In honor of Father’s Day being right around the corner, why not discuss the dynamics of father daughter relationships, right?! In most cases, we hear a lot of discussion about fatherless household and how it affects young men in their development into manhood and how young men benefit from having an incessant positive male figure or role model in their lives. Infrequently do we hear chatter about how young women are affected by their relationship with their fathers, but surprisingly fathers also affect the lives of their young daughters in various ways depending on the type of relationship she experiences. It’s public fact a woman’s first relationship with a man is traditionally with her father. This relationship is a woman’s first insight into how a woman should be treated and lays the foundation for the expectation of what she should expect from the men in her life. A father is the first man that a girl is attached to and loves unconditionally, according to a “Psychology Today” blog, titled, “How Dads Shape Daughters’ Relationships,” by clinical psychologist Jennifer Kromberg. Furthermore, a woman’s relationship with her father has the ability to influence her behavior and mindset in both personal and professional ways, such as academics, career, as well as personal relationships. A woman is more likely to become a self-confident woman if she has a close connection with her father. A father's presence, or lack thereof, in his daughter's life will affect how she relates to all men who come after him, even well into adulthood.
If you ever find yourself questioning the type or quality of men you date, you may find your answer in the relationship you had with your father. We hear a lot about fatherless households within the black community and have heard numerous reports and studies as to how this affects us psychologically. Because a woman’s father is generally the first male figure she has in her life, whether it is conscious or unconscious, she will choose a partner based off her father’s traits. The relationship she had with her father influences her relationship with the men she chooses to date, just like other facets of her life. Depending on her relationship with her father and her experiences growing up, whether positive or negative, she will either gravitate toward a man with similar characteristics to her father, or go for the complete opposite. If a woman’s father was continuously and positively present in her life, similar to a 90’s television family sitcom, in a two-parent household on Sunnydale Drive, where every day was filled with positive memories, she is most likely to seek out men who have similar mannerisms and personality traits to her father, such as his intellect, sense of humor, compassion, confidence or integrity.
On the other hand, if a woman’s father was often absent from her life, or was filled with negative experiences, this could affect her different ways. First, depending on various other factors (if she had an alternative positive father figure, learned values and behaviors, self-esteem, etc) the majority of women identify common characteristics of their absent or negative father and avoid interacting with men who have any resemblance to their father. Secondly, some women who have unsettled father issues, often times tend to attach men with the exact traits of her father subconsciously, because she yearns to fulfill the void of her absent or neglectful father. If a woman’s relationship with her father was neglectful or she felt abandoned in any kind of way, in her adulthood she is most likely very emotionally needy in her relationships with men. This stems from her wanting to identify with a male figure in her life and obtaining that sacred father-daughter bond. She will find herself in relationships where she is always seeking attention and validation from her partner. If a woman’s father was abusive, whether sexually, physically, or verbally, it is most likely to adversely affect her interaction with the opposite sex. She may find men to be untrustworthy in relationships; even in life in general she may deem all men to be untrustworthy. Sometimes this leads woman who have experienced one form of abuse or another from her father to seek men she thinks are strong and have the ability to protect her; who in turn may turn out to be abusers themselves. If a woman’s father was absent from her life altogether and she did not have an alternative father figure she is more than likely very physically needy and tends to jump from one man to another without giving yourself time to breathe in between because she feels the need to always have a man be present in her life. If a woman never had a father or father figure in her life or has never been shown any type of unconditional platonic fatherly love, it may be hard for her to decipher between love and lust. Fatherly love cannot come from a romantic partner.
In summary, it’s no doubt the relationship a woman has with her father has a far reaching impact on her beliefs and behavior in relationships in her adulthood, but it does not have to define her life. While statistically, studies show that women who have great relationships and good communication with their fathers are most likely to have relationships with men that are emotionally intimate and fulfilling it does not mean that a woman who did not have the same experience is not capable of flourishing in a relationship. What is important is she identifies the type and dynamics of her relationship with her father and acknowledges how it has affected or could affect her interaction with her male counterparts. She should take the time to acknowledge her experiences with what her father did right and what he did wrong and examine how it has impacted her life.