Beth is a 26-year-old church secretary. Recently, a friend noticed that Beth was in a particularly good mood. The friend commented that she was glowing and asked if her boyfriend had asked her to marry him.
“Her response took me by surprise,” said Ken Canfield, speaker and author of Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers andThe Heart of a Father. “She told me her father initiated a phone call to her for the first time in a very long time. I noticed she had flowers on her desk and I asked who sent her flowers.
“With a huge smile, she told me her dad sent them to her for her birthday. Beth’s response to her father’s attention made me realize that even grown women hunger for love, attention and affirmation from their father.”
Research from the University of Canterbury and Vanderbilt University shows that fathers provide unique benefits to their daughters through their active and positive presence from birth through adulthood.
“Many men operate off of the premise that if they weren’t involved in their daughter’s life as she was growing up that it is too late to make a difference,” Canfield said. “Thinking that the die is cast or the deal is done because our children are grown is something we must re-examine, because it simply is not true. In a parallel vein, research shows the devastating impact of divorce affects adult children deeply. Contrastingly, the continued investment in your child’s life even when they are parents of your grandchildren will reap tremendous benefits for you and them.”
Time studies show that men tend to spend more time with their sons growing up than they do with their daughters. Fathers tend to back away from their daughters during the pre-adolescent and adolescent time period, but the need for attention and affection during that time period is even more important.
“When a father abandons a relationship with his daughter, she can become frozen in time relationally with the opposite sex,” Canfield said. “A 50-year-old woman may look like an adult on the outside, but on the inside she is still working on issues that should have been attended to by a healthy, engaged father.”
According to the research, girls who don’t have a healthy relationship with their father will look for other ways to contribute to their development when it comes to relating to men.
“When you are frozen relationally, it is difficult to know your place and how to develop a healthy relationship because you are working from a point of need instead of working out of a position of co-equal,” Canfield said. “There is a void in her life and the search to fill that void prompts her to take risks in relationships which usually result in some really poor choices.”
According to Canfield, the healing and restoration that can take place in father-daughter relationships is limitless. Here are Canfield’s tips to get you started.