Dads and the Influence They Have on Their Daughters

As a father, what are some of the key roles that I play in the life of my daughter? What areas in her life should I focus on and what are some things I can do to create a healthy relationship between us?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Dr. David Popenoe, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University and Co-Director of the National Marriage Project, says that fathers have a “significantly different parenting style.” Herein lies the secret of a dad’s contribution to the lives of his kids. Men and women are different, and as a result mothers and fathers parent their children differently. These differences come into play in a uniquely powerful way in opposite-sex parent-child relationships. This is particularly true in the case of fathers and daughters.

Dr. Popenoe has this to say about the importance of a father’s role in the family:

Fathers are far more than just “second adults” in the home. Involved fathers – especially biological fathers – bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring. They provide protection and economic support and male role models. They have a parenting style that is significantly different from that of a mother and that difference is important in healthy child development.David Popenoe, Life Without Father, (New York: The Free Press, 1996)

A good father does things for his daughter that no mother is equipped to do. In the first place, he provides her with a positive male role model. In this way, he shows her what her future husband should look like. This is perhaps the most crucial gift he can give his little girl. He doesn’t do this by focusing his attention upon her. Instead, it happens as he devotes himself to her mother. A husband is called to love his wife selflessly, just as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25-29). When he does this, he says in effect, “This is how a man treats a woman.” In so doing, whether he realizes it or not, he affirms his daughter’s femininity. He bolsters her self-esteem and self-confidence. He gives her a solid foundation for life-long self-respect.

All of this prepares her to have healthier relationships with boys in adolescence and with men in adulthood. When a girl has learned from her father’s example how a proper man acts toward a proper woman, she has an intuitive sense of boundaries in relationships. She understands the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior between the sexes. Through her dad she gains a healthy familiarity with the world of men. She learns how a man’s facial stubble feels and what it’s like to be hugged or held by strong arms. This familiarity makes her emotionally secure and keeps her safe from the exploitation of predatory males.

As we’ve already said, the most important piece of this puzzle is something that you can’t really plan or contrive. It’s what your daughter observes when she sees you interacting with your wife on a daily basis. But there are a number of other things you can do to help amplify the message in a more intentional and direct way. You can, for example, take time to date your daughter on a regular basis. You can get together over coffee or spend an hour talking over a nice meal at her favorite restaurant. You can make a point of attending father-daughter dances and banquets with her. You can even help her plan a “coming of age” ceremony. You can design that ceremony to symbolize everything she’s come to believe about the purpose of her own life and the meaning of her blossoming womanhood. You’d be surprised at the impact an event like this can have on a growing girl.

As you set out on this exciting adventure in fatherhood, remember that your daughter has certain basic needs that you can fulfill as almost no one else can. She needs to be cherished and affirmed for who she is. She needs nurturing and protection. She needs to feel beautiful and to understand that inner beauty is far more important than outward appearance. She needs verbal reassurance and appropriate physical touch. She needs to know in her heart that her dad is a man of integrity who keeps his word and follows through on his promises. Meet these needs, and you will do more than prepare her to meet the challenges of life in this world. You will teach her what it means to trust her heavenly Father. You will show her how to present herself to Christ, the heavenly groom, as a pure and spotless bride.

If you think it might be helpful to discuss your questions at greater length with a member of our team, Focus on the Family has a staff of professional counselors available who would love to talk with you over the phone. If this option appeals to you, call our Counseling department for a free consultation. They’ll be happy to assist you in any way they can.


Related Video
What Is the Best Way to Affirm My Teen Daughter?: Joe White discusses the struggles adolescent girls often face and how the affirmation of fathers can be vital in helping their daughters navigate challenges.

If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

She Calls Me Daddy

What a Difference a Daddy Makes: The Indellible Imprint a Dad Leaves on His Daughter’s Life

What A Daughter Needs from Her Dad: How a Man Prepares His Daughter for Life

52 Things Kids Need from a Dad

Healing the Father Wound

The Vital Role of Fathering

National Center for Fathering


A Date With Dad

The Power of Fathers

The Husband and Father’s Role

The Involved Father


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.