We recently came across these facts in a blog post about fathers and daughters:
In an analysis of nearly 100 studies on parent-child relationships, love from a father was as important as mother love in predicting the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults:
- Withdrawal of love by either the father or the mother was equally influential in predicting a child’s emotional instability, lack of self-esteem, depression, social withdrawal, and level of aggression.
- In some studies, father love was actually a better predictor than mother love for certain outcomes, including delinquency and conduct problems, substance abuse, and overall mental health and well-being.
- Girls without fathers are almost 40% more likely to abuse drugs.
- A Partnership for a Drug-Free America study reveals 63% of fathers said they frequently talked with their children about how drugs can mess up their lives, compared to 81% of mothers.
- Nearly half of all dads (47%) are looking to spend more time with their teens, compared to 38% of mothers who say they need more time.
- Even when fathers do not live at home, children whose fathers are actively involved in their lives tend to have fewer behavioral problems.
It got us thinking about the importance of a strong, loving father in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. For those of us for whom our father was absent, we can try to make up for losses in some imaginative ways.
You’ve heard about your “inner child” right? What if you created the perfect “inner father”?
“Draw” your perfect father. Instead of longing for something you don’t have, envision what you’d like to have in your father. How would he be involved in his daughter’s life? Would he have heart-to-heart talks with you by the fireside or take you to the baseball game? Would he be funny and easygoing or stern and instructive?
Once you get that perfect picture in your head, internalize him. Your inner father could offer his opinion on this guy you started dating or a car you want to purchase. You could imagine him stepping up to the plate when you needed him in times past. He could offer that big bear hug just when you need it. Let your inner father show up for you now!
Moms, it’s never too late to have a talk with your daughter about the ways in which Dad could have showed up, if he were around. Ask her when she needed him and when missed him most. It’s healing for all parties.
For the thankfully rare instance when a fathers knows ahead of time he will not be around in his daughters’ future, there are creative solutions. At the bottom of this blog there is a video link to one stunning example of a dad, Bruce Feiler, planning ahead for the fathering of his daughters after he dies early from cancer.
No, we can’t design our parents, but we can design our imagination, which is a very powerful tool.
For the real dads and moms out there, we have a line of free birthday e-cards for daughters, bound to make her feel extra special.
[Bruce Feiler’s talk on how he planned fathering for his daughters after he is gone: http://www.ted.com/talks/bruce_feiler_the_council_of_dads.html]