The Importance of a Father in a Girl's Life

Not every girl has a father present in her life, and yet, a father figure of some kind can do so much to help a girl as she grows. If you are a single mother, you'll want to think these things over as your daughter grows. And if you are a father, it does you good to assess why you are needed and why you are there.

The Traditional Father

You're married to your child's mother, and you've been so for the child's entire life. You are the traditional father. Your role is easier than that of some other fathers, but that does not mean it's simple. Traditional fathers, like mothers, may have cookie-cutter images of how they expect life to be with their daughter.

Working toward the relationship you two unique humans were meant to have will not only fulfill you, but it will help your daughter learn how to work toward a healthy relationship with all men, a necessary skill for any woman, be she single, married, gay, or straight. Your daughter will have to deal with males throughout her life. You are her guide to how to do that and her testing ground for learning just how males react and to what.

Do fathers who had sisters do better with daughters?

There is an edge to having witnessed females firsthand, but that does not mean you are at a disadvantage if you did not have sisters. Sometimes a blank slate is best when developing a relationship.

Like any parent, you have your own dreams: Your daughter will play boy's football. Or she'll be an academic star and go to Harvard. Like her mother, you'll need to always assess who she is as compared with what you dream for her to be, and allow her to flourish into her own dreams. Your key is to introduce activities or life choices you may feel she should consider, then embrace those she loves and let go of those she does not. In the end, her happiness should eclipse any disappointment you may have.

The Nearly Traditional Father: The Step-Dad

Once you were an anomaly; now you are easy to find in every crowd. Stepfathers now have more to pattern their behavior on, and more support in the world at large. Depending on when you came into your stepdaughter's life, you'll need to be respectful of her needs and at the same time, working toward building a trustful relationship with her.

If there is a “real dad” involved, it is important you always respect that he is her “real father.” Any disagreement you may have with him should be handled only with him, and not through your stepdaughter. If possible, work with your wife, the father, and any partner he may have as a team — agree on all your roles and agree that however your daughter needs each of you, you'll each be adaptable for her and respectful of one another.

It can be a tall order, but parents who can achieve this find that the end result — a young woman, who knows how to successfully navigate even potentially stressful relationships — is worth the worry.

Essential

It is important not to take any periods of discomfort or embarrassment the girl in your life may have personally. Rather, work with her to find a way to be comfortable and proud of your role. Give it time.

The Non-Traditional Dad

Perhaps you are a gay partner with a daughter, or a good friend helping be the father figure in a girl's life. How do non-traditional “Dads” play the right role? First by knowing, and making it known, that you are serving in this role because you love this child and her parent, and you want her to have all the support she needs in life. A positive male influence in a girl's life cannot be a mistake. As long as you work to carve your place in her life in a way that she both is comfortable with and benefits from, you'll be an asset to her in these years.

It might be a good idea to find like situations for you and the girl in your life to role model. A group of friends or even just one other family that is living your same lifestyle can be a great help. And no matter what, always point out to your girl that you love her and want the best for her in life. That's why you are here.

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