Fathers play a huge role in the molding and shaping of their daughters. Oftentimes, a daughter’s success later in life can be traced to having had a father who was a true partner, one who was actively and genuinely involved in her upbringing.
In the Institute for Families website, author and professor of educational and adolescent psychology Linda Nielsen writes that daughters whose fathers have been actively engaged throughout childhood in promoting their academic or athletic achievements, and encouraging their self-reliance and assertiveness, are more likely to graduate from college and enter the higher-paying, more demanding jobs traditionally held by males.
Nielsen says even in sports, dads who were actively engaged in nurturing their daughters’ passion for a specific sport contributed greatly to their success as athletes: “College and professional female athletes often credit their fathers for helping them to become tenacious, self-disciplined, ambitious and successful.”
That would certainly make for an interesting hypothesis on a paper about our female collegiate volleyball athletes. Who among them would credit their dad’s support and inspiration as part of their success?
Nielsen also correlates a father’s influence on his daughter’s romantic life and reproductive health. A girl, she says, who has a secure, supportive, communicative relationship with her father is less likely to get pregnant as a teenager and less likely to become sexually active in her early teens, perhaps because she has a safe, healthy and comfortable relationship with her father, and has been mentored well.
“This, in turn, leads to waiting longer to get married and to have children—largely because she is focused on achieving her education goals first,” says Nielsen.
Even the realm of mental health is affected by the quality of a girl’s relationship with her father. According to Nielsen, there is an emerging body of studies that has found an intriguing link between the way daughters deal with stress as adults and the kind of relationships they had with their dads during childhood.
According to the study, “undergraduate women who did not have good relationships with their fathers had lower than normal cortisol levels. And people with low cortisol levels tend to be overly sensitive and overly reactive when confronted with stress. Indeed, the low-cortisol daughters were more likely than the higher-cortisol daughters (who had the better relationships with their dads) to describe their relationships with men in stressful terms of rejection, unpredictability or coercion.”
Perhaps, this also explains why girls who tend to get attracted to emotionally unavailable men more often than not had fathers who themselves were emotionally distant in their daughters’ lives. And girls who grew up in abusive households are themselves often unconsciously drawn to men who play out the same abuse that were perpetrated on their mothers.
It is, therefore, very important for fathers to ensure that their daughters (and sons) grow up in an environment where they are fully engaged and emotionally available. It isn’t just the financial support that matters, after all, but the psychological and the emotional aspects as well.
Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Sen. Grace Poe, someone we could consider very successful in her career as a public servant, and very blessed in her personal life as well, what her thoughts were about her dad this Father’s Day, more so as she finds herself in the center of the news lately.
Her reply gives us a glimpse of the kind of father the late FPJ was, and how his legacy continues to live on in the daughter that he and Susan Roces lovingly raised as their own.
“My dad was the one who taught me by example what unconditional love is. He was not one to talk much, but he always showed me how to remain humble and magnanimous. My mom told me the reason my dad was compassionate and generous to a fault was because he never forgot how it was to be poor. That is why he was genuine in his ways, and his films and dealings were always about social justice and uplifting the lives of those in need.”
If you’re reading this and still have your father around, make sure, at the very least, to give him a call and celebrate him on this special day.
If you, like me, no longer have your dad around, choose still to celebrate and give thanks for all he was, for all the lessons he imparted, and the memories you built together that helped shape who you are today.
Happy Father’s Day to all dads, papas, tatays, and to all mothers acting as fathers. May you all have a day wrapped in joy and surrounded by everyone you love.