Fathers and daughters share a unique bond. Women lucky enough to have had a good relationship with their fathers as children can look back fondly on special occasions such as birthdays and family parties, whilst also treasuring memories of everyday pleasures like trips to the park or cozy bedtime stories.
Not only does a girl’s relationship with her father shape her childhood experience, but it will also influence how she interacts with men in her adult years. If a father is absent or erratic in his behavior, this sets his daughter up for feelings of low self-esteem and trouble with trusting men in general. All parents should therefore appreciate the importance of understanding the father’s role in his daughter’s life, as his presence (or absence) will play a role in her self-image and wellbeing for decades to come.
Research has shown that women who enjoy more supportive, close relationships with their fathers tend to be less stressed and to view themselves in a more positive light compared with those who have more conflicted or toxic bonds.
So what are the traits a man should look to develop in order to build a strong father daughter relationship?
Model a Respectful Attitude Towards Women
A good father does not make sexist jokes or speak disrespectfully about women. He has the intelligence to realize that his daughter’s self-image will suffer if he does so, and knows that it is important to uphold the idea that women are of equal value to men.
Inspire His Daughter to Reach Her Goals
A father should encourage his daughter to follow her dreams and show her that he believes she has what it takes to succeed. Girls habitually look to both parents for guidance and support, so fathers must make the effort to inspire their daughters whenever possible/
Teach His Daughter That She Is Worthy of a Respectful Partner
A father who treats his daughter – and his daughter’s mother – with respect is sending a clear message that women deserve good treatment from the men in their lives. This can make all the difference when his daughter begins dating. If she is used to positive support and kind behavior, she is less likely to tolerate it from abusive dates and partners.
Make Time for His Daughter, No Matter How Busy He Is
One of the most important things a father can do is simply show that he is willing to be around. He should make the effort to attend special events at his daughter’s school, engage her in conversation, and take an interest in all areas of her life. This will build her self-esteem and let her know that she is a worthwhile individual.
Enjoy Activities Together
Healthy activities such as walking, biking and swimming are a great way of building memories and teaching your daughter that exercise is an important habit. Keeping fit will help her maintain a good body image, which will be a real asset as she develops into a teenager.
Be Consistently Loving but Firm
Daughters who do not receive affection and approval from their fathers are likely to seek it elsewhere as teenagers and adults, and this may lead to an unhealthy dependency on men. Fathers can prevent this happening by telling their daughters how special and loved they are, whilst maintaining appropriate levels of discipline and upholding firm boundaries.
Know When to Ask for Forgiveness
No father can be perfect all the time. When you mess up, explain how you plan to do better next time and tell her that you are sorry. For example, if you accidentally miss her piano recital, plan an outing to make it up to her. Ask for her forgiveness and learn from your mistakes.
Always Treat Her Mother Well, Even If They Are Not Together
If a daughter witnesses her father treating her mother poorly, she will receive negative or mixed messages about how men and women relate to one another. Even if you are not with her mother, always take the high road and act in a civil manner.
Take Her on Special Trips and Outings
Let your daughter feel special by making the time to take her out on a regular basis. A simple trip to the park with a picnic is enough to show her that you care enough to make her a priority. Take the opportunity to show her how men should treat women – with respect and dignity. Engage her in conversation and talk to her as an equal.
Show Her That Men Can Be Comfortable with Their Feminine Side
Even if you are a traditionally macho man, it is healthy to show your gentle side once in a while. Allow your young daughter to paint your nails, or why not go to a spa for the day when she is a little older? You should also be comfortable showing affection through kind words and gestures. This will allow her to grow up with a balanced view of the different ways in which men can behave.
Remind Her That She Is Beautiful Inside and Out
There is nothing wrong with telling your daughter that she is pretty, but remember to tell her how much you value her intellectual abilities and character. This will prevent her from relying on her looks to carry her through life and from placing too much value on what others think of her face and body.
Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io
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