5 Fantastic Ways to Encourage Father-Daughter Bonding

5 Fantastic Ways to Encourage Father-Daughter Bonding

Here’s why your daughter being “daddy’s little girl” is a wonderful thing!

By Wendy Robinson

My husband grew up in a household of boys. He was no. 4 of five, all born in a nine-year period. Three years ago, he was already a doting father to three sons when we discovered that we were expecting a daughter. Almost instantly, he started getting comments about how having a daughter would be so different and how she would “have him wrapped around her little finger.”

These comments drove him a bit crazy at first, because he rightly insisted that he loved all of his children and was already an affectionate caregiver, something he didn’t expect a daughter to change.

And then Evelyn arrived.

Evelyn is a daddy’s girl through and through, and my husband is continually delighted by her. Their relationship is special and even though I am occasionally sad that I’m not her “favorite” parent, I know how valuable the father-daughter relationship is.

Girls who have a healthy and engaged relationship with their fathers are shown to have higher IQs, to be more academically ready to start school, and are better able to handle stress and frustration. Teenage daughters with positive father relationships are also more likely to perform better academically and to have a higher level of ambition in the long run.

Given how important this relationship is, there are a lot of ways to encourage dads and daughters to bond. Thankfully, it can be both easy and fun.

1. Play: Play is an integral part of the father-child relationship. Dads are often more likely to engage in physical and active play (also known as “roughhousing” or “please stop wrestling on the couch, honey!”), and this kind of play offers a safe arena for kids to explore their own strength, to develop respect for limits and boundaries and to learn problem solving.

2. Walk her to school: Not only does walking (or driving) her to school give dads and daughters one-on-one time, it also helps fathers engage with the teachers and demonstrate an interest in their daughters’ education.

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3. Develop a special tradition: Jamie F., a teacher in Arizona, remembers fondly that it was always her father’s job to take her shopping for special occasion dresses, from Easter dresses as a girl to her wedding dress as an adult. Those shopping trips were always a special occasion and a way for them to bond at important moments in her life.

Similarly, Heather P., a counselor in Iowa, notes that her father always took her out for breakfast, even when she was “a surly teenager.” She explains: “I pretended to think it was a stupid tradition, but now I can see that it was really important to me. I just turned 40 and went for pancakes with my dad, something I plan to do as long as I can.”

4. Encourage her academic and athletic achievements: Whether that means volunteering for school science fair duty or coaching her T-ball team, girls benefit when their fathers promote their academic or athletic goals.

5. Make family time a priority: Daughters benefit when they spend time bonding with their dads and their moms. Try to make a point of doing some engaged activity (not watching TV) at least once a week and model parenting and marriage as a partnership.

As my Evelyn grows up, I hope she’ll keep being her daddy’s girl, and that the unconditional love he has shown her will make her refuse to settle for anything less from her future romantic partners.

How does your daughter bond with her father?

Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom, and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again. She also blogs at www.athleticmonkey.com.

Image ©iStock.com/svetikd

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I was just spending time with my friend’s two step-daughters, and they really bonded with me in just one day because I actually spent time with them and asked them questions about their life. I think many parents forget how important just listening and being interested is. All you have to do is make your kids feel like they’re really important and be interested in their lives. A great way to bond is by learning together too… here’s a cool site: www.preparemykid.com

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