Fathering

Dads, Daughters and Valentine’s Day

Dad, don’t forget an important woman in your life on Valentine’s Day – your daughter.

It’s never too early to establish a Valentine’s tradition to express your love to your daughter. A father’s love profoundly impacts a girl, and many believe that a woman takes her relationship with her father (good or bad) to the grave.

The father/daughter relationship plays an integral role in a young girl’s life. It can even give her the self-confidence to deal with challenging life issues. When fathers are not engaged, however, the opposite happens. Research shows the girls often struggle with abandonment issues, lack of self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness. They’re also especially vulnerable to predators.

Many women who grow up without a father will float through life, looking for someone to fill that void. Girls who grow up with absent fathers are at greater risk for experiencing problems in school, abusing drugs and alcohol and participating in risky sexual behavior. In fact, adolescent girls without fathers are twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity – and they’re seven times more likely to get pregnant as a teen.

However, having an active father reduces the risk of early puberty, risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy. Additionally, strong father/daughter relationships impact a daughter’s ability to trust and relate to men in a healthy way. Daughters who have a healthy bond with their father tend to be more self-reliant and confident and less likely to develop eating disorders. They also tend to perform better in school.

The father/daughter bond is even more important when the father and daughter live in different households.

One woman recalls how special Valentine’s Day was for her as a child. She knew her father would give her a chocolate heart every year. When her father divorced her mother and left, the Valentine’s tradition ended and left her with only memories. Decades later, she still wonders why he quit giving her the Valentine heart.

Keep in mind that little things can mean a lot to daughters. Even traditions such as weekly conversations, writing notes to each other or a daddy/daughter date can strengthen that special bond.

It is important for girls without an active father to have a good, positive and strong male role model in their lives. Think about doing something special for these young girls. Perhaps you could include them in your own family or community activities.

No matter what kind of father you are – traditional, long-distance, stepdad, grandfather, uncle or other father figure – your involvement impacts these young women. Reach out each Valentine’s Day and strengthen the bond you have with your girl.

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