Roles of Fathers in the Development of Teenage Girls

Back in the day, who would have thought that dear old dad would have such an impact on his daughters’ lives? He was expected to tell you that you look pretty, throw you up in the air a few times a week, kiss you before bedtime, and walk you down the aisle. However, research shows that the level of participation that dad has in his teenage daughter’s life can make a huge difference on how she turns out as a woman.


Dad’s role is paramount for his daughters entering puberty. A 1999 study from Vanderbilt University and published in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 77(2), Aug 1999" on the website of the American Psychological Association, followed 173 young girls from pre-kindergarten to seventh grade 2. Their findings revealed that a dad’s presence and active participation in his daughters’ care and upbringing was crucial to a later onset of puberty. Those girls whose fathers were absent or distant experienced an earlier puberty. The researchers hypothesized that the pheromones from a close father prevented the onset of puberty while non-related or absence of male exposure, such as from stepfathers, caused female hormones to kick in early.

Affirmation of Femininity

Within the safe and appropriate boundaries of father-daughter relationships, your little girl is taking her first steps toward womanhood. While mom can show her the ropes when it comes to dressing and make-up, dad will foster her perception of herself as a woman. Hearing dad reaffirm that she is pretty and beautiful, and having that proud gleam in his eye when he sees her off to her first dance will foster your girl’s feminine foundation.

Self-Esteem and Values

Dad’s input into his daughter’s life also instills moral values. Dad is her example of what manhood is about. She can comfortably learn to relate and interact with the opposite sex, using dad as a reliable template. She develops her moral compass from dad, as well as confidence and self-esteem via positive – and sometimes argumentative – interactions.


As your daughter grows into a teenager, it becomes more important to her to gain approval from dear old dad about her achievements. Her looks may come from mom, but her sense of competitiveness is definitely from dad. The need to excel in school or in sports or any specific talent is fueled by her need to gain recognition from her father, and to strengthen the special link they share.