In this day and age, there has been an amazing influx of women entering fields previously dominated by men and beating them at their own games. And at the same time, there has been, in general, a trend of greater independence in women’s lives.
Even though the number of single moms has increased, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a lot in common to a married woman with a career, as both type of mothers have shown to do equally well in balancing motherhood and a good career.
And yes, women have successfully done both but this new research has revealed how the role of the father in bringing up a child, especially a daughter, is particularly crucial.
Having a father has been previously related exclusively to financial and social security. In today’s society, this is a wrong assumption as mothers are achieving new heights every day.
But this new research has shown how growing up with a father around can be instrumental to a daughter’s emotional development.
Why fathers are important
This particular study was published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
It concluded that daughters who had good relationships with their fathers were less likely to develop anxiety and depression, and were better equipped to handle the stress of the everyday life.
They end up becoming more communicative in general and have an easier time dealing with future relationships.
A healthy relationship between a father and his daughter can be beneficial in creating a healthy self-image for herself, better personal ethics, morals and a healthy sexuality. The relationship also helps in establishing a semblance of control in the child’s life later on.
The practical importance of fathers
Having an extra breadwinner always helps a family’s cause; but besides that, a study done by Rutgers revealed how females who grew up with a father around had a tendency to eat better and be healthier as compared to those who did not grow up around a father at their home.
Besides, fathers’ presences helps in developing a better sense of emotional stability in their daughter’s life and also a comparatively better sense of security, which tends to go a long way in the future.
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Fathers being involved from the beginning
The earlier the relationship starts and forms, the better the chances are of the bond between growing stronger. The same goes for father-daughter relationships.
Now, this is really a measure of just how much social perceptions have changed over the years; about a century ago, fathers weren’t even allowed in the delivery rooms when their child was being born. That is still the case in more than one of some Third World countries.
But now, the more they are involved right from the beginning, the better the chances are of the bond strengthening. Even from the newborn phase, fathers have many ways to create that bond and help with the child. Some of them are changing a diaper, feeding a bottle to their child or simply comforting it by rocking her to sleep or holding it close to their chest.
Rocking the child to sleep also leads to the child recognizing the father early on with someone who provides comfort and helps them in the future.
The way fathers are portrayed in popular media (films, books, radio and television) can bias the reception of them in their family. They are mostly portrayed either as people who don’t know anything about their daughter’s lives (“Mad Men”) or damaging and harmful individuals who do their daughters more harm than good (Stephen King “It”, Toni Morrison “Bluest Eye”).
What is important here is the realization on the part of the father that these are mere stereotypes or rare cases and are often dramatically exaggerated for entertainment purposes; these should not deter them from becoming the Jean Valjean to their daughter’s Cosette in real life.
The role of the mother
The purpose of this article is not to undermine the importance of moms in their daughters’ lives at all.
If anything, moms can help in strengthening the bond between father and daughter, as well by providing transparency and a safe buffer zone in times of misunderstandings.
Now to men who are scared that their involvement came too late, we say don’t lose hope or feel helpless. There is always time; and with a little patience, it is still possible to become a better dad, to create a relationship and make up for the time lost.
Image source: Flickr/Chris Price
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