As her father, you are proud of your daughter's every accomplishment as she is growing up. Even so, dads often face a communication problem with daughters more than with sons, or more than moms do with daughters.
As her father, your daughter will likely be "daddy's little girl" long into her early adulthood. You are proud of every accomplishment and milestone she reaches as she is growing up.
Even so, dads often face a common communication problem with their daughters more than they do with their sons, or than moms do with their daughters.
The daughter riddle
"Girls tend to be a riddle to fathers," says Joe Kelly, a father, author, and speaker on fathering. "Like any mystery, the relationship with our daughter can be frightening, exciting, entertaining, baffling, and enlightening, or leave us completely in the dark; sometimes all at once. If we want to unravel this mystery, we have to pay attention and listen, even in the most ordinary moments."
Kelly says this is because a girl's voice may be the most valuable and most threatened resource she has.
"Her voice is the conduit for her heart, brains and spirit," Kelly adds. "When she speaks boldly and clearly—literally and metaphorically—then she is much safer and surer. Dads must help nurture these qualities."
Dr. Linda Nielsen, author of Between Fathers and Daughters: Enriching & Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship, says the good news is that most married fathers are spending more time with their children than those in previous generations.
"But the bad news is that fathers still tend to spend more time with their sons," says Nielsen. "Dads also tend to talk more, share more, and give more advice to their sons. Only 30 percent of the fathers in a recent survey believed that their active involvement in their daughter's life was 'vital' to her health and well being."
The survey revealed some good news: the majority of fathers and daughters say they love one another and get along well most of the time. Nielsen says that even during the teenage years, fathers and daughters usually argue less than mothers and daughters, and have a less competitive, more affectionate relationship than fathers and sons.
"Unfortunately though, throughout their lifetimes, daughters and fathers generally do not communicate as comfortably, spend as much time with each other, feel as close to each other emotionally, get to know one another as well, or talk about as many personal things as mothers and daughters," says Nielsen.
"While bonds between mothers and children usually grow stronger over time, those between fathers and children usually do not. In short, most fathers and daughters are not getting as much as they could from their relationship."
Daughters learn from dads
Dads need to keep working on their parenting styles for their daughters, however, because the values of the dad-daughter bond are irreplaceable.
"When daughters learn to communicate with their fathers, and trust that their opinion will count, they can develop self-assuredness, which will allow them to be assertive and stand up for themselves," says Jane Rosen-Grandon, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist.
"My mother always told me, 'Learn how to get along with your father and brother, and you'll know how to get along with your husband.' I never fully understood her message until years later when I got married and set up housekeeping with my husband. It was then that I realized I had learned about compromise, commitment, and consideration."
Rosen-Grandon adds that some of the most meaningful moments in a daughter's life are spent with her father.
These are essentials that a daughter needs to learn from her father:
Christina DiMartino has been a freelance and assignment writer since 1985. She is a researcher, interviewer, writer, editor, and manuscript collaborator with a repertoire of clients from around the world.