THE BLOG
06/19/2011 02:05 pm ET | Updated Aug 19, 2011

Daughters, Self-Worth, and Dads

"Daughters see their self-worth in their fathers' eyes."

So wrote an anonymous author from the 1920's. While not discounting a mother's strong influence, I find that statement to be completely true. Women become who they are because of how their fathers treated them and the women around them. They are healthy in mind and spirit and that translates to overall physical health. A good relationship with Dad is beneficial in all ways, present and future.

Young girls seek male approval for what they do just as boys seek the approval of the women in their lives. Watching daughters interact with their dads, you will see a special bond. If a girl has a good relationship with her father, it can be the most important and influential one of her life. If Dad says she's intelligent, she is, if he thinks she's great and fearless in sports, she is; if Dad says that there's nothing you can't accomplish, there isn't. The praise and guidance girls receive from a strong, positive father stays with them for life.

Educational research has shown that girls who have solid relationships with their fathers score higher in subjects such as advanced math and science. Their academic confidence level is high. They are encouraged to excel and they do. Women who have gone on to high ranking jobs in business, academia, law, and medicine cite their fathers as having been positive, nurturing mentors.

Being encouraged to participate in sports is another way fathers help their daughters. Besides the obvious health benefits of physical activity, dads who routinely play some of type of sport with their daughters, and who attend their sporting events, give them an assertive edge. This edge becomes evident not only in sports but in all areas of their lives. They are unafraid to speak up because they have been taught that their opinions have merit. This translates well in the competitive job market. In an independent poll of female executives on to what or to whom they attribute their success, more than 95% stated that they had strong male figures in their formative years.

Girls learn self-worth and self-esteem from Dad. They observe and learn how men and women interact in relationships. If they see that a relationship contains respect and love, then they will seek those qualities in their own relationships. How their fathers treat the women in their lives has a tremendous impact on a young girl; they see women as having value and strength.

The role of the father has undergone changes in the past twenty years. Men have taken a more hands-on approach to fatherhood and this is a good thing. Girls, as well as boys, will benefit.

Little girls become strong, competent women by having a dad who is encouraging, compassionate, and loving. They do see themselves in their fathers' eyes and draw an incredible amount of strength from the pride and acceptance they see reflected there.

My dad told me there was nothing I couldn't accomplish; that all I had to do was try my hardest. I believed him then and I believe him now. Thanks Dad!

To read more from Kristen Houghton, peruse her articles at KristenHoughton.com and visit her Keys to Happiness blog. You may email her at kch@kristenhoughton.com. Unhappy? Read the book critics call "a book of sane and savvy advice for all", "And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First."

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