Dads and Daughters: Strengthening the Bond

IMAGE Dads play a critical role in their daughters' development, yet many dads underestimate their significance. According to psychologist Margo Maine, PhD, author of Father Hunger: Fathers, Daughters, and Food, men often "feel the pressure around economics, but don't realize they have a broader role [within the family]."

What Can Fathers Do?

Start Early

Father-daughter closeness begins when your daughter is born. Remember that dads can be just as nurturing and as good at child-rearing as moms! Sharing parenting responsibilities and interacting with your daughter are the beginnings of a positive relationship.

Focus on Puberty and Relationships

Comments and interactions can help or hinder how a girl accepts her body and sexuality, shaping her social interactions with males. By acknowledging your daughter's development, encouraging romances, and painting a realistic picture of yourself, you may be able to increase the odds of your daughter being self-confident and capable of forming positive relationships with men.Dr. Maine adds, "It's really important [that] girls get grounded in a relationship with men early on, one where they can feel respected and valued."

Pay Special Attention to School

A study done by the National Center for Education Statistics looked at the link between fathers' participation in school activities and children's academic success. Co-author Jerry West says, "In general, we find better outcomes for students whose fathers are involved."Create a routine where you check in with your daughter about her education:
  • How is she doing in school overall?
  • Which classes does she excel in?
  • Is she struggling with any subjects?
Forming positive parent-teacher relationships can also go a long way in helping your daughter meet her academic goals.

Teach Self-Reliance

As a dad, you can teach assertiveness, methods for successfully dealing with authority figures, and ways to interact in a team environment. These are skills your daughter will need in the academic and business worlds.What if you feel that you are lacking in these skills? That is not a problem! There are many opportunities—from reading self-help books to joining a support group—to learn more about self-reliance. And by taking the time to improve yourself, you will be modeling positive behavior for your daughter.

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