softer. I feel more concern about the world because of my daughter growing up in it. I’m more aware of my surroundings, negative things like people who look like they are up to no good. I have concern for her safety, which is not something I had to think about before. I want to portray how a man should treat his wife, what she should look for in a significant other by how I treat her Mom.”
– Quote from my husband regarding our 4-year-old daughter
As the song by John Mayer goes, “Fathers be good to your daughters, and daughters will love like you do. Girls become lovers, who turn into mothers, so mothers be good to your daughters, too.”
On the flip side of this, when dads are not present in a daughter’s life, the effects can be devastating. This was my experience growing up, especially after my parents’ split when I was a teenager. Many people believe moms are important in a daughter’s life, which they certainly are, but dads are just as important for several reasons.
Dads are important to their daughters because they will portray what their daughters will eventually pick in a partner someday … no pressure, right? I often joke about this with my husband, but we both understand the significance of his role in our daughter’s life.
It used to really bother me when I would watch a commercial with a dad and daughter, because I never had that closeness with my own dad, and it ended up making me sad. Even after I got married, watching the father/daughter dance at someone’s wedding hurt me every time. I would often leave to go somewhere to have a quiet cry. I am not writing this to sadden people – I’m writing it to bring awareness and the hope that even those who go through life with an absent father can heal and move on.
Two things have helped me with this. First, my faith and love for Jesus have shown me that I am never alone, and that even though I do not have a present earthly father, I have an ever-present and loving heavenly one. Secondly, watching my husband and daughter play, interact, laugh, and love has begun to heal me in ways I never imagined it could have. I no longer feel sad or yearn for that connection with my own dad. Instead, I revel and am often overjoyed to watch my sweet girl get the connection with her dad that I never had.
This is part of the reason I believe God gifted me with my daughter, for somewhat of a do-over. Having a daughter has helped me grow, heal, learn, and become a better version of myself that would have never happened without her. Along with this, her interaction with my husband is mesmerizing, sometimes. I now yearn for her to have absolute love, adoration, and support from him rather than yearn for it for myself (from my own dad, of course).
Another reason dads are important in their daughters’ lives is that they are the first teacher on how men should treat them. Dads can teach their daughters how to stand up for themselves and how to love themselves so that they will not look for this love in another man. It is proven that girls who are close to their dads will have less desire to search for this love in someone else…especially during the teen years.
Here is some research that supports my notion:
The following quote comes from a Psychology Today article titled, ” How Dads Shape Daughters’ Relationships”:
“If there was a dad or other male caregiver in your early life, he probably set the first model of how a relationship with a man would be. And for better or for worse, regardless of circumstances, children love their parents/caregivers unconditionally and accept the attachment and love that is (or is not!) given in return as normal. Our first attachment patterns shape our expectations for future attachments.
Overtly and also unintentionally, our parents teach us how to approach our lives and relationships – they teach us how to express and receive love, how to handle disagreements, how to process feelings, etc. Our parents shape and color the lens through which we see and organize meaning about other human interactions. So a woman’s early relationship with dad, who is usually the first male object of her love, shapes her conscious and unconscious perceptions of what she can expect and what is acceptable in a romantic partner.”
Of course, dads are very important in their sons’ lives as well, and so are moms –but for this article, I am going to focus on why dads are important in their daughters’ lives because I find many people do not understand why this is so vital.
I cannot tell you how many teen girls I have seen in my practice who report to me that they are not close to their dads. Sadly, some have never been close to them, and others have grown apart as they became a teenager. I understand that this can be such an awkward phase for dads and daughters, but it doesn’t have to be! Having a ritual with your daughter on a weekly basis that starts young and never ends is so important. It not only helps the bond with dad and daughter, it also sets the tone for her as she gets older.
Recently I have coached many of my teenage clients to start planning a daddy/daughter date night with their dads once a week. A lot of them ask me, “What will we do? We don’t have anything in common!” I then start asking them what they like to do and what their dad likes to do. Most of the time, we can find a common ground where they can relate.
My husband and I are going to start this tradition with our daughter beginning next month. I hope to get them signed up to go to a daddy/daughter dance together, where they can dress up and have a great evening just the two of them. She is only 4 ½, but I am already seeing that this is needed and necessary as she craves time with her dad when he gets home from work. No matter what, I am going to make this happen, and if you are reading this and can relate, then you need to make it happen, too!
Another reason why it’s important for dads to bond with their daughters is because God calls you to do it. If you don’t agree, here are some Scripture verses from the Bible that discuss a father’s role:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-9
“Behold, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” – Psalm 127:3-5
“May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace.” – Psalm 144:12
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ – which is the first commandment with a promise ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’” – Ephesians 6:1-3
These are just a few Scripture verses that I pulled up when looking up dads and daughters in the Bible. These can also relate to sons as well, but hopefully you see the point. Dads are called to be a strong example in their daughters’ and sons’ lives, no matter what. And of course, children are called to obey their parents and respect them even when they are old. This can be hard, however, when the relationship between a daughter and her dad is not a good one.
I do not believe that God calls you to suffer from physical, mental, or sexual abuse, so if this is your relationship with your father, then please seek out help from a professional such as a counselor, doctor, or teacher. I also want you to know that this is not your fault, and that God loves you. He can turn evil into good in any situation, no matter how big or small.
Hopefully you are beginning to see and understand why a man is so significant in his daughter’s life. He is her protector, her supporter, her nurturer, her healer, her example of what men should be like in life.
Here is another excerpt that I feel explains this well from the article I referenced above:
“In my years of psychology practice, I’ve met very few women who did not unconsciously or consciously pick a romantic partner based on the characteristics of her father. I don’t mean only physical characteristics, although that can also be present – I mean relational pattern characteristics. Even the women that state they chose partners who were opposite of their dad are basing their decisions on the relationship (or non-relationship) with dad – a choice to go opposite is still a choice based on dad.”
I hope you have found some knowledge, peace, and understanding from reading this article. If nothing else, I hope you go out and make your relationship with your daughter a much better one.
I am here to help teens and families better themselves, their lives, and the relationships within their family units. A parent’s role in their children’s lives is vital to their survival and how they navigate this world. Let me help you strengthen your parenting skills, or help your relationships flourish instead of flounder.
“Dad,” courtesy of Barney Moss, Flickr Creative Commons; “Dad’s Day Out,” courtesy of Public Affairs Office Fort Wainwright, Flickr Creative Commons; “Happy Day,” courtesy of Nan Palmero, Flickr Creative Commons; “Sunset,” courtesy of Micolo J, Flickr Creative Commons