This past weekend I went on my first solo trip to Chicago since having kids. Traveling alone for the first time in six years made coach feel like First Class! A little People magazine, a good book, a nap…It was glorious! And as it turns out, Dad and the daughters had a pretty glorious weekend too!
I make mention of this great daddy-daughter weekend, not because I thought it would have gone otherwise, but because I think this special relationship is worth noting. Dads and daughters truly have the potential for bringing out the very best in each other. Now, I’m not about to start waxing poetic…there happens to be some research to back-up this claim.
A study recently published in Social Forces revealed that men who have daughters are more likely to abandon their beliefs on traditional gender roles. This study found that while new dads discard some gendered expectations after having daughters, the same statistically significant effect was not found with new moms. Explanations for why the same degree of change was not found among mothers included: women start off supporting traditional gender roles less than men do; women are already exposed to gender based discrimination and men may notice it more after having a daughter; and dads may take on the self-interests of their daughters as their own while similar self-interests already existed for moms. But whatever the case may be, having a daughter has a positive and significant impact on a dad’s attitudes and expectations.
While daughters bring out positive changes in their dads, dads, too, play a considerable role in helping daughters to reach their full potential. I remember learning in my undergrad years that a dad’s expectation for his daughter’s achievement has a far greater impact than expectations communicated in any other parent-child relationship. Meaning that when a daughter hears from her dad (or more importantly, intrinsically knows and believes) that she can be anything she sets her mind to, that she is smart, capable and able to achieve great things…it’s more likely that she will. I share this as a memory, for I have not been able to put my finger on the study (or studies) that claimed these results. And in no way do I mean to say that a mom’s expectations are not significant. I wholeheartedly believe they are very significant. But this post is about fathers and daughters and the ways in which they enrich each others’ lives.
So keeping this important relationship in mind, my feelings were totally not hurt when my daughters could barely tear themselves away from the paper airplane project they were creating with Dad when I returned home after two days away. While I didn’t get the enthusiastic, “Welcome home!” I was anticipating, what I did receive was way more meaningful – the realization that this strong, loving, reciprocal relationship between my daughters and their dad heightens important qualities and characteristics in each of them and sets the stage for healthy, harmonious relationships for my kids in the future.
Related articles and post of Dad-Daughter Relationships:
Jay Z’s Newfound Feminist Fatherhood Sociological Images
Daughters Make Dads Let Go Of Gender Roles, Says Study Huff Post Parents
Dads and Daughters: How To Inspire, Understand and Support Your Daughter When She Is Growing Up So Fast by Joe Kelly