I've been saying it, teaching it, for decades. Men, you have a unique role in the life of your daughter – and, specifically, her future relationships with men.
And now the research is out to back it up, thanks to a study published in the journal Developmental Psychology.
It has now been established that if a dad is detached, or uninvolved, then his daughter will be more promiscuous. Yes, fathers matter that much to the development of their daughters. "If [they] communicated well with their fathers and felt close to them, they experienced much more parental monitoring and hung out far less with sexually risk-prone peers." Going further, "The prolonged presence of a warm and engaged father can buffer girls against early, high-risk sex."
"It's all about dosage of exposure to dads; the bigger the dose, the more fathering matters…"
Take that into Father's Day.
Men, you are the ones making a difference in your daughter's life. You are the ones establishing what conduct, what behavior, she will accept or reject.
I took my daughters out on "dates" and treated them like the princesses they were. I demonstrated how the father/man in their life felt about them, honored them, cherished them. I set a standard for how they should expect men to treat them.
I lavished physical affection and emotional attention on my daughters. I did not want them to have a man-shaped hole as a result of a distant father whose love they craved. I still can't go too long without draping them in a hug.
I taught my boys to honor women, starting with the women in our family. My wife and my two daughters were protected by the three men in their life. They were deferred to. The three of us opened doors for them, gave up seats in crowded areas, pulled back chairs for them at a restaurant. I was not only teaching my boys how to be real men, but creating a nurturing environment for my wife and daughters to reinforce their sense of self-esteem.
I worked hard to keep open the lines of communication, particularly as they got older. I would bring them with me on trips, we would sit at Starbucks, I would sit on their beds at night, I would constantly ask questions.
My daughters had a father who was far less than perfect, had more than his fair share of sin, and made many mistakes.
But I loved them, and they knew it.
I was there for them, and they could count on it.
I would talk with them, and they could talk with me.
They were fathered.
And that can make all the difference in the world.
James Emery White
Melvin Konner, "The Link Between Detached Dads and Risk-Taking Girls," The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2017, read online.