Strengthening Father-Daughter Relationships

Research shows benefits for girls who have strong bonds with dads

Father and daughter laughing together while sitting on a porch
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A daughter's relationship with their father can play a key role in their psychological development. In fact, when fathers are present in their daughters' lives, girls grow up with a healthy sense of who they are. They are more confident and self-assured and have a clearer understanding of what they want in life. Learn more about what makes this connection so valuable and how to foster it from the time a daughter is born.

Benefits of a Strong Father-Daughter Connection

When you connect with your daughter, the positive impact can be quite significant. Research suggests that daughters who have secure and loving relationships with their fathers:

  • Are more assertive without being aggressive
  • Are more likely pursue higher education
  • Feel better about themselves
  • Feel more confident in relationships with partners in general
  • Have better grades in school

Besides these lifelong benefits, nurturing a rewarding relationship with a daughter can be a great experience in the present. Fathers and daughters who spend time together build a foundation of trust and support. They learn more about each other and their respective experiences. And ultimately, they have fun and make memories that last a lifetime.

Begin the Day Your Child Is Born

To create a positive relationship with your child, start on the day they are born. Get involved in their life from the very beginning by taking an active role in caring for your baby. If you spend quality time with them early on, the relationship can grow organically with each passing day and every exciting milestone.

To bond with your baby, change diapers, cuddle them often, bathe, and feed them. It is also important to support your partner as well. In fact, research shows that from infancy, girls develop ideas and draw conclusions about the men in their lives. You can be a positive example of the type of adult you want your daughter to trust and confide in the future, whether it is in work, school, friendships, or partnerships.

Teach Them New Things

Life is full of adventures. And for kids, something as simple as learning how to kick a soccer ball or ride a bike are momentous accomplishments. Think of all the things you enjoyed learning as a child and pass them on. Follow your child's cues if they show an interest in learning something new, even if you know little about it. Show your child learning is a lifetime journey, and it's never too late to pick up a new hobby or skill.

Trying a new activity or overcoming a challenge helps to give a child confidence to tackle anything. Even just allowing them to tag along while you learn something new will have a significant impact on their self-esteem. From learning an instrument to building a computer program, pursuing uncharted territory together is a great way to connect.

Be Their Confidante

Listening is possibly one of the most essential skills a parent can master if they want to have a good relationship with their child. Build your relationship with your daughter by being present, giving them your undivided attention, and allowing them to confide in you without fear of judgment.

Pay attention to what they say when you are together. To understand your child on a deeper level, take notice of their dreams, goals, and fears. Resist the urge to lecture or correct. Just listen and give them a safe space to share.

And most of all, keep their confidence. When your child shares something private or bares their soul, don't repeat the story. Violating their trust will damage your relationship and reduce the chances they will share with you again.

Plan Fun Activities

Every parent-child relationship should include one-on-one dates. These moments together don't have to be anything elaborate or expensive. Simply checking out the latest toys at the toy store, going out for ice cream, or attending the library's storytime are great options for lighthearted fun.

As they get older, try something more active like playing miniature golf, hiking, biking, or swimming. You also could take them to a play, a baseball game, or even a concert. Building fun memories in a positive environment can make a big difference in your relationship and encourage your child to explore new interests and hobbies.

Be Involved

The hallmark of every great parent-child relationship is an adult who is actively interested and involved in their child's life. Being involved is more than asking about their day. It means taking an interest in the things that excite and inspire your child.

For instance, if they love the stars, take them to a planetarium. Buy them a telescope. Research stars and planets together and talk about them. Share any new research that is released. The key is to find out what your child's passions are and foster them.

You can also show your support by attending their events and activities. Put them on your calendar and try not to cancel. Never underestimate the significance of being there for the band concerts, talent shows, sports games, and science fairs. You are showing your child that the things that matter to them matter to you too.

Love Them Unconditionally

Every young child needs to know they are loved even when they mess up. And they will mess up. We all do. Be careful not to ridicule, shame, or demean them when they make a poor choice. Instead, use a misstep to help them learn and grow. Transform these situations into opportunities to teach them something. Be calm, patient, and loving in the process.

Unconditional love does not mean there are no repercussions or discipline. Be clear about what your child did wrong, but do not focus or dwell on it. Instead, suggest how they can handle the situation differently in the future. Assure them that while you may be disappointed, you still love them very much.

Validate Them Often

Modern culture gives young girls the wrong messages. It is common for them to believe that they need to be a certain weight, wear the right makeup, and dress a certain way to be attractive. Social media only reinforces these shallow ideals.

You can help dismantle those harmful stereotypes by focusing less on your child's physical appearance and more on making good choices to keep their mind and body healthy and strong. Discuss nutrition, exercise, and the importance of getting enough sleep. Model the healthy choices you want your child to make.

You can also talk about the importance of character. Compliment them when they do something kind for another person. Praise them when they face their fear and do something courageous. Praise qualities like empathy, compassion, and determination. All children need to know that their parents believe in them and value the inherent qualities that make them unique.

Write Notes and Letters

Just about every child loves cards, notes, and letters. Take the time to write your daughter regular notes and letters expressing your feelings. Mention something they've done recently to make you proud. Tell them how much you enjoyed reading a book with them or watching them play their favorite sport the other day.

These personal expressions are tangible examples of your love for them and something they will probably hold on to for the rest of their life. Your notes do not have to be elaborate. Just share from your heart.

Be a Good Parent and Partner

A parent-child relationship informs how the child approaches parenthood later in life. Based on their own childhood, they make choices about what they want to do—and don't want to do—with their own family. A father who is available, involved, and supportive creates a model for a healthy parental figure.

The same is true for how a parent treats their spouse or partner. Children learn so much about love, relationships, and trust from their parents and the other significant romantic partnerships they are exposed to early on. They are more likely to seek out positive, loving connections with partners if that is what they have seen at home. Be the example of the kind of partner you want your child to find someday.

When you are kind and respectful toward your child's other parent, even if you are no longer romantically involved, you show your child this is how they deserve to be treated.

A Word From Verywell

Making time for your child and building a strong relationship will serve them well over time. By spending time with them and supporting their interests and goals, you show them they are important and worthy of love, kindness, and respect. Plus, you will develop a strong bond and create a lot of fun memories along the way.

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  1. Sağkal AS, Özdemir Y, Koruklu N. Direct and indirect effects of father-daughter relationship on adolescent girls' psychological outcomes: The role of basic psychological need satisfactionJ Adolesc. 2018;68:32–39. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2018.07.001