Fathering

Dads, Daughters and Valentine’s Day

Dads, don’t forget one of the important women in your life on Valentine’s Day – your daughter.

It’s never too early to establish a Valentine’s tradition with her that lets your daughter know how much she is loved by that special man in her life. A father’s love profoundly impacts a daughter. In fact, it has been said that a woman takes her relationship with her father, good or bad, to the grave.

The father/daughter relationship plays an integral role in the life of a young girl. It is a relationship that will give her the self-confidence to deal with challenging issues in her life. When fathers are not engaged in the lives of their daughters, 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 without a relationship with their father 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 seven times more likely to get pregnant as an adolescent.

But girls who grow up with an involved father have a reduced risk of early puberty, risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy. Strong father/daughter relationships impact a daughter’s ability to trust and relate to the men in her life 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 are not living in the same household.

One woman recalls how special Valentine’s Day was for her because she knew her father would give her a chocolate heart every year. When her father divorced her mother and moved out, the Valentine’s tradition ceased to happen 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. Small traditions such as weekly phone calls or conversations, writing notes to each other or a daddy/daughter date can go a long way in strengthening that special bond.

It is important for girls who have no involved 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–a traditional father, a long-distance dad, stepdad, grandfather, uncle or other father figure–it is important for you to play an active role in the life of these young women. Make an effort each Valentine’s Day to reach out to your daughter and strengthen the bond between the two of you.

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