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Fathers And Daughters: How Making Time For A Daddy-Daughter Day Helps Shape Future Lives

Fathers And Daughters: How Making Time For A Daddy-Daughter Day Helps Shape Future Lives

Does fatherhood matter anymore?

Wisdom is justified by her children. What our daughters become tomorrow is very much tied to what we invest in them early on. My wife and I have decided that around 99% of the anxiety we feel in the home is the result of wanting to do something else apart from spending time with our kids. I have three little girls and a boy, all under the age of 10. They’re beautiful kids and I love them very much. But I’m also selfish. It’s a contradiction, I know, but I would often rather spend time sitting here in front of my computer blogging than spend a half an hour playing Leggo with the kids.

This is no minor matter, and I know it. Research over the years has demonstrated that the quality of father-daughter relationships invariably affects the relationships these women may likely have with men throughout their adult lives. The relationship daughters have with their fathers may also affect the ability to handle stress, as well as their self-perception.[1]

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Having worked in the mental health field for many years and, in particular, specializing in anorexia nervosa in girls and women, I am all too aware of the commonality between mental health and father-daughter relationships. With that in mind, I have tried to implement time each week where I can invest in my daughter’s lives. I’m not just killing time each Saturday when I meet with my girls. Instead, I want to invest in them a dignity and a confidence that will go with them throughout their lives.

Being a Model of Manhood

I’m aware that it’s a popular pastime to bash masculinity. Nevertheless, I want to provide my girls with the best model of decent manhood in the hope that they will love it, and look for a man who possesses those same qualities or character.[2]

I want my daughters to accept nothing less from a man than complete honesty. So, I am trying to be an honest man.

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I want my daughters to accept nothing less than a hard-working man. And so, I am trying to be a hard-working man.

Of course, I realize that my girls may decide not to marry a man at all. But as long as they’re living in this world, they are going to have to navigate and negotiate with men, and I want them to conduct those negotiations and build those relationships with confidence and integrity.

Being a Model of Intimacy

There are justifiable reasons that masculinity has received such a beating over the last few years. There is a kind of masculinity that has been dishing out abuse for way too long. In Australia, where I live, such cases are still being exposed through our own shameful, but necessary Royal Commissions. In a culture where women are often mistreated by men, a suspicion develops wherever we see intimacy between a man and a woman. This is especially true when it comes to the bond between a father and his daughter.

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For fear of recriminations, many fathers have begun to distance themselves from their daughters. This poses a dilemma for many fathers. If I am a distant or an indifferent father towards my daughter, then there’s a good chance she will marry a man who is also distant and aloof.

Young girls need intimacy. They need to know what genuine affection looks like. They need to be able to tell the difference between appropriate affection and inappropriate affection. I want to affirm my daughters in their appearance, their ability, and their intellect. A father’s mood can seriously impact his daughter’s own emotional stability and power to make good decisions. I want my daughters to know that their father loves them and I plan to show it with hugs and kisses and affirmations.

My premise is that the more I teach them what healthy intimacy and affection looks like, the more capable they will be in identifying inappropriate and abusive intimacy later on in life.

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This is what daddy-daughter day looks like in our house. Whether it’s a swim at the beach, a game of tennis, or working in the veggie garden in our backyard. Every encounter with my daughters is an opportunity to present them with the kind of qualities I want them to be drawn to later in life. Every encounter I have with my daughters is an opportunity to model true masculinity. The kind that will serve and protect and cherish.

My hope is that as they grow up and see these things in me, however imperfectly, they will learn to love them and adopt them as the standards for their own lives. I am hoping they will judge the men they meet by worthy standards that I have tried to set as a father.

But, and this is crucial, such standards will only be embraced as I take the time to be with them and they take the time to treasure them.

Reference

[1] http://www.medicaldaily.com/why-father-daughter-relationship-so-important-246744
[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-out/201307/how-dads-shape-daughters-relationships

More by this author

David Trounce

Business Consultant

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

Reference

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