TW Viewpoint | Daughters Need Fathers

August 9, 2017 | Kinnear Penman

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Family is important. Oftentimes people focus on the role of fathers in the lives of their sons. What benefits will an active, attentive father provide in the life of his daughter?

Several years ago, on a cold, rainy night I was solicited by a prostitute. She was sheltering in a shop doorway and was clutching a fur jacket around her. I would guess she was in her late teens. I was taken aback but declined her offer and hurried on. As I walked away I was struck by a profound sadness as I wondered what may have occurred in her past to lead her to this. I realized that it was most probable that this young woman had no loving, caring father in her life.

I am speaking directly to the fathers and to you young men who may one day become fathers of daughters. I am not demeaning the influence of mothers nor overlooking the needs of sons. But consider the deep and weighty effect that fathers have on the lives of their daughters; for good or bad.

The first and most important thing a father can do for his daughter is to simply show up. That means spending time with your daughter; paying active attention to her, talking with her, listening to her, playing with her, discussing things and showing her non-threatening attention.

She needs to see you being a loving husband to her mother. When she later starts to assess men as potential husbands for herself it is highly likely that she will be attracted to men who display similar characteristics to you. If you are respectful, attentive and non-threatening to her mother she will, even subconsciously, seek the same behavior from the man she marries.

If she has a father figure in her life whom she knows loves her unconditionally, your daughter will be much less likely to crave the attention of unworthy men who will care only for what she can do for them. Many girls are exploited into sexual behavior because they seek closeness or are afraid of being 'dropped' by a boyfriend. You can help your daughter to have no fear of rejection by men because she experiences acceptance and affection and worth from you

Girls with attentive fathers do better academically. They are likely to achieve higher grades in school than girls with absent fathers. Active fathers encourage their daughters to stay more years in study and seek higher education achievements.

A father who is present and attentive assists his daughter to have better social and communication skills. These skills are enhanced by a father who takes an interest in his daughter's interests and encourages her to express her viewpoint. Rather than mumbling a quick response to a daughter who seeks our attention we need to engage with her with open-ended questions for her to thoughtfully answer. Don't crush her opinions.

Girls raised in a stable family with a father present who demonstrates that he loves his wife generally have a delayed onset of puberty. This is important - a later entry to puberty does not mean that a girl is left behind to her disadvantage. Rather girls who enter puberty young have higher rates of mood disorders, substance abuse, self-harming, unwed pregnancy and even cancers of the reproductive system. Girls without caring fathers in their lives are almost three times as likely to have child before marriage and twice as likely to have a marriage end in failure.

Fathers also play an important role in developing religious behavior. In a family in which the mother regularly attends church but the father has no interest, only 3% of their children will grow to become regular churchgoers. However, in a family in which the father regularly attends but the mother does not, well then, 38% of their children go on to become regular church goers in adulthood. Yes, fathers are important.

Fathers, in your daughter's formative years you must be the most active and important male in her life. She needs you. She yearns for that which only you can provide. Women, your role is also vital. One, often overlooked way you can help your daughters is to be the faithful, loving support to a mature man, who loves you and who is willing to spend attentive, loving time with your daughters.

I'm Kinnear Penman for Tomorrow's World Viewpoint.

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