Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

Recently, I have been thinking more and more how I can influence my daughter in a positive direction. Yea, I know you are thinking, Jack, your daughter is just one. You are right; however, it is never too early or too late to have a positive lasting impact on our daughters. When my wife was expecting our second child we were secretly wishing for a second son. It is scary to raise a daughter these days. I have come across a book I would love to share with other fathers of daughters. Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician for more than twenty years, discusses in her book “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters”, the important role of fathers on their developing daughters. I figured I would share a few thoughts and excerpts from the book.

Dr. Meeker reports different studies discussing the long lasting effects of fathers on their daughters. Initially, research focused more on the mother-child relationship. More and more relationship is coming out discussing the role of fathers. Dads got off the hook for some time; however, we are seeing more and more of the long lasting effects fathers have on their daughters. Here are a few points from some of the studies that Dr. Meeker references.

  • Toddlers securely attached to fathers are better at solving problems.
  • Six-month old babies score higher on tests of mental development if their dads are involved in their lives.
  • With dads present in the home, kids manage school stress better.
  • Girls whose fathers provide warmth and control achieve higher academic success.
  • Girls who are close to their fathers exhibit less anxiety and withdrawn behaviors.
  • Girls with fathers that provide a high level of attention are more assertive.
  • Daughters who perceive that their fathers care a lot about them, who feel connected to their fathers, have significantly fewer suicide attempts and fewer instances of body dissatisfaction, depression, low self-esteem, substance use, and unhealthy weight.
  • A girl’s self-esteem has been correlated to her father’s physical affection.
  • Girls with fathers who are involved in their lives have higher quantitative and verbal skills.
  • Girls with good fathers are less likely to flaunt themselves to seek male attention.
  • 76 percent of teen girls said that their fathers influenced their decisions on whether they should become sexually active.

We always need to remember that research reveals patterns and not necessarily the gospel truth. The important thing to remember is that we can help insulate our developing daughters from the unhealthy influences of our culture. I can give you a laundry list of fathers that have highly engaging and positive relationships with their daughters, and their daughters still experience significant struggles. However, we do have a large impact on daughters. Our daughters take cues from us regarding boys, drugs, having sex, friends, school, and self-esteem.

Our relationships with our daughters even have a positive impact on us dads. Research has demonstrated that parenting may increase a man’s emotional growth and increase feelings of value and significance. Thus, not only is it strong fathers, strong daughters, but strong daughters can build us up and make us even stronger dads.