By Jeanne Ongiyo
Many times fathers are seen as role models to their sons and are referred to as important pillars in the development and maturity of their sons from childhood to adulthood. The importance of the role of fathers in the lives of their sons has often led us to overlook their importance in the lives of their daughters. Children learn what they live and they consider whatever they experience in their family as normal. They therefore plan their lives on the fact that a normal family setup is complete only with the presence of a father or father-figure in the family. Throughout the girls’ interaction with their fathers, their fathers become guides on what they should expect from men and the attitude of men towards the woman.
In relation to the interactions between the father and mother, the daughter acquires a template for how her future relationship with a man will be like. In the early stages of development from childhood to adulthood, girls learn by observing the roles and responsibilities of both men and women and predominantly how to be in a relationship with a man. Many scholars and authors have written books documenting the roles of fathers with regards to their daughters. These books may have been written at different times and in different parts of the world but what is certain is all these people agree that a girl needs to have a father-figure in her life for emotional as well as psychological development. Dr. Marie Hartwell, a licensed psychologist and family counsellor explains that there are 10 important principles of playing one’s role as a father.
1. Love her mother
As a father, you are expected to love the mother unconditionally giving her the same if not more affection then the time you first met. Even if the mother does not reciprocate this kind gesture, a father can live an honourable life that shows his daughter that the man is always willing to take the high road when it comes to his respect for women and his responsibilities to his children.
2. Attach yourself to your daughter
Girls with a solid sense of self-worth are often their daddy’s buddies for long periods of time when growing up. A father should therefore make the most of this by spending regular time with his daughter and constantly letting her know how much she is loved by a father’s loving hugs and words.
3. Attach with safety
Fathers always model the lines and limits between appropriate affection and inappropriate touch. Often do we hear cases of sexual harassment against women that most men say is somewhat provoked by the women themselves. The best preventive measure therefore is a father to teach his daughter about privacy, modesty and appropriate boundaries from a male perspective.
4. Celebrate her mind
Read her favourite books to her, be interested in what your daughter is learning in school and pay attention to her interests being honestly curious to learn how much she knows about her particular hobbies as well as friends. A father should acknowledge his daughters good choices and he should also offer guidance when the daughter makes an otherwise wrong choice.
5. Go to her events
A girl prides herself in celebrating memorable moments with those she loves most. Daughters especially need their fathers as witnesses to their talents, efforts and achievements. Fathers, take note of this, show a sign of appreciation and pride in your daughter.
6. Tell her she is beautiful
We live in a culture where most girls are often insecure about their looks. A father’s compliments are usually genuine statements of approval that act as a building block to the girl’s confidence levels and boost self-esteem.
7. Show her that real men can negotiate differences with women
As a father, when you and female relatives or colleagues are in the presence of your daughter, let your daughter see you work through conflict in a calm and reasonable way. Be the example of how men should interact with her. She is less likely to fall for a bully if she is aware that men and women can deal with issues peacefully and reach an amicable solution to the problem.
8. Treat all women the way you would want your daughter to be treated
Father’s need not bad-mouth women in the presence of their daughters. A father’s attitude about women, especially those close to their daughters shape the mind-set of their daughters. A father’s attitude about women is part of the attitude the daughter will develop about herself.
9. Treat her the way you want her future husband to treat her
The way a father relates to his daughter is the way the daughter becomes used to when relating to any other man. Fathers should not let their daughters feel insufficient once married and they start experiencing the kind of special treatment their fathers never accorded them while they were growing up. Daddies everywhere should treat their daughters like princesses.
10. Be the kind of man you want your daughter to marry
Fathers are the models of manhood that their daughters are likely to look for when they start dating or even when they decide to get married. Fathers beware that your daughters are likely to marry a carbon-copy of yourself so be the best man you could ever be for your daughter’s sake.
As the Mother’s Day festivities and jubilation die down, this is a call to all fathers and daughters to take time alone and bond as they too need each other in life just as a mother is important in the life of a daughter. Let’s make Father’s day an equally big deal as fathers also play an important role in the lives of children…more especially their daughters.