Daddys and Their Daughters

2010 January 13

“Daddy, no! I’m going to run into the prickly bush. I can’t do it,” I whimpered. I was teetering precariously on my new, pink two-wheeled bike.

My dad – patient, understanding, wise yet firm walked up to me and steadied me on my bike, holding the back of the seat.


“Gracie, you’re going to have to trust me. We start small, then pretty soon you will be cruising around the block. No problem.”

I didn’t believe him, but I did trust him. Little did I know, my dad had slowly let go of the back of the seat while coaxing, “You’re going to be fine. You’re going to be fine.”

The prickly bushes, lining our sidewalk in front of the house were looming in front of me. I think I closed my eyes and I probably was screaming, but all I heard was my dad encouraging me on. I passed those prickly bushes and gasped, realizing he wasn’t holding on and I was riding on my own.

To this day, my dad remembers my “hooting and hollering,” for excitement. To this day, I remember the way my dad’s eyes twinkled, his chuckle and the way he proudly ruffled my dark brown hair and kissed me on the forehead.

Daddy’s and their daughters hold a lot of weight in our society. I feel immensely lucky, to have a dad who loves, supports and challenges me.

Beyond these moments of letting go of my bike seat so I could ride on my own, he created and ran his own business from scratch, but still had time when he was in town and not traveling for work to come to horse shows, watch me lose and win in basketball games, be patient through teenage years of boyfriends, arguing, slamming doors, holding me and listening through heartache, then dropping me off at college 1500 miles from home and encouraging me to spread my wings, travel and relocate. He has helped me negotiate my first raise, shared mistakes he made while growing up, discussed finances by bringing me into his business, sharing our love for our Italian culture, writing guest posts on my blog, learning to tweet, traveling around the world together and talking about what death and life means to him.

I feel equipped for life and love, because of my dad.

n68900085_30571620_5931The Impact Daddy’s Have On Their Daughters

I care about what my dad thinks. Father’s also have a strong impact on influencing their daughters’ body image, thought process and relationship in terms of communication, trust and sexuality with their partners, for years to come.

Luckily, from a young age my dad recognized this. He lost his mother when he was just 20 and fighting in Vietnam, against his will. Six years later, he father passed away. Before finding success, he started four businesses and failed each time. I look at my dad’s life as one enormous, steep learning curve that he passed onto me.

Science Daily reflects on a study between Father-Daughter relationships that “the fathers’ involvement, rather than the mothers’…seems to be paramount to the age of the girls’ development.” Furthermore, “researchers believe that girls have evolved to experience early socialization, with their “antennae” tuned to the fathers’ role in the family (both in terms of father-daughter and father-mother relationships).”

Largely, the relationship you had with your dad (or lack thereof) has one of the biggest impacts on the adult you. How has this affected you? Positively or negatively?

*Photo 1, with Dad in France. Photo 2, at my college graduation

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  • Rich DeMatteo

    Hey Grace, I loved this! My psychology background was interested in this, and while I haven't studied the impact of the relationships, I know father/daughter and mother/son do impact the daughter or son greatly.

    John Mayer talks about this in “daughters” and it makes a lot of sense.

    All ties in with the Electra Complex

  • emilyjasper

    I have a very strong relationship with my father. He was gone most of my childhood since he was an officer in the Navy. What that meant though, was when he was home, he made those moments count. He always jokes that I'm just like my mother, but my mom and I know that I'm the picture of my dad. Most of my decisions in life have been shaped around how I think he'll receive the news or how he may have helped me arrive to that choice. Thanks for the post Grace!

  • Rachel F

    Grace! I love this…Father-daughter relationships are so special. I was lucky in the same way you were in that my dad has always been there for me. Not letting me get away with just answering a question but having to know the “why” behind it. He has influenced me in ways I am continuously surprised by. Good thoughts!

  • Rebecca

    I really love reading about fathers and daughters since my father died when I was so young. His loss has probably defined me as much as his presence would have… I have many memories of him though, including working on the training wheels, and 0ne of my favorite things is when I'm complaining to my mother about my boyfriend, she says things like, “That's just men. Your father was just like that.” For some reason, his fallibility makes him seem more real to me.

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  • Rachel Vincent

    Grace. I loved loved this post. I would further this too, from a religious perspective. As a highly religious person who believes in one God, I think that often the father daughter relationship affects how we think of our relationship to God, if we are religious of course. :)

    My Dad is one of my best friends. He is patient, a good listener, supportive when I am successful or when I make mistakes, fun-loving, successful, prioritizes his family, and just all around amazing person. Most importantly, I have always felt unconditional love from him, knowing that while he doesn't always agree with my choices, nothing I could ever do would change that love. As a result, I've always felt the same about my relationship with God. I assumed others did too. As I got older I realized that my friends that had tough relationships with their fathers, lots of arguing, grudge-holding, judgement, etc, often felt the same about God as they did about their fathers. I don't know of any study on this, it is just a personal observation. However, for those of us that are religious, that adds an entirely new dimension to the importance that a father plays in his daughters life.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Emily It's good to hear and thank you for sharing your story about your father! Sometimes we underestimate the way we care about what they say and how he will react when we tell them news (bad or good).

  • Grace Boyle

    @Rachel You bring up a great point – he doesn't answer a question and dismiss you, he goes a level deeper and presents the why. Very important. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Rebecca I love how you say, “his fallibility makes him seem more real to me.” That's beautiful and although you still have memories of him, his loss has defined you just as much currently. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Rachel Vincent Thank you! Your Dad sounds so supportive of you and thank you for sharing your story, viewpoint and the way the relationship also affects your relationship to God.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Rich I started the post to dive deeper into the psychological affects of father/daughter relationships, but realized I wanted to speak from experience and the heart. So I mixed the two and I'm glad you found an interest in it and enjoyed it.

    And yes, that's another interesting post in itself: Electra Complex!

  • AndreaVLewis

    Hi Grace, I couldn't agree more with your post. As someone who grew up by the hands of a single mom and a non-existent father, I know first hand the emotional hurdles that a woman goes through when she doesn't get the love needed by a male figure in her life.

    I think in the back of my mind that's why I've waited to so patiently (I'm in my 30s)to have a child until my husband is ready on this terms. His support, love, and guidance will make the difference in our child's potential.

    Great topic! Thanks for sharing.

  • Dominique

    Thank you so much for posting this. I don't have a relationship with my father as he was abusive to my family for many years and I cut off communication. Fortunately I have other people that have played a fatherly role in my life.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Andrew Thank you for sharing your story and the struggles along the way. No doubt, you are stronger and a great parent team with your husband for your child. I'm glad you enjoyed the topic, thanks for stopping by!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Dominique You bring up a great point – that there are other people who can play fatherly roles in our lives, which can be important and beneficial. Thank you for sharing your story – life definitely isn't easy but along the way, each moment defines and molds us and always means, we have the opportunity to offer something else for our own families we may someday create.

  • sameve

    Beautiful post, I love it! I'm very close with my dad too, and always have been. When I was little, we would have frozen yogurt dates on his day off. Now, he rides the train from Long Island into Manhattan on his day off to have lunch with me near my office. My dad taught me all I know about sports and taught me how to be a fan. I could go on and on about the things he has taught me and the positive ways our relationship has affected my life. You're right, the father-daughter bond is so important, and we are lucky to have amazing dads :)

  • Grace Boyle

    @Sam Aw, I love hearing your story (and everyone's here, positive or negative). Sometimes we forget that a simple relationship as great as the one you have with your father can mean so much. I don't take it for granted, ever, but just writing this post made me smile and my heart swell! We are lucky :)

  • Akirah

    I love this as well. My father has played a big role in my life, but sometimes I wish we were closer in certain ways. I mean, I could talk about the situation in Sudan for hours with my father, but I wouldn't dare tell him about boys I'm dating. I can see how this has affected my dating life…I think I'd have more confidence and I wouldn't put up with the crap that I've put up with if my father was more encouraging in that way.

    I'm glad you have a loving father who supports you in all you do.

  • Jennifer

    I loved this. I'm a Daddy's Girl, too. :)

  • Mehnaz

    Fabulous post! It's one of those things I love to see in other people, because I don't have it myself. I say being a child of divorce, and then on top of that having no relationship with my father for a decade, has has a huge impact on how I view people, and especially men. It gives you a trust-related complex that you have to work to overcome everyday.
    On the bright side, I've been able to find people to take over his role in various capacities; and these are people that I can rely on wholeheartedly.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Jennifer Aw, good! Thanks for your kind words and stopping by

  • Grace Boyle

    @Mehnaz Thank you for sharing your story. We all have a different one to share and talk about, which I think, is important for everyone to hear multiple sides. It's good to know there are other people who have filled the 'fatherly' role for you and that you can rely on.

  • Adriana Hernandez

    What a beautiful post Grace! I grew up without being close to my father since my parents divorced when I was seven. I never noticed the void of the father daughter relationship until later in life when I realized that I had always picked male teachers, doctors, and friends.
    Even though I had a strong mother who was raised 4 kids on her own I feel that I missed out on a special relationship. More dads need to read great posts like this so that they know how much of an impact they can have on their kids life.

  • LostInCheeseland

    Great post, Grace. I've always had a closer bond with my dad than my mom and I can see the similarities between him and my husband. It's true what they say, women DO look for men that ultimately remind them of their fathers (obviously more so when the father has been a positive influence). I know that my father would do anything for me, regardless of whether I'm in Paris and despite the fact that he now has a young child occupying his time. The bond is everlasting.

  • Beth Oppenheim

    Man oh man this post was definitely tear producing. I actually really was inspired by the way that you speak about your dad. It is wonderful that you can count on him for all of the aspects of your life for which his perspective is important. I have had a very volatile relationship with my dad, and understand the importance of this relationship when it comes to relating to daughters.

    Your words are really honest and moving, and I am really glad that you take the time to express these types of personal sentiments. It really is great for you as well as your readers!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Adriana You bring up a great point that you noticed picking male teachers, doctors and friends. We often try to fill a void of something missing, even if it's not conscious. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope other dads do read my post :)

  • Grace Boyle

    @Lindsey That is another great post and I came across how women look for their father in husbands. You're right, the bond is everlasting. Thanks for sharing and I'm glad you've enjoyed the post!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Beth Oh thank you, that means so much. Thank you for sharing your story – I know it's not always easy but I have learned through our struggles that sharing our stories and listening to experiences really helps. Thank you again, Beth!

  • Sam Davidson

    This post – unknowingly and aptly written on the day of my daughter's birth – is one I'll come back to read again and again. Thanks for writing about this.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Sam Thank you for the comment and RT. It means a lot to me that you enjoyed this post and that the timing was serendipitous and meaningful for you. Congratulations again on the birth of your daughter and thanks for stopping by!

  • Grace Boyle

    @Sam Thank you for the comment and RT. It means a lot to me that you enjoyed this post and that the timing was serendipitous and meaningful for you. Congratulations again on the birth of your daughter and thanks for stopping by!

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  • Diane Denbaum

    I remember how moved I was when I heard Ash play the song with these lyrics, “Father's be good to your daughters. Daughters become lovers who turn into mothers. So fathers be good to your daughters.” You are very blessed and I can see you realize and appreciate that.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Diane Thanks :) Love that song.

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