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Statistically, it’s more likely for a dad with daughters to divorce than a dad with sons. I’m not certain why, but it probably has something to do with a father being able to identify more with his son (having been a boy himself) than with a daughter. Then again, sometimes mothers form such a tight bond with their girls they give the impression that dad is immaterial. He’s not, of course, but he may believe himself to be. He may tell himself, “She doesn’t need me. She’ll be just fine without me. Her mother knows what she needs and does a better job than I could.

Perhaps that’s why it’s so important for dads to have a better understanding of what they contribute to their daughter’s health and well-being. Girls with strong relationships with their fathers:    

  • Do better in mathematics.
  • Have stronger verbal skills.
  • Demonstrate increased curiosity in problem solving.
  • Have greater self-confidence.
  • Have fewer behavioral problems and demonstrate greater self-control.
  • Are less likely to become pregnant as a teen.

I have known many excellent single-parent mothers who do an exceptional job under difficult circumstances. To be raised by a single-parent mother is not to say a child will head down the wrong path or somehow be deficient in life. It is to say that statistically, it’s harder for this child to succeed. He or she will have more barriers to overcome. Father absence is damaging to both girls and boys. Father engagement is invaluable to successful outcomes for both as well.

I suppose some people think I’m passionate about father engagement because I grew up without a father, but they would be wrong. I had a great dad, an engaged dad, a dad who taught me many things and made it possible for me to do more than I imagined. My dad introduced me to a fishing pole, brought home my first library books, and taught me how to drive a stick shift. He required me to work boring, sweaty tasks on the farm and strongly discouraged fretting and complaining. He modeled service at home and in our community, even when it wasn’t convenient. He wasn’t perfect. No dad is! But he loved my mother (who had many strengths of her own) and together they were a formidable force in my life.

My passion for Good Dads is fueled by this stable foundation and by what I’ve observed after years of working with families where a father it not present. I’ve known children who yearned for nothing more than a father to talk to and spend time with. I’ve also listened to the stories of many dads who wanted to be with their child, but were limited in their access by a bitter ex-spouse, distance and/or work-related constraints. It seems to me that both dads and children hurt when they cannot be together.

I’m glad my dad knew how important he was to me, my sister and my brother. I’m thankful for all that he did to establish a solid foundation from which we could launch into the world. Out of this abundance, I’m hopeful Good Dads can inspire, encourage and support all dads to be the best they can be through greater engagement with their children. When we do this, we create a better world for us all.

About the Author

Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at [email protected].

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