Dear Dads of Daughters:
You are the first man in your daughter’s life. The positive impact you will have on her future emotional and social development and success is powerful beyond words. Fathers are not always recognized for the astounding role they play in shaping how their daughters will ultimately feel about herself and interact with others. This letter is to all the dads of daughters; to help you know what your daughter needs from you, and to understand the depth of the impact of your influence.
You are a very strong predictor of your daughter’s self-esteem and self-worth. While there are many definitions of self-worth, it is generally defined as one’s overall sense of being a person of value and to have self-esteem. The available research suggests that a father’s emotional responsiveness to his daughter is the critical dimension of father-daughter relationships. This promotes a daughter’s positive feelings about herself.
To facilitate your daughter having a positive sense of self-worth and value of herself, it is important that you are emotionally responsive toward your daughters. This means that you should communicate openly through accurately reflecting your daughter’s emotions. If your daughter feels heard and understood by you, and feels that her thoughts, feelings and opinions are validated, you will be embodying the role of an emotionally responsive father. Your daughter feeling close to you, as well as perceived affirmations, support, and validation are all predictors of your daughters’ sense of self-worth.
Being emotionally responsive and having a warm relationship with your daughter is even more important that you may realize. Research indicates that daughters who have an emotionally responsive father is likely to help them during their adolescent years both to delay sexual activity and to make sexual interactions less frequent, decreasing risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Ultimately, fathers who are emotionally responsive promote their daughter’s self-worth, which in turn, positively predicts their daughter’s sexual refusal behaviors.
Dads, you create the foundation and paint the portrait of your daughter’s future.