The Father Daughter Bond

Dr. Michelle Deering

father daughter bond smiling at each other

The father-daughter bond is often overshadowed by the mother-daughter relationship.

Why?

Because, after a mom gives birth, the child is immediately given to the mother for the initial bonding to take place. All the skin-to-skin contact, the placing of a daughter on the chest/heart of her mom, and the mutual cooing facilitate the bond. This bond becomes the basis for that baby daughter experiencing a giving kind of love. That bond also becomes the foundation for a daughter discovering who she is as a girl, young lady, and woman.

However, there is something different—yet equally as special and significant—that happens when a father gets to hold his baby girl.

When a father holds his baby girl, a blanket of doting commitment to love, provide, and protect—from all future suitors—floods a father’s heart for his little princess. There is something to be said for a little girl being seen through her daddy’s eyes.

When a father sees his daughter and their eyes lock, at a primal level she knows that she is safe. Safety is key to a little girl’s confidence.

When a father’s doting eyes embrace his daughter, a special bond is created.

I never experienced my father’s doting gaze.

My single mom birthed me after she fled her abusive husband…my biological progenitor.

The Stats

The statistics continue to show the positive effects that fathers have on their daughters.

  • According to the 2017 US Census Bureau, a father’s absence is associated with girls being 7-times more likely to get pregnant as a teenager.

 

  • The overall rate of child abuse and neglect in single-parent households is 3 children per 1,000, whereas the rate of overall maltreatment in two-parent households is 15.5 per 1,000.

 

  • Researchers found that for fathers who take interest and actively participate in their daughter’s life, their daughters are likely to feel more worthwhile and excel academically.

 

Safe Place

These statistics give credence to the protective role fathers provide for their daughter’s social and academic well-being. Fathers also provide psychological benefits.

  • According to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, young girls who have a warm, close relationship with their dads are better able to handle everyday stressors, are less prone to depression and anxiety, and are better able to talk about their feelings.

Psychologically-speaking, the bond that a daughter has with her father is different and important. A father is the first “not-like-me” person that a young daughter encounters. This father-daughter relationship complements and balances out a girl’s progression towards her own identity.

While a daughter does bond with her mom, their “likeness” can make a daughter’s progression towards separateness and independence complicated.

This complication, in turn, often contributes to “issues” happening a mother-daughter relationship. Thus, a father’s presence is a needed safe place for a daughter to explore and discover who she is.

“Dad Saints”

Though I didn’t grow up with my father, I encountered “dad saints” early in my life. The following are those three men:

  • Travel team softball coach, Jimmy Cosgrove.
  • High school English teacher, Mr. Michael Ragusa.
  • Clinical internship supervisor, the late Ken Roy.

Each of these men saw me and my uniqueness.

I can’t think of any of them without my eyes tearing up and my heart welling up with gratefulness. They each consistently went out of their way to encourage, affirm, challenge (a.k.a. “nudge”), and make time for me selflessly and without an ego.

As I think about it now, they’re actually a composite of the person I married.

I guess a young girl can end up marrying “someone like her (dad-saint)  father.”

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads and to the men who are being a “father to the fatherless.”

Know that you do make a difference.

 

 

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