The Father-Daughter Bond: A Dress Rehearsal For Life

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The Father-Daughter Bond: A Dress Rehearsal For Life
A good relationship with an intimate partner is strongly tied to a woman's connection with her dad.

What a girl needs is a loving, predictable father figure—whether married to her mother, single, or divorced. Joshua Coleman, Ph.D., a recognized expert on parenting, explains that one of the predictors of a father’s relationship with his children after divorce is the mother’s facilitation or obstruction of the relationship.

In his book When Parents Hurt, Dr. Coleman writes, "Mothers who feel wronged in the marriage or divorce, who believe that mothers are more important than fathers, or who have psychological problems may directly or indirectly interfere with the father’s desire to have an ongoing relationship with his children."

Megan, a striking young woman who I interviewed is pursuing her dream job in a large east coast city and she has maintained a close bond with her father throughout her childhood. Her story provides an example of a daughter who grew up with a competent father. After her parents divorced when she was six years old, she spent substantial time with both parents. They had a flexible view of "parenting time," a term used by attorney Lorraine Breitman to describe the time a child spends with her parents after divorce. Megan reflects:

"Until I was sixteen, and I got my own car, I spent almost every weekend with my dad and some weeknights. Even after he moved to a nearby state, he would arrive early to my dance shows, bring me flowers, and stay after to take me out to dinner."

As Megan recalls her experience growing up in a divided family, she remembers her parents being civil and cooperative. She has fond memories of vacations and holidays with both of her parents (separately); spending close to equal time with each of them. According to Megan and many other women that I met with, her parent’s non-adversarial approach to co-parenting set the stage for a close relationship with both of her parents.

In his recent book Always Dad, Paul Mandelstein, advises divorced dads to find ways to play a crucial role in their daughter’s life. He suggests that divorced parents call a truce with their ex-spouse— to put an end to active fighting and to collaborate. He suggests that the father-daughter connection, even several years after a family dissolves, is heavily influenced by consistency in contact and the quality of the relationship. Keep Reading...

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Terry Gaspard

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Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW is a licensed therapist, author, and college instructor. Her book "Daughters of Divorce" which she wrote with her daughter Tracy will be published by Sourcebooks in the fall of 2015. Terry and Tracy offer a healing community about divorce related issues at movingpastdivorce.com.  Terry is also a regular contributor to Huffington Post Divorce and DivorcedMoms.com. She is a sought after speaker on divorce and relationship issues. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Location: Portsmouth, RI
Credentials: LICSW
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