Psychotherapist: ‘Studies show dads give girls most of their self-esteem before age 12’

Here are a few thoughts on fathers and daughters courtesy of psychotherapist and author, Dr. Mary Jo Rapini with a comment by Dr. Venus Nicolino thrown in for good measure (Toronto Sun, 6/16/09).

We know that children do better with involved fathers than without. That goes for both boys and girls. We also know that a teenaged girl’s sexual behavior tends to be more responsible if she has a present, involved dad. Rapini makes some other important points about the value of fathers to their daughters and about just how that comes about.

She emphasizes that fathers who pay attention to their daughters’ achievements, interests and characters tend to produce confident adults, whereas fathers who dwell on their daughters’ appearance tend to damage their self-esteem. A girl who grows up without a father tends to have a poorer self image than those with fathers who are active in their upbringing.

Studies show that dads give girls 90% of their self-esteem before the age of 12, she says. “What this means is that girls that grow up without a dad in the home, or one who abandoned them, are always going to be a little bit less confident and sure of themselves than peers who grow up with a dad in the home.”

Fathers also tend to exert a calming influence on girls because they’re able to stand outside the emotional storms that often surround mothers and daughters. It’s one of the many ways that father-presence adds a dimension that’s lacking in single-mother families.

None of this is earth-shaking, but it does serve to make an important point. For decades now feminism has trumpeted the notion that “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Women, according to this orthodoxy, are strong and men are unnecessary to their happiness and success. To that end they’ve championed the single-mother family and fought tooth and nail against every effort to ameliorate the radical inequalities of family court. Any initiative that seeks to enhance children’s connection to their fathers is reflexively opposed by NOW and other feminist organizations.

Now it turns out that the opposite is true. It turns out that, to be that strong, confident woman, it is precisely a man that she needs in her life growing up. The very thing girls need to grow up to become the feminist ideal is the very thing that feminist groups most adamantly oppose – a father in her life.

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