Fathers play a huge role in the lives of their daughters. The father-daughter relationship is the place where little girls begin to learn about love, respect, and intimacy. Daughters develop this awareness of the intimate space between two people while talking, hugging, and playing with their parents. In traditional families, daughters typically learn about male-female relationships from interacting with their dad. In non-traditional families children learn about male-female relationships by interacting with the parent who most closely holds the male space. Gender is not as important as the way the parent expresses gender-mediated behaviors and roles.
Naturally, the intimacy between parent and child is completely innocent. In healthy families, daughters learn to feel safe and loved while close to their fathers or other parent figure. As little girls grow up, they hold on to the memory of what it was like to interact with their father. This deep memory becomes strong motivation for females to choose romantic partners during adulthood who are like their parent. When the parent was respectful, calm, loving, and committed, then daughters will tend to grow up and look for those same qualities in a partner.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When the father-daughter or parent-daughter relationship is unhealthy and abusive, daughters are likely to grow up looking for a similarly unhealthy and abusive adult relationship with a romantic interest. Their brain identifies the abusive and unhealthy behavior as being familiar, stimulating deep feelings of love and connection. Unfortunately, seeking to replicate a nonproductive parent-child relationship in adulthood is a strategy that almost certainly leads to suffering and sadness.
Parents can take advantage of this powerful programming process that impacts young girls during the first few years of life. Promoting positive and respectful interactions with their daughters allows parents to help ensure that their child will one day choose an appropriate and supportive life partner.
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This article was submitted by Parenting Expert Darleen Claire Wodzenski
Darleen Claire specializes in Attachment Focused Parenting & Intervention; Effective Parenting Strategies; Academic Support for Students with Exceptionalities (Gifted & Talented and Special Needs); and Making Families Work (including traditional, single parent, nontraditional, and homeschool families).