Fathers’ Day reminds us how crucial dads are to their children’s success in life. We know boys without a father influence have huge obstacles to overcome. But there’s also research showing the important ways in which fathers affect the lives of their young adult daughters.
First — daughters with dads who encourage them to achieve — do. Linda Nielsen, Professor of Adolescent and Educational Psychology at Wake Forest University, writes, “daughters whose fathers have been actively engaged throughout childhood in promoting their academic or athletic achievements and encouraging their self-reliance and assertiveness are more likely to graduate from college and to enter the higher paying, more demanding jobs traditionally held by males.” And much more than in earlier generations, girls actually follow in their fathers’ career footsteps. According to Professor Nielson, “women who were born in the 1970s are three times more likely than those born at the beginning of the twentieth century to work in the same field as their fathers.” Researchers attribute this finding to that fact that the current generation of young adult women received more mentoring from their fathers.
In a daughter’s romantic life, a father is extremely influential. Professor Neilson reports, “The well-fathered daughter is also the most likely to have relationships with men that are emotionally intimate and fulfilling” and is less likely to be “talked into” having sex. The odds are, she’ll have a more satisfying and longer-lasting marriage. Fathers have more impact on their daughters’ relationships with men than their mothers do.
In his book, BRINGING UP GIRLS, Dr. James Dobson addresses the crucial space a father occupies in his daughter’s life and heart, saying that if a father rejects, ignores, abuses, or in some way abandons his daughter, her yearning for that father role to be filled in her life becomes more intense. He writes, “mothers cannot fill this particular empty space.”
That father-daughter relationship is worth all the time and energy you can give it.