Children’s parents shape the way they see people and how they interact with others for the rest of their lives. When parents are affectionate and attentive, children learn that they are worthy of being seen. They also learn to give and receive love in healthy ways.
The relationship between fathers and their children is especially impactful for daughters. A girl’s father has a pivotal role in shaping her perception of herself and her future decisions. Here are five ways you can strengthen your father-daughter relationships and give your girls the best chance of success in life.
- Spend Time With Her
From a very early age, fathers should spend time with their daughters. This can look like holding your baby, changing her diapers, and rocking her to sleep. Lots of communication, healthy physical touch, and plenty of emotional engagement early on in your daughter’s life will benefit her neurological growth and create a strong foundation for your future relationship.
Studies show that the engagement children receive from their parents early in life helps them to develop healthy mental and emotional skills as they mature. In their first two years of life, children’s brains are developing quickly and giving them the neural network they’ll build on for the rest of their lives.
Although your baby won’t remember these early moments of bonding, you will. Like all important relationships, developing a bond with your daughter will take effort. You can start practicing habits like being present now that will help build a healthy relationship later.
- Learn to Listen
You can also strengthen your father-daughter relationship through listening. When you take time to listen and engage with your child, they feel valued and loved. Listening gets more important as your children get older and have more thoughts of their own.
For daughters, open communication builds confidence and security in your relationship. Healthy listening involves paying attention to what your daughter is saying and giving her a safe space to share her thoughts without judgment. However, this doesn’t mean that you should hide your thoughts or feelings from your child – open communication from you is also an essential part of building trust with your daughter.
As children get older and transition into adulthood, they may find it difficult for a time to remain open with their parents. If your child is becoming distant, keep offering them unconditional love and honest communication. Often, children are just looking for reassurance that their relationship with you is still secure.
- Give Verbal Validation
Modern culture sends girls terrible messages about their worth, their bodies, and what their life goals should be. As their father, you have a role to play in equipping your girls to recognize and avoid these harmful messages.
One of the best ways to protect your children’s confidence and sense of self-worth is to verbally validate them in healthy ways. For example, you can help your children connect “beauty” with their character instead of trendy fashion. Instead of saying, “You look pretty,” try saying, “The way you help your Mom is beautiful.”
Of course, the most important way to develop a healthy sense of self-worth is by offering your daughters unconditional love regardless of their behavior. Modeling healthy attitudes and behavior in yourself is the best way to validate healthy messages for your girls.
- Have Fun Together
Another way to build strong relationships with your daughters is to have fun together. Try new activities together like playing sports, hiking, or having dance parties. The options for what you can do are endless and will depend on each of your interests and your daughter’s age.
As your daughter gets older, you have an opportunity to develop her sense of confidence by teaching her new skills. Daughters with healthy father-daughter relationships are more likely to advance in education and their careers because they believe in themselves.
However, make sure that learning together isn’t too focused on achievement. Make every moment fun by relaxing and laughing together at what you experience. Your attitude toward life will shape the way your daughter sees the world and help her build resilience for whatever may come.
- Build Trust in Her
As a dad, one of the most important things you can do for your daughter is to develop her confidence in herself. Parenting is a continual process of learning to love and let go, and it can be tempting to want your child to rely on you forever.
However, the healthiest way to parent is to give your daughter the skills and confidence she needs to take on the world without you. If you invest in your child and believe in her, she will develop a sense of self-belief that will benefit her for the rest of her life.
Although it may feel counterintuitive, building your daughter’s trust in herself will also strengthen her bond with you. When she no longer has to depend on you, she can choose to develop your relationship because she loves you – not because she needs you. A strong sense of self will also equip her for future romantic relationships and resilience during tough times.
When Fathers Love Their Daughters
Women without strong father-daughter relationships are able to lead happy, successful lives. However, girls who experience love and support from their fathers from an early age are better equipped to believe in themselves and to develop healthy social and emotional skills.
Use these five steps to build a relationship with your daughter that gives her a strong foundation for her future. The degree of your involvement in her life will meaningfully shape her sense of self, changing the direction of her career and her future relationships. Developing a loving relationship with your daughter is the best gift you can give her.