Fathers play an enormously important part in a woman’s life, no matter her age, according to Terry Gaspard, a licensed social worker writing for the Huffington Post in a May 2013 article titled “The Father-Daughter Bond: A Dress Rehearsal for Life.” You, Dad, help shape her self-image, how she sees men and relates to them. Removing yourself from her life or neglecting her can hurt her as much as your supportive and loving presence can help her.
You can help your daughter see herself as capable, beautiful and smart, according to Dr. Jane R. Rosen-Grandon in her Dr. Jane website article “Father-Daughter Relationships.” Nurture this aspect of your daughter by playing catch or shooting hoops with her, praising her mind, telling her she can do anything and saying how awesome she looks, according to Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, psychoanalyst and marriage and family counselor in “Daughters Need Fathers Too” for PsychCentral.com. She sees herself through your eyes, so if you affirm her in a positive manner, then she develops a positive self-image.
Respect her body and let her know it’s okay to be sexual and to become a woman, affirms psychoanalyst Joyce McFadden in “3 Things Little Girls Need from Their Fathers” for the Huffington Post.
Man-Woman Relationship Pattern
As a dad, you show your daughter how a man should treat her, according to Hartwell-Walker, so hold the door open for her, pull out her chair and teach her how she should respond when you compliment her. If you treat her well, she won’t feel like she should put up with being mistreated or abused. When you respect her boundaries and her need for modesty, you teach her it’s okay to say "no” and require that any man she is with treat her with care and dignity.
Future Husband Model
If your relationship with your daughter is healthy, appropriate and loving, she will seek out a man like you when she begins dating, writes Hartwell-Walker. She will want a man who takes care of her financially, makes a good father, and works hard to be her friend and her lover. She will judge each young man by the standard you set, and she will refuse to settle for less than that. You won’t have to worry if he treats her right, because she won’t stay if he doesn’t.
Repairing Father-Daughter Relationships
It's never too late to fix your relationship, according to Dr. Ken Canfield in a First Things First article titled “Father-Daughter Relationships.” Women who have a distant or absent father will look for ways to compensate for that, or rewrite history to give them a strong male father figure. If your relationship needs healing, contact your daughter and let her know how important she is to you, affirm her positive qualities, ask how you can help her, apologize for your shortcomings if you can and love her unconditionally, suggests Canfield.
Dr. Meg Meeker agrees that it’s never too late to correct your relationship and provides a note of encouragement in “Father-Daughter Relationships” on Oprah.com. You don’t have to get it all right -- “just the big stuff.”