When Dad is active and involved, daughters benefit.
Beth, a 26-year-old secretary was in a particularly good mood. She was actually glowing when a friend asked if her boyfriend had proposed to her.
“Her response took me by surprise,” says Ken Canfield, author of Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers and The 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 something. Even grown women hunger for love, attention and affirmation from their father.”
Research from Canterbury and Vanderbilt Universities shows that from birth on, a father’s activity and presence uniquely benefits their daughters.
“Many men operate off of the premise that if they were uninvolved in their daughter’s life as she was growing up, it is too late to make a difference,” Canfield says. “Thinking that the die is cast or the deal is done because our children are grown is something we must re-examine. 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.”
Studies reveal that men tend to spend more time with their sons than they do with their daughters. In fact, fathers tend to back away from the father-daughter relationship during pre-adolescence and adolescence. However, a girl’s 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 says. “A 50-year-old woman may look like an adult, but on the inside she is still working on issues that should have been attended to by a healthy, engaged father.”
Based on research, we know a few more things about these relationships. Without a healthy relationship with their father, girls will find 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. It’s because you are working from a point of need instead of working out of a position of co-equal,” Canfield says. “There is a void in her life. The search to fill that void prompts her to take risks in relationships, which usually result in some really poor choices.”
According to Canfield, limitless healing and restoration can take place in father-daughter relationships. Here are Canfield’s tips:
Initiate communication with your adult daughter. Affirm her for the positive contributions she has made to your life or in the lives of others.
Consider asking for forgiveness. The three toughest things for fathers to say are: “I was wrong, I am sorry, and will you forgive me?” Use these to deepen your relationship with your daughter.
Ask your daughter for three ways you can support her in the coming year.
Ask your child’s mother (who is an adult daughter) to describe how her father influenced her most significantly.
Affirm your daughter’s femininity by being sensitive to her emotional highs and lows.
Cultivate an atmosphere of “no-strings-attached” love in your home. Be ready to listen to and support your children in every challenge.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/TheValueOfFatherDaughterRelationships-e1584128750362.jpg6861400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-10-19 00:00:002022-04-12 10:11:55The Value of Father-Daughter Relationships
Jeff Harrell worked long hours in the restaurant business when his daughter was born. Alyssa was 3 months old when Harrell realized that she clearly had no interest in being with him.
“That’s when I knew things had to change,” shares Harrell. “I did not want my child to grow up not knowing me. My wife and I decided that I would quit my job, although I didn’t have another job offer.”
While Harrell was stressed about leaving his job, he also felt a sense of relief because he believed better times were ahead. Fast forward more than 20 years, and daughters Alyssa and Emily will be the first to tell you that their relationship with their father is special.
“I think one of the big things people love about coming to our house is hanging out with my dad,” Alyssa say. “More times than I can count, guys would come over, but they weren’t really here to see me or my sister. They were looking for my dad. He is a smart person and they can talk with him. He doesn’t tell them that their mistakes are ok and he encourages them to do better. Although he isn’t their bud, they open up to him and he doesn’t judge them.”
Alyssa and Emily have a special bond with their dad, but that doesn’t mean they always agree with his rules.
“My curfew was earlier than all our friends,” Emily says. “After dances, I had to come home instead of staying out with my friends. At the time that really irritated me because it seemed like I was the only one that had all these rules. Now I’m grateful.”
Their dad instilled in them the value of living a meaningful and impactful life. He also taught them the importance of staying away from compromising situations.
“Both of our parents gave us boundaries,” Alyssa says. “I know that was a good thing. We have friends who are jealous of our relationship with our dad.”
Harrell has no regrets about making career moves to be home with his girls.
While some dads work hard and think they have earned the right to play golf on Saturday, Harrell believes he has earned the right to raise his children and that should be his main focus.
“I have one shot to get this right,” Harrell says. “You don’t get to check certain boxes about what you will and won’t do as a dad. All the boxes are already checked. I signed up for the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Here are a few things Harrell has learned about a father’s love that he wants fellow dads to remember:
Keep in mind your kids can either get wisdom and knowledge from you or they can get it from someone else.
They can either spend time with you or someone else.
Children can learn from suffering the consequences or seek wisdom instead.
Dolls, tea parties, race cars, concerts and Muppet theater are all great ways to spend your time.
If the relationship isn’t there before your kids leave home, it won’t be there after they leave.
“You may think your kids don’t really need you, but that’s not true,” Harrell says. “Being 100 percent involved may cost you monetarily now, but in the end it pays off in dividends you can’t buy.”
He should be a man of good character and conscience.
He should be a man who will make a good father and be a good provider.
The last rule was: No asthmatics. (Her father was a doctor and an asthmatic.)
Dafoe Whitehead has been married to a man who exuded all of these qualities for more than 40 years. The one area in which she rebelled: her husband is an asthmatic.
“Things are different now for girls,” says Dafoe Whitehead. “Both of my girls are single and in their 30s. In college, someone told one of my daughters that to think about marriage shows a lack of ambition.
“The reality is, we have left a lot of teaching about love, sex and marriage to the popular culture – reality TV, celebrity gossip, etc. Young women today hear messages of heartbreak and failure, heartbreak and cheating, heartbreak and lying. There isn’t a lot out there about being successful in marriage.”
According to Dafoe Whitehead, only 20 percent of young adults came from broken homes in the late 70s compared to 40 percent in the late 90s. Many women have personal experience with divorce. These young people gather a lot of misinformation along the way that, if acted upon, will significantly lower their chances of marital success.
“I believe there are five pervasive messages of failure that young women are receiving today,” Dafoe Whitehead says.
These misleading messages for girls about successful marriage are:
Teenage sex has nothing to do with having a healthy marriage later. Two-thirds of today’s teens believe it is OK to have sex if you are in love. Unfortunately, the consequences of teen sex can last a lifetime–but the relationship usually doesn’t.
It is OK to have kids first because you can find a guy later. The highest percentage of unwed births today are to women in their 20s. Although they hope to find a guy later on, evidence shows that girls’ chances of a successful marriage, or ever marrying at all, decline.
People should live together. The evidence suggests that living together does not increase one’s chances of having a successful marriage, but there is strong evidence that it increases the chances for divorce.
You cannot prepare for a healthy, successful marriage. There are many who believe having several bad relationships is the only way to have a good one, and that heartbreak is unavoidable.
Your chances of divorce cannot be changed. The mantra for today’s young people is, “Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce.” They believe that a successful marriage is a roll of the dice. Not true. There is a lot you can do.
“The truth is, young women in their teens and 20s should have tremendous hope for a successful marriage in the future,” Dafoe Whitehead says.
A lot can be done for girls in their teen years to prepare for a healthy and successful marriage later.
Making a Love Connection is an excellent resource to help teens make healthy decisions. At the heart of its hopeful message is the issue of sequence or timing. Young women can significantly improve their chances of having a healthy marriage by finishing high school, waiting until after their teen years to marry and having children after marrying. This sequential order also dramatically decreases the chances of poverty or divorce.
If you are looking for a committed relationship, don’t settle for any old guy, and don’t settle for living together. Most women want a committed relationship.
Marriage is typically a public ceremony, leaving no doubt regarding the couple’s commitment to each other. Moving in with someone is private, and the only witnesses may be the moving people. One young lady said, “I really didn’t care about wedding vows, but when I lived with my boyfriend we didn’t vow to do anything.”
If you want a healthy marriage, consider these things.
Plan to complete your education in your 20s.
In general, research shows that people who marry in their 20s are distinctly happier than those who marry later.
Date with the intention and thought of marrying. Know what you are looking for in a mate and don’t date guys who aren’t marriage-minded. Frequent places where you are likely to meet the kind of person you’d want to marry.
Don’t wait until you are engaged to get marriage or premarital education. Get as much relationship education as you can, value the knowledge and share it with others. People who know better do better.
Finally, consider a small wedding. Many people delay the ceremony until they can afford a huge bash or a destination wedding that causes stress and fatigue. Focusing on the relationship instead of the big day itself has its perks. It allows couples to get a good emotional and financial start. Plus, it gives them more time together instead of creating debt and overwhelming tasks with the potential for conflict.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/What-Girls-Need-to-Know-About-Successful-Marriage-alexis-chloe-feG8J8jKfZs-unsplash-1.jpg8101260Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-09-12 00:00:002022-05-26 11:39:11What Girls Need to Know About Successful Marriage
Sometimes those left behind feel like a piece of them is missing.
In 2001, Regina R. Robertson hated her day job, so she was very thankful (and relieved) when she was ultimately fired. She also felt free to pursue a new path, as a writer. Having begun her career in the music industry, she contacted some of her former colleagues for help. She started out by writing artist bios and press releases. Within a year, she was meeting with magazine editors, including one who told her to “write what you know.”
Robertson’s first national assignment led her to interview three friends, whose names she changed, and write a piece about their experiences of life growing up without a father. After “Where’s Daddy?” ran in the October 2002 issue of Honey magazine, she received calls from other friends who asked why she hadn’t thought to include them in the article. At that point, Robertson had the first thought of writing a book on the topic.
Over the last 15 years, and while enduring rejection from agents and publishers, she spoke with many women who had stories to share.
Robertson decided to focus her book on three areas of father absence: divorce, death and distance.
“Throughout the years, I’ve interviewed a lot of people, but writing these kinds of personal stories was quite different from writing celebrity profiles or entertainment features,” says Robertson, who has served as West Coast editor of Essence magazine since 2006. “When I spoke with friends about the project, some suggested that I try reaching out to women like fitness expert, Gabrielle Reece, and MSNBC host, Joy-Ann Reid, both of whom had grown up without their fathers. I wasn’t opposed to the idea, but I thought I’d have to cut through layers and layers of the red tape to reach them. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.”
Robertson not only got through to those women, but they, and others, were very excited to share their stories.
“I can’t believe it,” Robertson says. “This project has been such a labor of love and so far, the response has been phenomenal.”
“One young woman, Nisa Rashid, shares her story of growing up while her father was in prison. Television writer, Jenny Lee, writes about her father’s suicide*, when she was 20. Simone I. Smith, a jewelry designer, talks about her relationship with her late father – a loving, though troubled, man who battled addiction. Reid, who shared her story on Facebook after her father passed away, signed on to write foreword.”
For Emmy-winning actress, Regina King, witnessing her parents’ divorce was very painful, as was her father’s eventual estrangement. Years later, after enduring her own divorce, she realized that she and her ex-husband were not connecting as co-parents. Eventually, the pair agreed that being divided wasn’t healthy for their son. As a result, they began to take the necessary steps to work together and redefine their family.
Sarah Tomlinson, author of Good Girl, also contributes to the book. She gives a raw account of her lifelong quest for a relationship with her father and her own self-destructive behavior. Tomlinson titled her essay, “The Girl at the Window,” which references the place she sat and waited, for hours, on the days he promised to visit.
Robertson even shares her own story about never knowing her father.
“Usually, when I sit down to write, I agonize over every detail. When I wrote the introduction to the book, I was surprised by how quickly the words came to me: My mother raised me on her own, from day one. She’s the only parent I’ve ever had. My father was never in the picture – not for one second, minute or hour. I never met him. There were times when I wondered how a man could leave his family, his kid, and not look back, but I didn’t obsess over my father’s absence. I definitely thought about it, though.”
Robertson is happy and surprised by the way He Never Came Home has already touched people. She hopes her book will help others know they are not alone.
“I hope I’ve written and edited the book that I wished I’d had as a teen,” Robertson shares. “This collection of essays is for all of the fatherless girls and women who’ve ever thought, as I once did, that a piece of them was missing. Life has taught me that no matter the circumstances you’re born into, you are responsible for steering your ship. If I can do it, you can, too . . . and you will. It just takes time.”
*If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are a number of websites and organizations with excellent resources for you. HelpGuide is a great place to start, along with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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You can make sure your daughter knows what true beauty is.
One October, Kelly Flanagan’s friend texted him while walking down the makeup aisle to pick something up for his wife. The text said, “Expectations on this aisle are oppressive.”
“That text was unsettling to me,” says Dr. Flanagan, husband, dad and clinical psychologist. “I think it was the combination of having a 4-year-old daughter, and a wife who is very conscious of the media’s influence on young women that made my radar go up. I knew I couldn’t remain silent.
“In my practice I see far too many women, young and old, who believe their worth is wrapped up in the way they look. It is painful to observe what these kinds of messages do to a woman’s self-esteem.”
So, Flanagan traveled to the makeup aisle and the messaging blew him away. The cosmetics industry uses really good words to sell products. Words like: Affordably Gorgeous, Infallible, Flawless Finish, Go Nude, Natural Beauty and Nearly Naked. Flanagan noticed that these words create an unattainable standard for women. Eventually, they inspired a letter to his daughter, which he wrote while sitting in the makeup aisle. The letter clearly resonated with people, as it went viral shortly after he posted it on his blog, Untangled.
As I write this, I’m sitting in the makeup aisle of Target … When you have a daughter, you start to realize she’s just as strong as everyone else in the house – a force to be reckoned with, a soul on fire with the same life and gifts and passions as any man. But sitting in this store aisle, you also begin to realize most people won’t see her that way. They’ll see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy. And they’ll tell her she has to look a certain way to have any worth or influence…
“I wrote the letter because I wanted her to know that her worth is not connected to what she does or the way she looks,” Flanagan says. “That kind of thinking is a formula for shame – the experience of believing you are not worthy enough or that success depends on what you do. I wanted my daughter to clearly understand that there was nothing she could do that would make her mom or dad love her more or less.”
Research consistently shows that fathers do influence their daughters and how they view themselves.
“Father involvement in the life of a daughter will help prepare her to catch the lies that culture teaches about how to be confident and beautiful,” Flanagan says. “The unconditional, intentional love of a father teaches his daughter that true beauty is on the inside, in her heart. Knowing this from an early age will help overpower the messages she will receive out in the world.”
… Words do have power and maybe, just maybe, the words of a father can begin to compete with the words of the world. Maybe a father’s words can deliver his daughter through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakable sense of her own worthiness and beauty … I pray that three words will remain more important to you … Where are you the most beautiful? On the inside.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/A-Dads-Letter-to-His-Daughter.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-08-25 00:00:002022-08-24 08:58:11A Dad’s Letter to His Daughter