Both of my studies show that patterns of parenting after divorce that lessen conflict, encourage open communication, and promote shared parenting are beneficial for daughters into emerging adulthood. In my recent Huffington Post article, "The Forever Dad: Scattering the Myth of the Self-Centered Dad," I write, "Fostering alienation between a child and his or her dad is one of the cruelest and most selfish acts that a parent can do to his or her own child."
According to psychologist Kevin Leman, fathers are the key to their daughter’s future. A child development expert, he notes, "That evidence shows that a father’s relationship with his daughter is one of the key determinants in a woman’s ability to enjoy a successful life and marriage."
How can your daughter overcome the loss she experienced in childhood and move forward with higher self-esteem and an optimistic view of love and marriage?
- Don’t bad mouth your ex as this promotes loyalty conflicts and may make it more difficult for her to heal from the losses associated with divorce.
- Find ways to help her to build self-esteem such as encouraging her to develop interests and recognizing her efforts and strengths. Spend time doing things she enjoys with her.
- Don’t let cynicism, sadness, or anger get in the way of your daughter’s future. If you have negative views of relationships, don’t pass them on to her.
- Encourage her to spend close to equal time with both parents. Be flexible about "parenting time," especially as she reaches adolescence and may need more time for friends, school, jobs, and extracurricular activities.