A father’s relationship with his daughter is the most important relationship that she will have in her life. It is, in my opinion, the basis and template for all the relationships that she will have with all the men in her life. Teachers, coaches, boyfriends, bosses, fathers-in-law, sons, and grandsons. What she knows from her relationship with her father is what she will think love is.
If her father is unkind and unforgiving, she may think that love is harsh.
If her father interrupts her when she speaks and never listens to her whole answer, she may think that love is impatient and hurried.
If her father is stingy with his compliments and gratuitous with his criticism, she will think that love means judging someone.
If her father raises his voice to her, and shouts her down, she could believe that love is intimidation and intimidating.
If her father ever calls her a name other than her own, especially when he is upset with her, she would have reason to think that loving someone can mean ridiculing them.
What Do You See In These Men?
If her father is any of these kinds of men, he may turn around one day and notice that all his daughter’s boyfriends and husbands were obnoxious and disrespectful jerks. When he says to her, “What did you ever see in those guys?” she will have every right to say, “You, Daddy.”
If her father is any of these kinds of men, when he visits his daughter at her office years from now and notices that her boss is a temperamental and fractious man, difficult to read and impossible to please, he may say, “Why do you work for this guy . . . ?” She may say, “He reminds me of you, Dad.”
If a father is any of these kinds of men, he may never even bother to notice that he is doing his daughter any harm at all. He may choose to remain blissfully ignorant of the impact his actions may be having.
But a father who limits the ways that love and joy and trust enter his young daughter’s heart limits the ways she can love later in her life. By providing her with kindess and respect and happiness when she is growing up, he will allow her the freedom to love when she is grown.
High Expectations & Encouragement
A father with high expectations of his daughter is very different from one who is impossible to please.
A father who is firm with his daughter is very different from one who is unkind or mean to her.
A father who encourages her dreams is very different from the father who is overly practical and analytical about her future.
A father who learns to trust his daughter’s instincts is very different from the man who is suspicious of her intuition and, in turn, her choices and friends.
A father with the ability to listen to his daughter when she wants to speak with him and the ability to understand why when she does not — is very different from the man who is intolerant of her changing moods and frustrated by her inconsistency.
Relationship with Dad = Relationships with Men
She will become accustomed to him, whoever her father is. His habits and nuances and subtleties in the way he loves her and treats her will be the basis of many of her relationships with men.
Her father is her first great love. Learning to love him and live with him will provide the foundation of how to love and live with all the men who will be in her life.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin,
a member of Penguin Group (USA).
This article was excepted with permission from the book:
Grow the Tree You Got: & 99 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Adolescents and Teenagers
by Tom Sturges.
A wise and inspiring guide to parenting through the extraordinary -- and at times tumultuous -- journey that is the adolescent and teenage years. In Grow the Tree You Got, Tom presents "golden rules" for raising happy, healthy, and compassionate adults. His mantra? It's impossible to show our children too much respect, but it's worth the effort to try.
About the Author
Tom Sturges is a mentor, teacher, coach, and volunteer, and the father of two sons. Many of the ideas in his first book, Parking Lot Rules, were nuanced and matured while he mentored a group of 32 at-risk children at a South Central Los Angeles public school. Founder of the Manhattan Beach, California, Unified School District’s inspiring Every Idea is a Good Idea GATE Program, he is an active volunteer with LA’s at-risk youth. When appointed a position as a mentor of a child from an inner city class, he was unable to pick just one child, excluding all the others, so he did the unthinkable: he asked to mentor all 37 children in the class. He continued to mentor them all the way through adolescence, an experience which inspired the award-winning documentary, Witness The Dream. Tom also created a learning program that develops creativity in children via the writing of lyrics, melodies and recording the finished songs. He teaches The Music Business Now at UCLA Extension, a course central to the UCLA-E Music Business Certificate Program. Tom Sturges is a golfer, and an inventor and the son of legendary writer & director Preston Sturges. He is also the President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.