Following Father's Day, many of us use this time to reflect on our own experiences as a daughter or as a father or father figure.
When you become a father to a girl, there is no doubt your world becomes a little bit bigger and a little bit brighter. Days are filled with tears and laughter, joy and fear. In the early years, your daughter needs and relies on you to fulfil her basic needs. As she grows and matures, she seemingly doesn’t need you anymore. Even though she may not admit it, it is through the teenage years that she needs you more than ever.
When it comes to raising daughters, fathers often find themselves balancing between “too much” and “too little”. They often err on the side of “too little”, however, “too much” is actually never enough.
To ensure a positive and lasting impact on their daughter’s life, fathers must do more than show up. “The Father Effect” is the umbrella term for the importance and benefits of a paternal presence. It emphasises that fathers need to be involved via quality and quantity time in all aspects of their daughter’s life from play, homework, relationships and everything in between.
The academic effect
Numerous studies show that children who grow up in a household with a father figure who understands what their daughter needs to grow show superior outcomes in intelligence tests — they tend to have higher IQ test scores by the age of 3. They also show greater happiness, success, and connectedness.
Studies also show that daughters with present fathers or father figures perform better academically. Acts such as helping with homework and encouraging their daughter to take on academic challenges and pursue their ambitions result in higher levels of sociability, improved academic grade, and fewer reported behavioural problems. Interestingly, daughters who have a thriving father-daughter relationship are more likely to have high-paying jobs when they grow up.
The adventure effect
But the importance of a father goes well beyond the world of academics. Dads bring a sense of adventure into the life of their daughter. Generally speaking, fathers encourage their daughters to try new things, take risks and build a sense of independence for their daughters. Fathers often accelerate their daughters into an adventurous journey where they are out of their comfort zone and need to problem solve and take on responsibilities. They remind their daughters that taking risks and making mistakes are crucial parts of life; all while acting as a safety net to catch them before they hit the ground.
The esteem effect
When fathers help their daughter understand that they are capable and strong, encourage their daughter to dream big and tell them that they believe in them, the effect on their daughter’s confidence is positive and long-lasting.
The bedrock of your daughter’s self-esteem starts at home and dads who provide praise, support, and unconditional love allow their daughter to embrace the world. When your daughter knows you view her in a positive light, she is more inclined to view herself that way too.
Like all relationships, the relationship between dads and their daughters will constantly evolve. There will be rough patches and it won’t always be easy, but the rewards are always worth it.
The silver lining of COVID-19 is that we are spending more time at home with our families. Your daughter isn’t going to school, where she would be met with warm hugs, beaming smiles and roars of laughter; see this as your chance to use recent experiences and time together to connect.
To celebrate all dads and their daughters, Toorak College, in partnership with the Mornington Peninsula Foundation and the Committee for Mornington Peninsula, are proud to host a free online information evening with guest speaker Madonna King.
What do our girls think about their fathers? And what are fathers struggling with when it comes to their relationship with their daughters? Madonna will explore the key issues that arise to help families navigate the sometimes very difficult moments between dads and their daughters. This online event is open to everyone and will take place on Wednesday 16 September at 7:00 pm. Registrations essential.