Much has been written about the importance of fathers to young boys. A lack of a positive male role model is said to leave young men more prone to trouble. Less has been written about the importance of fathers to their daughters.
Dr. Linda Nielsen has studied the role fathers play in their daughter’s lives as part of her work at Wake Forest University. She found women whose dads played a substantial role in their lives were more emotionally resilient, achieved higher grades and earned more.
The different ways that fathers interact with their daughters compared to mothers has a profound effect on their daughters’ development. Dr. Nielsen summed the positive influences up in three ways: Money, men and mental health.
- Money: Girls who had a supportive father earned better grades, so they could get better jobs. They were better at weighing risks, so they were also more likely to become successful in business and avoid pitfalls like drugs or needy partners.
- Men: When a father makes his daughter feel secure and loved as a child, she’s less likely to have unfulfilled needs for affection from men. That may make her choosier about her partners, rather than willing to settle.
- Mental health: Riding motorbikes with their father and falling off, being thrown in the air and occasionally getting dropped can teach girls about life’s ups and downs, the thrills and the spills. Girls who had experienced this were better able to cope when something in their life did not go according to plans.
A parenting plan that allows both parents to continue to play a role in their children’s lives is what you should aim for when divorcing. It is also what a court will push to see unless there are extenuating circumstances.