• Susan Pattis

What Daughters Need From Their Fathers

Last week’s blog was about a good father-son relationship. Many friends suggested I write about why a father plays a critical role in his daughter’s wellbeing, mental development, psychological maturity, and social skills from the moment of her birth. A good father-daughter relationship is the most precious gift from a loving and present father to his daughter. A toxic and distant relationship is poison from an irresponsible, self-centered, and bad-tempered father to his daughter.


Many women talk with me about their unfaithful fathers with tears and anger. Several of my women friends with a bad father-daughter relationships chose not to trust men anymore. They prefer a "DATE FOR FUN ONLY" relationship with men due to their cheating fathers’ betrayal behavior. Almost half of those already married women either divorced or lowered their expectations of marriage and even lost confidence. Daughters typically label their cheating fathers as selfish men putting SEX over family and children. "I will never forgive my father for running away from me and my mother when I was only 11 years old; I haven't talked to my father for over 20 years," a highly successful businesswoman told me a few years ago.


In reality, most fathers have a good relationship with their daughters. Some fathers are overprotective because they know how the young boys at their daughters' school think and act. Most daughters would not completely understand their fathers’ worries and concerns about girl fantasy, early age romance, daydreaming, and dating. Being a father is an art and science; most men were not born knowing how to be a good father. Many successful business leaders usually brag about their generous presents to their daughters but never ask what the daughters need. "I bought a Lamborghini racing car for my daughter’s 18th birthday,” a wealthy friend in a proud tone told me several months ago. "My daughter will never walk again after her severe car accident," said the same rich friend, in a sobbing voice, when he called me two weeks ago.

A healthy father-daughter relationship is not based on materials but on meaningful support, valuable guidance, and joyful time. Being present might be the most critical role a father plays in a daughter's growth and development. It is usual for daughters to choose mates who have similar traits to their fathers. Respectful, supportive, responsible, accountable, honest, romantic, and keeping promises are the most valuable characteristics influencing the daughters' values. A loving father is the one who offers unconditional love and support to their daughters without any excuse. A father's constant praise and respect would build a daughter's long-lasting self-esteem and confidence. Comparing to the fancy presents, being there, listening, and encouraging are more precious to daughters. Of course, a father's generous gifts during the holidays or special occasions will bring a smile to his daughter's face.


Daughters growing up with their father’s present do better academically, socially, and mentally. Fathers can offer more tools to support their school projects, encourage daughters to take more calculated risks, let them try new sports activities, and take them on different adventures.


Although fathers want to be the protectors, fixers, warriors, and rescuers of their daughters, most daughters would grow up braver and more adventurous by spending more time with their father because they learn by watching their actions behavior. "My father is my buddy and best friend," a celebrity from Hong Kong brags about her father-daughter relationship all the time.


Women with a happy relationship with their fathers are more comfortable and peaceful and are without depression and anxiety. Women consider their fathers as role models in judging other men who come into their lives. A father's behavior influences his daughter's self-image, faith in society, trust in herself, and opinions of men. Daughters look up to their fathers to live a life of honesty, integrity, and honor without cheating, hypocrisy, or selfishness. A good father will spend time cultivating a trusting relationship with his daughter by encouraging an open and accessible dialogue all the time. No matter what, the fathers should never withdraw during the daughters' formative years.