She's your precious angel, a perfect piece of porcelain, crafted from your own miraculous DNA, and you're determined that nary a tiny crack will ever mar this rare treasure. At first glance, you may appear mild-mannered, but let even a hint of a threat-either physical or mental-appear in the same zip code as your baby girl, and you will let loose your inner Godzilla, reigning destruction down upon any and all who dare to come near her.
You're the Dad. You've seen it in your daughter's eyes, since she was a tiny baby. Oh, sure, she runs to Mom for the basic needs and for comfort, when she's sick. But, when fear is present, she turns to her Guardian Warrior, knowing that his size and strength and frightening temper will protect her from all that's bad in the world.
That's your job, right? Well, yes and no.
It's true that daughters and fathers have a unique relationship, at least partly based on the fact that dads are bigger and stronger than moms, and present greater possibilities for protection against danger.
Another factor, though, is the emotional connection daughters have with their mothers-in general, females tend to process emotions more quickly than males. A baby learns that Mother is more likely to understand emotional needs sooner than Father. As well, Mother offers comfort in the face of adversity, while Father tends to attack the source of the adversity, in an effort to remove it.
So, you're hard-wired to protect your daughter. And research shows that fathers are more protective of daughters, in general, than they are of sons. There's nothing wrong with you being her knight in shining armor, as long as you acknowledge it's not your only job, as her dad.
Daughters need fathers for lots of reasons, in their development, and the closer the emotional relationship between dad and daughter, the more well-rounded and successful she will be. You may be reluctant to do the kinds of things with her you'd do with a son-don't be. If you want to play catch, teach your girl to play with you. If you like to work on engines in your spare time, ask her to help you. Get to know her in the same ways you would a boy. Girls who have close father-daughter ties develop healthier relationships with men, as they grow older. They have fewer unwanted pregnancies and are less likely to be involved in abusive relationships.
When you realize that she may not be quite as fragile as you first imagined, let your “fatherly" instincts guide you, with your daughter. Dads teach different skills than Moms:
Problem-solving, which leads to higher grades in school and less intimidation in the work-place; Risk-taking (not necessarily the dangerous kind), which helps women pursue careers in non-traditional fields; Task-mastery-the ability to see a project through to the end, despite roadblocks. Daughters with active fathers tend to be more successful, self-confident and self-reliant.
So, go ahead, be her avenging angel, when you need to be. But if you take an active role in all parts of your daughter's life, don't be surprised if you raise a daughter who only needs you to be her Dad.
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