We don’t hear much talk about the influence of fathers on daughters. It’s much more common to hear about how girls are influenced by their mothers. But all it takes is a moment’s reflection to start realizing the huge impact we fathers have on every one of our daughters.
To find the roots of a father’s influence, think of your own daughter. It’s normal and natural that she wants to know what’s interesting to, or gets the attention of, members of the opposite sex. That’s important knowledge for her to have even if she never dates a boy or marries a man, because she lives in a world half full of boys and men.
Where will she turn first for this information? Most often, she’ll turn to the first member of the opposite sex she gets to know: Dad. Even a stepfather, while not necessarily the first male a girl knows, has huge influence because he spends so much time with her.
So the way we act toward our daughters and the other females in her life is what she will expect from boys and men. The same is true for our attitudes, words and beliefs. In all of these, we represent to her the richness, honor and value of being a man. When we are true to her and true to the best in our masculine heritage, she will learn to respect men and treat them as equals.
She will learn to gravitate toward men who respect her and treat her as an equal, while turning away from men who threaten, violate and abuse. That’s good for both a daughter and her father. Perhaps that’s what’s behind the old saying: When a girl grows up, she marries her father. Her life partner is very likely to reflect her dad’s characteristics. As one woman put it:
My father is my one role model as far as male, human behavior. And I really compare all other men in the world to my father. He is the most loving, the most accepting, the most honorable, the most responsible, the most nurturing—one of the greatest humanitarians I’ve ever known. He is the model that I judge all other men by—fair or not fair. Having this kind of relationship with him has given me a lot of trust, and it’s given me a lot of nurturing and guidance. That love and support and encouragement I had through those years, and continue to have, has made me a much stronger person.