“So fathers, be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do”
Lyrics By John Mayer
Becoming a father and being a father are two different things don’t’ you think? It’s easy to become a father but as I say being one is that bit harder.
We speak a lot about the importance of male role models in a boy’s life but we rarely hear about the importance of fathers in a daughter’s life. As a father of two girls I have over the last few years become that bit more aware of how my behaviour will have lasting implications on their future happiness.
It is firstly important to understand the psychology of a father-daughter/son relationship starting with the fact that children really do learn what they live. Living with others will support their notion of what is normal. Within a family this obviously has importance around the types of relationships they identify with and what is then considered normal.
It is known that from early on girls and boys draw conclusions about what men are like from the men in their life. Where there is a father or male carer then it is obvious that this man becomes a form of sounding block:
- What it is to be a man,
- What to expect from a man
- What to expect men’s attitudes towards women to be.
How a father lives with or interacts with her mother or female carer provides both girls and boys with notions of what relationships will look like when they are older. Think about it, they are looking at what love looks like through a child’s lens not an adult one. Things are not as clear or as simple when children look and learn. We often say that the time to stop abuse and violence is not when a person abuses or is being abused it is during a child’s early years. Some even go as far to say it’s when the child is still in the mother’s womb.
These early learnings are important. Some would go as far to say that a young boy or girl will create a set of notions of what it means to be a man or woman well before they even reach their teens. This does not just come from other women but from men also.
In relation to girls they learn what it is to be successful as a female and what it is like to be with a man. When any form of learning is positive then the outcomes will be positive to. In this case the girl will be confident of her gender and how relationships are formed and maintained. It is likely that the girl will go on to form meaningful and lasting relationships in the future.
So what should this tell us dads? Surely it tells us that we count. In a time when there is a perception (amongst men I add) that the role of men is being eroded as a father you have a very important role, a role that is important if we are to reduce inequality within our society.
If a picture paints a thousand words then their picture of you will last a lifetime.
As a father you are the first man in your son or daughter’s life. Never underestimate your role.