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.

Many women underestimate the importance their father has in their lives. For the most part, a good relationship with an intimate partner is strongly tied to a woman’s relationship with her dad. A father’s presence (or lack of presence) in his daughter’s life will affect how she will relate to all men who come after him and can impact her view of herself and psychological well-being.

My research for Love We Can Be Sure Of spanned over three years and was comprised of 234 interviews of young women who reflected upon their parents’ divorce. The most common themes that emerged from these interviews were trust issues and a wound in the father-daughter relationship. My previous study published in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, concluded that lack of access to both parents and an inability to deal with conflict in a constructive manner, were associated with low self-esteem in young women raised in divorced homes.

A recent large scale study cited in a Huffington Post article, "Teen Depression in Girls Linked to Absent Fathers in Early Childhood" sheds new light on the importance of the father-daughter bond. Findings from the Children of the 90’s Study at the University of Bristol, showed that girls whose fathers were absent during the first five years of life were more likely to develop depressive symptoms in adolescence than girls whose fathers left when they were aged five to ten years. They also demonstrated more depressive symptoms when compared to adolescent boys whose fathers left in both age groups.

Why is the father-daughter relationship so vulnerable to disruption after a parents’ divorce? In a divorced family, there are many ways a father-daughter bond may suffer. Based on her research, Dr. Linda Nielsen found that only 10 to 15 percent of fathers get to enjoy the benefits of shared parenting after divorce. Neilson posits that while most daughters are well adjusted several years after their parents’ divorce, many have damaged relationships with their fathers. Unfortunately, if the wound is severe, a girl can grow into adulthood with low-self-esteem and trust issues. Keep Reading...

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