Fathers and Daughters: Eye Opening Facts

By Linda Nielsen, Ed.D.
Author of Embracing Your Father: Building the Relationship You Want with Your Dad

Healthy Lunchbox

As the parent of a daughter or as someone whose spouse has a daughter, we strengthen father-daughter relationships in our families by being able to separate “fact from fiction”. Despite what we see in many movies, TV shows, advertisements, and children’s books, recent national statistics and recent research from leading experts in psychology and sociology, show several facts to consider:

  • Fathers generally have as much or more impact as mothers do in the following areas of their daughters’ lives: (1) achieving academic and career success—especially in math and science (2) creating a loving, trusting relationship with a man (3) dealing well with people in authority—especially men (4) Being self-confident and self-reliant (5) Being willing to try new things and to accept challenges (6) Maintaining good mental health (no clinical depression, eating disorders, or chronic anxiety) (7) Expressing anger comfortably and appropriately—especially with men

  • Mothers and daughters generally know each other better and spend more time together throughout their lives than fathers and daughters.

  • Too many daughters regret not having gotten to know their father very well while he was still alive.

  • Our society emphasizes the importance of mother-daughter relationships more than father-daughter relationships.

  • Most children’s books, TV programs, and movies send the message that fathers and daughters are not supposed to know each other as well or spend as much time together as mothers and daughters.

  • Daughters who are raised by single fathers are just as well adjusted and as happy as daughters raised by single mothers.

  • Fathers and daughters are usually closer when the mother works full time outside the home while the children are growing up.
  • The more hours a mother works and the higher her income, the more time the father spends with their children.

  • Most fathers want to spend more time with their children, but can’t because of their jobs. Realities: (1) Eighty percent of the fathers in our country earn most of the money for their families. (2) Counting the time spent commuting, working, doing house and yard work, and being with the kids, the average father has 5 hours less free time each week than the average employed mother. (3)On average, employed fathers work 10 more hours a week than employed mothers.

  • Many fathers believe that their wives and daughters’ feelings for them are partly—or sometimes largely—based on money.

  • A father usually has a closer relationship with his kids when the mother lets everyone in the family know how much she appreciates his ways of parenting—especially if his way of relating to the kids isn’t exactly like hers.

  • A daughter has a better relationship with her father when her mother does not rely on her for advice or comfort on adult issues—especially issues involving the parents’ relationship with each other.

  • When parents are unhappily married, most children side with their mother against their father.

  • Sadly, there are mothers who feel uncomfortable or jealous with the idea that their daughter might share as much time or as much personal information with her father as she does with her mother.

A nationally recognized expert on father-daughter relationships whose work has been discussed in the Wall Street Journal as well as in popular magazines, Dr. Linda Nielsen’s most recent book is Embracing Your Father: Building the Relationship You Want with Your Dad. A psychologist and professor at Wake Forest University, she is the author of two books on adolescent psychology. Having worked with daughters for over 30 years, since 1990 she has been teaching the only college course in the country devoted exclusively to father-daughter relationships. Through her course and her writing, she has helped hundreds of daughters strengthen or reestablish their relationships with their fathers – especially daughters whose parents are divorced. Visit Dr. Nielsen at www.wfu.edu/~nielsen.

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