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Allanna , left, and Sari
Allanna , left, and Sari

The father/daughter relationship plays an integral role a young girl's life. It is this relationship that will give her the self-confidence to deal with life's challenging issues. Without an engaged relationship with their fathers, many girls can float through life looking for someone or something to fill that void. Therefore two basic questions for fathers are: When was the last time you spent quality one-on- one time with your daughter (s)? Do you have regularly schedule daddy-daughter dates and are you making the most of your time with your children?

If your answers are less than 100 percent then you may want to strongly consider reversing that trend because the consequences could be far reaching and much less desirable in the short and long terms. Research shows that young girls who grow up without a relationship with their fathers are at a greater risk of engaging in teenage sex, experience problems in school, have bouts of depression and anxiety, abuse drugs and alcohol and exhibit other decadent behaviours and lifestyles.

The father/daughter bond is even more important when the father and daughter are not living in the same household. Small traditions such as weekly phone calls or conversations, writing notes to each other or a father/daughter date can go a long way in strengthening that special bond. According to Dr. Meg Meeker, author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, "Fathers dramatically underestimate the importance of themselves in their daughters' lives. They withdraw much too quickly, doubt their significance and influence, and grossly misunderstand how very much their daughters need and want to have a good relationship with them".

Director of the Marriage Project at Rutgers University and Professor of Sociology, Dr. David Popenoe, writes in his book, Life without Father; 'Fathers are far more than just second adults in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring. Fathers have a direct impact on the well-being of their children. Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings and as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school or in the neighborhood'.

The uniqueness of the father-daughter relationship can deeply enrich a man's life as well. Through daughters, men can start to see and experience the world differently. Now that my girls are in the pre-teens, I have begun reflecting on how much my life has changed and the joy they have brought to me and my wife. I think about the powerful messages I am sending verbally and my actions both at home and outside every day. I try to help my daughters understand that it is not about looks alone, it is also about what they are capable of accomplishing in life both professionally, personally, the content of their characters and the relationships they foster.

Research has shown that girls whose fathers are involved in their lives are more likely to be emotionally and physically healthier and better-rounded. The greatest gifts a father can give his daughter are, talking with her, listening and trusting her. But I would be remised if I did not mention that moms, wives and girlfriends give just as much and more than dads. But it is imperative that dads find a way to balance work, fun with the boys and being there for the family. Rev. Martin Luther-King, Jr. once said, "The institution of the family is decisive in determining not only if a person has the capacity to love another individual but in the larger sense whether he/she is capable of loving. The whole of society rests on this foundation for stability, understanding and social peace".


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