Celebrating a father-daughter relationship

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

As my father enjoys his birthday today, the occasion reminds me just how much he deserves to be celebrated for his love, humbleness, support and for the father-daughter relationship we share.

A girl’s father is one of the most influential people in her life, having a significant impact on her development into a strong, confident woman.

How a dad approaches life serves as an example for his daughter to build off of in her own life, even if she ultimately embraces a different view of the world.

According to some psychologists, what matters in a father-daughter relationship is that the dad seeks to live a life of integrity and honesty, avoiding hypocrisy and admitting his own shortcomings, so that his daughter has a realistic and positive example of how to deal with the world. Essentially, he should try to model a reflective approach to life’s big questions so that she can seek to do the same.

My father played a large role in my life as I was growing up, from when I was an infant and a toddler, then when I was a teenager and a young adult.

We live in a culture where fathers are equal partners in care giving, and from day one I am told my dad was hands-on with everything from changing diapers to reading bedtime stories. And that presence and effort was the beginning of a very important father-daughter relationship.

Later during those “hormonal” teenage girl years, my dad was still very involved in what was going on in my life, which helped foster a trusting relationship. He never failed to provide support as I learned more about who I was and what kind of person I wanted to become. And he continues to provide that dedicated support today.

Some of my favorite father-daughter moments with my dad fall into three categories — teaching me new skills, celebrating significant events and sharing new experiences together.

My dad taught me how to ride my first bicycle without training wheels, how to pick the best pumpkin from the patch, how to wait for the perfect pitch, how to tend to the backyard garden and grow hearty tomatoes and how to line up the perfect putt on the green.

He included me in Take Your Daughter to Work Day at his golf shop and was always in the crowd cheering me on and offering support at every award ceremony, honor society induction, symphonic concert and theatre performance.

My dad has always been a good sport and up for sharing new experiences, from trying my latest culinary creations, to navigating the streets of Washington, D.C. together, to riding roller coasters with me at the amusement park.

His involvement in my life has helped diminish insecurities and increase confidence in my abilities. He has done this through verbal encouragement, by being alert and sensitive to my feelings, by taking time to listen to my thoughts and by showing an active interest in my hobbies.

Interestingly, the type of men that women date and have long-term relationships with are also directly related to the kind of relationship a daughter has with her father. Seeing how my dad treats me, his wife and his mother with love and respect has influenced my opinions of men in a positive way by knowing what qualities to look for in a man.

Throughout all the stages of my life, my father’s presence and influence has shaped my self-esteem and self-image, and even my opinions of men.

So here’s to learning more lessons, attending more events and enjoying more experiences as our father-daughter relationship continues to grow. Happy birthday, Dad.