Divorced Fathers and Their Daughters
By Yoralba Peguero
I am writing to address the plight of young girls whose fathers’ presence diminishes after their parents divorce. Following the divorce, a father’s relationship with his daughter often becomes more fragile or adversely affected than his relationship with his son.
Although most children tend to continue their relationship with their mother after the divorce occurs, a girl must be able to count on a stable relationship with her father in order to develop into a healthy woman.
As pointed out by research, “eighty percent of the daughters and sons in the United States only live with their fathers for a maximum of 10% to 15% of the time after their fathers divorce.
Nearly half do not spend time with their fathers on a monthly basis and 25% do not spend any time at all with him.
Only 5% to 7% live with their fathers for more than 25% to 30% of the year” (Kelley, 2007).
Furthermore, “among high school students, 60% said their relationships with their dad were not as close as they had been before the divorce, whereas 90% felt as close to their mom as ever” (Scott et al., 2007).
This research clearly demonstrates the need for father-daughter relationships to continue to thrive following divorce.
Daughters who do not have their fathers present in their lives are more likely to be affected in their academics leading to poor grades, drop out of high school and possibly attend or finish college. Following the divorce, the lack of a father-daughter bond can cause girls to have social emotional stress, psychological problems and depression.
Moreover, girls who do not maintain a relationship with their father are more likely to have health issues in the form of being overweight or extremely underweight.
Daughters who continue to enjoy a good relationship with their father after the divorce derive many benefits: they tend to be secure, trusting of others, and able to build strong interpersonal relationships.
It is critical for divorced fathers to actively continue to pursue and sustain strong relationships with their daughters.
After facing a divorce fathers may not know how to deal with the aftermath, and most particularly, how to nurture their relationship with their daughters. There is helpful literature that fathers can borrow from a local library or purchase at a bookstore, including Daddy Loves His Little Girl by John Carter Cash and Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets every Father Should Know, by Meg Meeker, M.D.
It has been determined that fathers who spend time with their daughters are able to develop meaningful, lifelong and loving relationships.
Some parents share responsibilities and this provides a useful way for fathers to strengthen their relationships with their daughters.
For instance, having daily phone conversations, perhaps in the evenings when they are not together can become a ritual.
Also, reading books with their daughters, showing interest and commitment to her education, and being present for their daughter’s activities will reap positive benefits for fathers and daughters, alike.