In today’s busy world, parents find very little time to get involved in the upbringing and development of their children. “Parents bring a unique presence, a special force to parenting,” says clinical psychologist Ray Guarendia, in his book “Return to the Family.”
How true this is in parenting! Just as there is a special bond between mothers and children, the relationship between fathers and daughters is unique. Therefore, parents cannot afford to remain remote characters in their daughters’ lives. Parenting is a joint venture in which fathers are as actively involved as mothers.
There are several reasons why parental involvement becomes limited.
o Ambitious and hard-working parents put their work before the well-being of their families. They come home too tired to spend quality time with their children. Children are often asleep when they return and go to school before their parents wake up.
o Absent dads: Those with travel jobs such as airline pilots, sales representatives, businessmen, or long-distance truck drivers may be away from home frequently, sometimes for extended periods.
o Divorced parents with limited visitation rights also cannot spend enough time with their children.
o The false notions that girls should be raised exclusively by mothers or women at home, cause men to distance themselves from their daughters. They are uncomfortable showing affection, so they miss out on the little intimacies they might share with their daughters.
The word “dad” is universal in nature. It evokes qualities of responsibility, protection, love and discipline. Being a father can be a rewarding job, and a man who renounces his responsibility is not fulfilling the role God has assigned him. John Rosemond, a family counselor, wrote in one of his articles that a parent must not only be present, but must be ‘actively involved’ and ‘a vigorously interested participant’ in the child-rearing process.
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, spent long periods in prison during the struggle for India’s independence. He deeply regretted his separation from his beloved daughter Indira, but he kept in contact with her through letters, which were later compiled in a book “Glimpses of World History”. These letters express his deep love for her and the ease with which he expressed it.
“Priyadarshini, dear to my sight but even more dear to my heart …..”
“I think about the day when the three of us meet again, and thinking about it makes me happy and makes my heart happy.”
Despite being absent, it aroused in her an interest in world history, science, and politics, which contributed greatly to shaping her character.
Or who can forget dad William Jackson Smart, who raised six children singlehandedly in rural Washington, and his daughter, Mrs. Dodd, who fought for Father’s Day, as a dedication to dads like him.
To be a good parent, you need to know some essential requirements.
o Show love. No parent should feel ashamed to show affection to their daughter. A touch, a hug, a special smile and three little words “I love you” are tangible ways of communicating love. She learns to reciprocate that love. This is her first male-female relationship with her father and it will influence her behavior with her husband in the future. The first reflection of herself as a woman comes from her father. How do you see it? Do you accept it without reservation? Or does he treat her as inferior to his brother? When he shows respect, she feels valuable as an individual. When he ignores her or is overly critical, she begins to feel worthless.
o Show love and respect to your mother. A good and loving relationship between the parents is the basis of their evolution towards a happy and balanced child. It gives you a sense of security and a good opinion about the marriage.
o Shared activities: A good father will show interest in his daughter’s activities. He will make her feel good about his skills and accomplishments. You will find something to praise. A father should be his daughter’s cheerleader. Doing things together like reading, walking, playing is time well spent. You will also learn to see things through her eyes as she guides you through her wonderland. Time is a very valuable gift.
o Communication: Listening and paying attention to what a daughter says is a way of showing love. What may seem silly to an adult may be upsetting to a child. He should be encouraged to talk about his school problems, peer pressure, studies, or any other conflict situation. A good parent will help her find solutions to her problems. He will teach not to blame. You will be free to express your opinions and will be open to advice.
o Respect: a girl should be considered as a person and not as a possession. Your right to privacy and your space to grow must be respected.
o Honesty: Being honest with your child will make a parent trustworthy in your estimation. Your questions should be answered sensibly. He must be taught to distinguish between right and wrong, honesty and dishonesty. She should not be forced to do what she does not want by offering incentives, threats, or emotional blackmail.
o Discipline: “Discipline is one of the most loving and lasting gifts a father can give his child,” says Gaurendi. It must be consistent, fair, and lovingly administered. In educating a child on the path to follow, the parent must ensure that he does it himself. The task of being a parent is daunting. It is exciting to see men who take family responsibility seriously and who are caring and compassionate. The way a parent speaks, the words they use, the tone of their voice can be encouraging or discouraging. The trustworthiness and integrity she learns from her father will prepare her for the ‘school of hard knocks’ she must go through on her way to adulthood.
The relationship between father and daughter reaches a very delicate phase when she is in her teens. This period must be negotiated tactfully and effectively. You must be sure that he values you as an intelligent and independent person. Being aware of your daughter’s sexuality makes many parents uncomfortable. Suddenly you feel downgraded on your priority list. Until now, he was the center of her universe. Now his eyes start to wander and focus on other boys. You want to dress differently and behave differently. Some parents cannot handle these changes well. They can react by being overprotective or overbearing.
o Overprotective: In a society that does not value modesty or sexual purity, Dad is afraid that his precious girl will go astray. He feels it is his duty to make rules about dating and who he will date, or how he will dress, or what company he will have. This “paternal neurosis” is not welcome. The girl feels restricted. For one thing, you may feel insecure, as if unable to take care of yourself. On the other hand, you may want to escape this ‘suffocating love’ before it slows down your emotional growth.
o Dominant: daughters tend to rebel against dictatorial parents. When rigid rules are imposed that she deems unnecessary, when he restricts her activities, she may begin to fear or hate him. There is a clear inclination to rebel. A father must be sensitive to the growing needs of his daughter and make appropriate allowances. You should negotiate fairly, allowing you to gain confidence and pride in your choices. But you must also instill in him that elections have consequences.
A daughter regards her father as an indicator by which she will estimate the worth of other men. If he behaves well, is trustworthy, honest and loving, she will look for those qualities in other men. It must also be a praying father, as it reflects the unconditional love of God our father. Child psychologist Phyllis Bronstein says that while a mother teaches caring and nurturing, a father teaches physical competence, self-assertiveness, and adventurousness. Children with good parents get along well with other people and are successful. While those who are neglected by their parents show lower IQ, poor performance in school, and delinquency.
When parents are abusive, hot-tempered, irresponsible, or alcoholics, this also has an adverse impact on daughters. They look for similar traits in husbands or lovers. Regardless of the damage it causes them physically, psychologically and emotionally, this ‘father hunger’ forces them to seek out men like that, in the hope that eventually things will change. One parent said, “If I’m wrong, she will spend the rest of her life with a ‘mistake’. I don’t want that to happen.”
Too much pampering with Molly is unhealthy and can lead to ‘father fixation’. This type of improper parenting can be the cause of the Electra Complex, a psychological term for a girl’s romantic feelings towards her father and anger towards her mother. Carl Jung called it the “Oedipus Feminine Attitude”. This could even lead to an incestuous relationship between father and daughter.
An anonymous poet has this advice for parents:
“Take stock of yourself and consider your son,
Your time and your thoughts are yours;
Because how would you respond to the Lord if he asks you?
What kind of father were you? “