Growing up Fatherless “When a child grows up without a father, there is an empty place where someone must stand, Providing an example of character and confidence. ” ~ Steve Largent Fathers generally have as much or more influence than mothers on many aspects of their daughters’ lives. Fathers have a greater impact on their daughter’s long-term (romantic) male relationships because of their ability to trust, enjoy, and relate well to the males in their life. Girls with involved, fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with the opposite sex because they learn from their fathers how proper men act toward women.
They also have a healthy familiarity with the world of men; they don’t wonder how a man’s facial stubble feels or what it’s like to be hugged by strong arms. This knowledge builds emotional security and safety from the exploitation of predatory males. Well-fathered daughters are also more aware of their sexuality, body image, social skills, and their academic goals because they are usually more self-confident, more self-reliant, and more successful in school and in their careers than poorly fathered daughters.
A Father’s Influence and Involvement is imperative for adolescent girls.
In a study taken eight years ago; only thirty percent of fathers believed that active involvement in their daughter’s life was vital to their health and well being (Roper Poll, 2004). On the other hand, the same study showed that nearly eighty percent of college-aged girls wished the relationship they had with their father was emotionally and personally closer, so they could more closely and comfortably communicate about such personal issues as marital problems and divorce, drug and alcohol use, financial matters, depression, eating disorders, and sex before marriage.
When girls are exposed to a stressful environment, especially when it is due to a father’s absence in the first 7 years of her life, they tend to have an early onset to puberty, advanced sexuality, and unstable relationships as adults. It is clear that girls who grow up without a father (especially if he abandoned them) are significantly more prone to destructive behavior than those who have a father present. It therefore seems that a father indeed has influence on his daughter and on her development as a whole person.
A daughter will be a different kind of person depending on the level of involvement her father has. The question now remains: In what specific ways, or in which areas of life, does a father influence? A young girl’s relationship with her family, especially with her father, may influence at what age she enters puberty, according to Vanderbilt University researchers. The study looked at 173 girls and their families from the time the girls were in pre-kindergarten until they were in the seventh grade.
Girls who had close, positive relationships with their parents during the first five years of life tended to experience relatively late puberty, compared to girls who had more distant relationships with their parents. More specifically, the researchers found that the quality of fathers’ involvement with daughters was the most important feature of the early family environment in relation to the timing of the daughters’ puberty so that girls growing up in father-present conditions reach puberty later than girls growing up without a father present.
The information is important because multiple studies show that when girls reach puberty younger, they become sexually active earlier and are more likely to get pregnant in their teens. Daughters of single mothers are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 111% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a premarital birth and 92% more likely to dissolve their own marriages. Researchers have found that when girls entered puberty later, they generally had fathers who were active participants in care giving; had fathers who were supportive to the girls’ mothers; and had positive relationships with their mothers.
However, it was the fathers’ involvement, rather than the mothers’, which seems to be paramount to girls’ physiological development. The researchers believe that girls have evolved to experience early socialization, with their biological “antennae” tuned to the fathers’ role in the family (both in terms of father-daughter and father-mother relationships) and that girls may unconsciously adjust their timing of puberty based on their fathers’ behavior.
It is often said that a daughter is attracted to, or marries, someone just like her father. It appears that this might indeed be the case, or at least a factor, in how a daughter chooses a spouse or a romantic partner. According to a study conducted on college students (both male and female) by Knox, Zusman and DeCuzzi, “offspring whose parents were divorced were more likely to avoid short-term relationships”. These young women and en are more likely to be more cautious than their peers who have married parents, because they have experienced first hand the pain that results from a broken relationship. Author Victoria Secunda says that the “greatest impact on a woman’s romantic choices and ability to feel comfortable in her own sexuality is how her father related to her in childhood”. A daughter’s romantic choices will be tainted by the way her father treated her whether she likes it or not. Certain behaviors on his part will trigger her behaviors.
Further, there have been numerous studies on the negative effects that an absent father has on his daughter’s romantic relationships. Krohn and Bogan summarized them in this way: “numerous studies [indicate] that girls from fatherless families develop more promiscuous attitudes and experience difficulty in forming or maintaining romantic relations later in their development… These behavioral patterns are carried with them into womanhood and may be the cause of their unfulfilling relationships with men”. Fathers may be able to provide daughters with unique perspectives, enhance their overall understanding of men, and provide opportunities to role-play communication strategies with men” (Hutchenson). The way a young woman is going to view the opposite sex is going to come from her early memories of the opposite sex; the memories of her father and the way in which he treated her and the women around her. Whether it is a positive or negative view is going to depend a good deal on what the girl’s father was like and whether he was there or not.
First, there is the father who is present, whether involved or not: “Girls who have little contact with their fathers have great difficulties forming lasting relationships with men…while those with involved fathers learn how to interact with males by using the father-daughter relationship as a model” (Krohn & Bogan). If this model is positive and loving, a girl will view the opposite sex with confidence and trust. If the model is negative, the girl will view the opposite sex with fear and doubt.
Then there is the father who is absent. The experience a girl has when she loses her father, whether by divorce, abandonment, or death, will shape the way she views men. Girls who lose their fathers to divorce or abandonment tend to be more critical of their fathers and the opposite sex. Girls who lose their father to death, however, have a positive view of their father and feel the sadness of his loss and often avoid other men. It seems then that girls are going to have xpectations of how they will be treated by men, what they are worth in men’s eyes, and what to expect from men from their experiences with their fathers. The circumstances under which they lost him, however, will play a role in that. A father’s influence can have large implications on how promiscuous his daughter is with her physical sexuality. According to Krohn and Bogan, “Females who lose their fathers to divorce or abandonment seek much more attention from men and had more physical contact with boys their age than girls from intact homes”.
They also warn that “girls who have little contact with their fathers, especially during adolescence had great difficulties forming lasting relationships with men… these females either shy away from males altogether, or become sexually aggressive”. Other studies found, among other things, that “fathers may play an important role through the discussion of socio-sexual issues with daughters” (Hutchenson). Further, communication and relationships with fathers are also potentially important influences of daughters’ sexual attitude and behaviors and fathers are important sources of discussion of more general moral and sexual issues (Hutchenson).
Although both the father and the mother are important in talking to and teaching their daughters about sexuality, the father has a unique influence that the mother may not; he provides a male perspective and often a standard of morality when it comes to his daughter’s sexuality. “Available fathers who talked to, praised, and responded to their daughters boost their girls’ social responsiveness and positive feeling about self beyond the level of those girls whose fathers were uninvolved” (Krohn & Bogan).
A girl’s body image is significantly affected by the culture in which she lives but also by the way men in her life view her and other women. It is far less likely for a girl who has a loving, praising father to succumb to an eating disorder in order to feel better about her. An extensive study by Botta and Dumlao came to several conclusions regarding the link between eating disorders, communication styles, and conflict resolution patterns between a father and a daughter. Their research indicated, “Skilled conflict resolution and open communication between father and daughter may offset eating disorders”.
They came to this conclusion when they realized that “a dysfunctional early family environment leads to a negative self-image, which contributes to… self-directed hostility” (Botta & Dumlao). Self-directed hostility is referring to the eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia, which are used by girls to try to control their body. Further, Botta and Dumlao found that “conflict resolution offering relief from aversive emotional states should help alleviate the need for self-directed hostility and bulimic behaviors”. Children learn their social skills from their parents.
Yet, according to Updegraff, McHale, Crouter, & Kupanoff there have been few studies conducted on the relationship between a father and daughter and her peers/social skills. It is clear, they said, that parents interact more with the children and their peers of the same gender (mother/daughter and father/son). It remains to be seen how much of an influence a father has on his daughter’s peer relationships and, thus, her social skills in that area. However, there is some research pertaining to this area. Perkins conducted a study of college-aged women and the influence their fathers had on their life styles.
She stated, “if theorists are correct, it may be assumed that the father-daughter relationship has the potential to shape interaction patterns that surface as women enter into adult college relationships” (Perkins). Therefore, it seems that a girl’s relationship with her father will often dictate her life style and the choices she makes socially as an adult. It appears that a girl’s success in school has at least a little bit to do with having a father in her life. “Researchers agree the females who lack father figures are more prone to experience diminished cognitive development and poor school performance (Krohn & Bogan).
Research also found that “well-fathered daughters are usually more self-confident, more self-reliant, and more successful in school and in their careers than poorly-fathered daughters” (Nielsen). A father figure is needed for academic encouragement and support, and a daughter seems to react negatively in academics without a father present. Further, studies have shown that “females with absent fathers often have diminished cognitive development; poor school performance, lower achievement test scores, and lower IQ scores” (Krohn & Bogan).
Also, not having a father tends to either discourage college attendance or push girls to achieve the highest possible standards in an effort to gain their father’s missing approval (Krohn & Bogan). Adolescent girls obtain secure foundations knowing what their fathers believe in and stand for. A solid foundation is essential for success in both academics and a career. Daughters without this foundation are prone to giving up easily and not following through if they start college at all.
Despite their importance in the home, researchers have described the decline of fatherhood as one of the most basic, unexpected, and extraordinary trends of our time. In 1960, only 11% of children in the U. S. lived apart from their fathers. By 2010, that share had risen to 27%. Additionally, fathers’ living arrangements are strongly correlated with race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status as measured by educational attainment. Black fathers are more than twice as likely as white fathers to live apart from their children (44% vs. 21%), while Hispanic fathers fall in the middle (35%).
Among fathers who never completed high school, 40% live apart from their children. This compares with only 7% of fathers who graduated from college. On the average, just over half (55%) of men with biological children are married to the biological mother of all of those children. An additional 7% of biological fathers are cohabiting with the mother of their children. On the other hand, Black biological fathers are far less likely than white biological fathers to be married to the mother of their children. Some 36% of Black biological fathers are not married, compared with 59% of whites. Among Hispanic biological fathers, this share is 50%.
Similarly, fathers under age 30 are less likely than older fathers to be married to the mother of their children. Yet, more than half of fathers ages 20-24 (53%) and 25-29 (62%) are still in a relationship – marital or cohabiting – with the mother of their children. Now days, there is a lot of discussion about the role of men in the lives of their sons. On the other hand, there is much less mention of the roles of fathers in the lives of their daughters. One example of someone who has looked at the roles of dads in the lives of girls was the producer of the documentary, Daddy Hunger, Ray Upchurch.
In his film, Daddy Hunger, Upchurch courageously addresses the absence of fathers in the home and the community as he looks into the lives of convicted murderers, pimps, single mothers, and fatherless children. Likewise, psychological studies addressing the impact of fathers on both the biological and emotional development of girls show equally compelling evidence that girls are in need of fathering. For example, in one study, a team led by psychologist Bruce Ellis of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, England, followed more than 700 girls from preschool to age 17 or 18, monitoring 10 different aspects of heir lives including family income, behavioral problems, exposure to violence and parenting styles. The study confirmed that teenage girls raised without fathers are more likely to suffer from depression, drop out of school, and have other behavioral problems. If we put aside the statistics, studies and other analytical thoughts surrounding the importance of father’s in women lives and just focus on the common sense fundamental aspects of it like – how else would a young girl learn what the role of a father/husband is if she never had or saw one? How would she know what love looks like from a man, if she never received loved from the first man in her life? Or how does she determine a future life partner if she never saw a successful one; maybe we can start paying closer attention to the choices we make and vow to break the cycle so our children can have better experiences. We can’t turn back the hands of time and rewrite our childhoods but what we can do is make better decisions as adults by being honest with our issues and making an effort to better our situations.
So on behalf of all fatherless girls, I say to all the men out there, “We need you”. Bibliography Botta, R. , & Dumlao, R. (2002). How do conflict and communication patterns between fathers and daughters contribute to or offset eating disorders? Health Communication, 14(2), 199-219. Comings, D. , Muhleman, D. , Johnson J. , & MacMurray, J. (July/Aug 2002). Parent-daughter transmission of the androgen receptor gene as and explanation of the effect of father absence on age of menarche. Child Development, 73(4), 1046-1051. Healey, Joseph F. (2005). Statistics: A tool for social research.
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Hutchenson, K. M. (2002, July). The influence of sexual risk communication between parents and daughters on sexual risk behaviors. Family Relations. 51(3), 238-248. Retrieved January 29, 2009 from . Knox, D. , Zusman, M. , & DeCuzzi, A. (2004, Dec. 1). The effect of parental divorce on relationships with parents and romantic partners of college students. College Student Journal, 38 (4). Retrieved January 29, 2009, from ERIC database. Krohn, F. , & Bogan, Z. (Dec 2001). The effects absent fathers have on female development and college attendance.
College Student Journal, 35(4), 598. Retrieved February 4, 2009 from Academic Search Premier. Joseph, M. L. , & Joseph, W. D. (1979). Research fundamentals in home economics. Redondo , CA: Plycon Press. Nielsen, L. (2007, March 1). College daughters’ relationships with their fathers: A 15 year study. College Student Journal, 41(1), 112-121. Retrieved January 29, 2009, from ERIC database. Norment, L. , & Chappell, K. (Jun 2003). Parenting: How parents influence the way sons and daughters view their dates, spouses and the world. Ebony, 58(8), 35.
Retrieved February 3, 2009 from ProQuest. Ognibene, E. R. (1994, Feb 28). Women and their fathers: The sexual and romantic impact of the first man in your life by Victoria Secunda. Journal of Men’s Studies, 2(3), 287. Perkins, R. M. (2001, December). The father-daughter relationship: Familial interactions that impact a daughter’s style of life. College Student Journal, 35(4), 616. Retrieved February 4, 2009 from ERIC database. Roper Poll (2004). Dads talk about their daughters. NY: United Business Media. Updegraff, K. A. , McHale, S. M. , Crouter, A. C. & Kupanoff, K. (2001, Aug. ). Parents’ involvement in adolescents’ peer relationships: A comparison of mothers’ and father’s roles. Journal of Marriage and Family 63(3), 655-668. Retrieved February 4, 2009 from ProQuest database. Snarey, John (1993), How Fathers Care for the Next Generation: A Four Decade Study (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), p. 35-36. Popenoe, David (1996), Life Without Father (New York: The Free Press,), p. 163. Upchurch, Ray, Drayton, Thomas (2007), Daddy Hunger; A Message of Redemption, Hope, and Love, A Ray Upchruch Production.
Cite this Growing Up Fatherless
Growing Up Fatherless. (2016, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/growing-up-fatherless/