What happens when daughters do not receive enough love and guidance from their fathers?
Unsurprisingly, they go out into the world ill-equipped to protect themselves. They become adults who seek the validation of other men who, in many cases, exploit them on a financial, physical, or emotional level.
They waste their energy chasing feelings they never experienced as children in a lengthy pursuit of something that resembles a father’s love. And one cannot help but wonder whether these fathers understand what they have done to their daughters.
Society as a whole suffers when fathers fail to properly care for their children. And no, their work doesn’t end at conception… Mothers have their own role to play and they simply cannot fill the void of a missing father who chose to leave his family behind. Just like any other job, a parent’s main responsibility is to show up and do the work. And there are vital differences when it comes to the functions of mothers and fathers.
There is solid evidence showing that the mother-daughter bond is basically the strongest of all child-parent bonds.
Research has shown that daughters, in a way, become their mothers. Scientists found great similarities in brain chemistry between daughters and mothers which are bigger than in any other kind of family member pairing. The crucial importance of this particular partnership is simply undeniable.
In comparison, the father-daughter relationship serves a quite different but extremely important purpose. According to therapist Gary Brown,
“It would be difficult to overstate the powerful influence that fathers have in the shaping of their daughters’ views about their own self-image, values, sexuality, relationships, and the right to determine the course of their own lives.”
And the data supports his stance.
Research has found that fathers who play an active role in their daughters’ lives immensely contribute to their sense of self-esteem which, in turn, lowers their rates of anxiety and depression. Also, fatherly presence can increase the likelihood of children to not end up in poverty. In addition, studies have found that affectionate dads positively affect their children’s social and cognitive development, giving them a prolonged state of security and protection on an emotional and physical level.
The father-daughter relationship has a unique pureness to it that just cannot be replicated in any other parent-to-child pairing.
This is why their bond is also the most fragile. Girls need to know what unconditional love feels like, especially in a society where they are constantly made to believe that love always comes at a cost, that it is supposed to be painful, and that to love someone is to be an emotional slave. They need to feel a kind of love that is limitless. A love that you don’t have to work for. A love that naturally exists.
Daughters who don’t know the meaning of fatherly love become strong not by their own choosing, but by sheer necessity. They push through the struggle of learning the tough lessons of life their father did not prepare them for. Meanwhile, they are trying to prove that his absence did them no harm and they’ve turned out “just fine”.
It’s undeniable that society puts pressure on us to find ways to heal from what our parents put us through.
But that doesn’t mean that men should automatically assume that their daughters can make it through life with or without their help. Because even if their daughters find a way to heal from the damage, there should be no option to opt-out of fatherhood. Fathers should remind themselves constantly that if they are not around, they could potentially be pushing their children into a life filled with misery and hardships.
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