I have a good father. I know that I am lucky. He was away a lot when I was a child, and I honestly don’t remember him being at too many school plays, (but that might just be the memory of a child) but he was there and he loved me. There have been five moments in my life where his love for me and pride in me were most clearly visible to me, and I treasure each of those moments – knowing that he loves and is proud of me in the times in between too.

I had a friend growing up whose dad wasn’t around and wasn’t all that much interested in her, and I know how it hurt her. She came with my dad and I on a ‘father-daughter’ camp once.

I’ve read various studies which show that girls who grow up without a father present are more likely to go ‘looking for love’ and stand a higher chance of being sexually active by about 12 years old – which explains the high rate of teen pregnancy in my area where most are single parent homes.

In fact, Linda Nielsen, a psychologist and professor of adolescent psychology and women’s studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina in an interview with Vision said the following:

“Are you worried about teenage pregnancy? Are you worried about whether your daughter will get a good job someday and be able to support herself? Are you worried about your daughter picking boyfriends and husbands who are going to be emotionally or physically abusive to her? Are you worried about boys taking sexual advantage of your daughter? All of these things, research shows, are connected more strongly to her relationship with her father than to her relationship with her mother.”

She goes on to say that girls with no father-figure will be more likely to be “desperate for male approval, constantly thinking about the next boyfriend, or what do the boys think about me, or how do I get the boys’ attention”. But once they get one boyfriend, fiance, husband they’re constantly worried about him leaving. And so they become suspicious, overly dependent; they make their boyfriend or husband nuts by clinging to him. Nobody wants someone hanging on them all the time, like a child. There is some fascinating research out there about the advantages fathers give their daughters.

But what can we do in the less than ideal real world, where so many girls do grow up without fathers? Well, my friend turned out pretty darn great. In fact, I know two young ladies who have turned out really well despite absent fathers. In both cases, however, they have had fantastic male-figures to look up to. In both cases, their maternal grandfathers have played amazing parts in their lives, as have family friends and uncles.

But what about distant fathers? You know, the type of father who is there but has no real relationship with his (especially teenage) daughter. Is he doing her any good? Doubtful. Joe Kelly, the author of Dads and Daughters says:

“A girl whose father listens to and respects her will expect her life partner to listen to her and treat her well. That’s why it’s so important for us to show and tell our daughters that we believe they are capable of anything.

I think this is so true, from my own experience. Through my own stupidity I ended up in a less than perfect relationship, where I was led to believe that without him, no one would want me, or love me. He honestly had me believing that I was ‘damaged goods’ at 19 and that I had no option but to be with him. For a while. Then I realised that that is not true:  how could it be true, if my dad loved me? So I left him, and when everyone turned their backs on me for leaving ‘such a great guy’, my dad only needed to hear the very tip of the iceberg of what I had been going through and he opened his arms, his heart and my old home up to me again. And I’ve never looked back.

So why are so many fathers so afraid of spending time with their daughters, of going away with them (i.e. a weekend camping) and of really knowing them?

Firstly, they don’t understand women. They didn’t understand them growing up, they don’t really understand their wives, so what chance do they have of understanding their daughters? I think Kelly answers this so beautifully: “If we want to unravel this mystery, we have to pay attention, even in the most ordinary of moments. If we want to figure it out, we have to listen even before our daughters speak.”

Also, for fathers who don’t really know where to start, I recommend you read a book called Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul. I think it does a fantastic job of explaining the need, desire and purpose of a woman’s desire to be her daddy’s princess.

Secondly, and sadly this is the most common reason I can find: because they are not sure it’s appropriate. I mean, what will people think of a grown man spending so much time with a young/teenage girl?

Nielsen addresses this too. She says that although statistically, rates of incest are quite high, incest is classed as being between any family members, including grandfathers, uncles and so on or even live in boyfriends. The statistics of girls who were sexually abused by their biological fathers is a very small percentage.

Of course it does happen. I had a friend who was sexually abused by her father from the age of four. To say she was ‘messed up’ would be putting it mildly.

So what is a single mother to do?

I’m not a single mother, so I honestly don’t know, but someone who does, Sandi Paterson recommends two things: find a mentor and fill the gap by finding male role models in your family and friendship group with whom your daughter can have a transparent, open and accountable relationship.

Fathers are important in a girl’s life – of course there are exceptions to every rule, but it is rare that a girl is better off without her dad in her life. And if she is, then finding a replacement is essential to her healthy and confident development.

As Kelly says: “Fathering a daughter with love and respect ensures she will choose people and situations that nourish her long after she’s left our house. There’s no greater legacy for us to leave our daughters.”

What about you? Do you think your relationship with your father, or lack thereof, has had any influence on your life?


Do Girls Really Need to be Daddy’s Princess?

  1. this is very sad to me think ing there are little girls out there who have never had a loving father. boys or girls but especially girls it just breaks my heart sometimes i am a father of only one child and she is 26 years old now. i raised her myself and that was very hard because i am an over the road truck driver. i only worked every other week for manyyears so i could spend time with her and she always was my little punkin she still is my little punkin she has been in 46 of the 48 states in the truck with me and it was always so much fun oh we had our little problems but she always knows that her daddy loves her andd always will i will always love her not because she is so cute or because she is so smart or because she is so good and obedient or because i am so proud of her and i am very proud of her but because she is my child i don’t care if she shoots me with my 357magnum 59 times i will still love her untill my last dying breath because she is my child i am 65 years old and have 3 heart attacks so i kind of worry about not being here for her. i don’t get to see her as much because she and her husband live 180 miles away in minneapolis once a month i go and spend the weekend with them and take them 2 nights to motel in mpls now i have 2 precious little grand children my granddaughter is 5 and my grandson is 4 so now i concentrate on them. i try to be like a grandpa to many other little boys and girls and take them places like for ice cream and take them fishing and hunting and things like that. i have a lot of little buddies that i love and i try to show them gods love and help them with their little problems. but i think what hurts me the most is to think that there are so many little girls and women that don’t know that there are men who really do want to love them for who they are but are afraid to show it. but what is the saddest thing to me is sometimes when i see a little child i would like to walk up and put my arm around them and give them a little hug or a little kiss on the top of the head . but i don’t dare because people might think i am a pervert or something. i do give all my little buddies lots of hugs and little kisses and i know that their are people who really wonder about me but too bad the kids all know that i really care about them. but i think that little girls are the most precious and special. it took me 3 hours to type this because i have never used a computer much and i don’t know even how to send this i hope it works i guess i will probably never know if it went through maybe someone could call me and let me know 2182446240

      1. @Luschka, i don’t understand this computer stuff at all and i don’t know what to do . butt apparently i got my message through because you responded. but you are the only one

  2. I know I don’t fit your demographic what with being a male but I am hoping you don’t mind the response since I am a dad to an 8 year old girl.

    First, let me applaud this well written and intellegent post.

    Second, my opinion: I think every person is affected by their relationship with both parents. For sure when that relationship is at either extreme. Those whose father wasn’t there or had no time for them search for male influence and companionship. Those whose father never let them lift a finger and treated them like a princess will expect to be pampered and only think their parnet cares when he is performing at 200%.

    What I am shooting for with my daughter is this:
    1. Fix things only when she asks me to.
    2. listen when she needs it.
    3. Let her try (and fail) without any help but be standing right behind her ready to jump in.

    1. @Bobby Walker, Hi Bobby. Thanks for your comment. I think you fit the ‘demographic’ quite perfectly actually, being a parent and all!

      I absolutely agree with you that we are affected by our relationship to both our parents, but in this piece I was specifically focusing on this relationship because I felt it was really important to highlight it.

      I think you’re spot on with your thoughts on the different approaches to fathering. And as a girl myself, I think you’re on the right track with the aims you have with your daughter – especially the not fixing unless you’re asked to – and I’m not talking light bulbs!

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I intend to have a look at your blog too – it looks really interesting!

  3. I loved my Dad and he loved me but he really had no idea how to be a father. He tried and we are as close as we can be given the difficulties he has relating to anyone. I don’t know that the poor choices I made were due, in part, to the distance with my Dad. But I do know I found an awesome husband and my parents are still married and while I wasn’t his “princess”, I was his “lilli” and it has to be enough.

  4. Hey Luschka,

    This is a really smart and well-written piece! I’ve met so many women over the years who had that “distant” father and I can tell how much they really wish they had a close father/daughter relationship.

    I think it affects sons as well. My dad is an okay guy and all but almost impossible to make an emotional connection with. As a result, I always seem to be on the lookout for a father-figure to make that connection too. It hasn’t really worked out for me and it’s not a huge deal now as I’m a father myself now, but it has made me realize how important building a good relationship w/ my daughter is.

    Thanks for writing such a well-thought post about fathers and daughters!

  5. My bio-father never acknowledged me, and my mom’s husband (ie., my Daddy,) adopted me when I was little. He has always been my dad, and will always be, but he is a very distant person. Being close with him on an emotional level is tough. At 35, I find myself still doing things to try and get his attention and approval because I crave a close father/daughter relationship intensely.

    Thought provoking piece! Thanks for that.

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