One of the things I often see when working as a Relationship and Dating coach, is the impact of parents on their children’s lives. Many of my clients come to me to for help with their love life/relationship, and part of it is working on the traumas and issues they have had during their childhood imprint. The more we dig in, the more we find out how much influence their parents have had on their life choices, patterns, behaviours, thinking and the person they involve with intimately.
I personally have experience this impact and was blown away when I first discovered the pattern of men I was attracted to. Let me first quickly share with you my story. I grew up in a family where my dad was quite abusive to mum and that really shaped how I perceived relationships in general. I remembered saying to myself, I would never be with someone like my dad. Yet, when I was 15, I got into a relationship with a young boy, who at the time I believed was the love of my life. We were madly in love and I was blinded by with his charm, masculinity and determination. I thought I was lucky to have met a man like him. Quickly after we got together, he showed his true skin, manipulative, controlling and abusive. I then 6 years in that relationship before I finally decided ‘Enough was enough’ and left. Even though I said to myself to never get involved with someone like my dad, somehow I unconsciously attracted the same type of men.
I know that I’m not the only who have experienced that impact. I was attracted to the ‘bad boys’ archetype because deep down I wanted to compensate for the relationship I didn’t have with my father. When I discovered my pattern, I was determined to break this pattern for good. I had to do a lot of personal healing and work and became more conscious of whom I choose to get into a relationship with. I’m so grateful to have met my husband and build loving family together. We have a gorgeous little daughter and both myself and my husband are very conscious about the impact our relationship will have on her hence I decided to write this article.
There are thousands and hundreds of women out there who are still seeking partners to compensate for the relationship they didn’t have with their fathers. The same is true for men who look for their partners that resemble their mothers. The truth is, unless you become consciously aware, you will continue (unconsciously of course) to chase men or women who resemble traits, personalities or look your parents possess. It makes sense, after all, parents are children’s role models when it comes to life and relationship perspectives. Children model from their parents relationship and how a father’s relationship is with his daughter greatly impacts on their personal relationships and love lives.
In this article let’s dive deep into the impacts of fathers on daughters and how you can help foster their growth, development and happiness.
Fathers are the first role models for relationships and play a key role in the psychological development of their daughters from the moment they are born. Children love their parents/caregivers unconditionally and accept the attachment and love that is (or is not!) given in return as normal. From here they learn how to express and receive love, what connection is and how to connect, how to handle feelings, disagreements and conflicts etc. So a woman’s early relationship with dad, who is usually the first male object of her love, shapes her conscious and unconscious perceptions of what she can expect and what is acceptable in a romantic partner. This will shape their view of the world and they will go through life (unconsciously) attract what is familiar to them growing up.
“The greatest impact on a woman’s romantic choices and ability to feel comfortable in her own sexuality is how her father related to her in childhood,” journalist Victoria Secunda wrote in “Women And Their Fathers: The Sexual and Romantic Impact of the First Man In Your Life.” A cheating father is no different. According to clinical psychologist Ana Nogales, author of “Parents Who Cheat: How Children and Adults are Affected When Their Parents Are Unfaithful,” 80 percent of adults who witnessed infidelity as a child said their father’s cheating affected the way they feel about love and relationships and 70 percent said they believe it impacted their ability to trust others.
How a father interacts with their mother teaches them what they will expect from men. For instance, when a father allows themselves to be emasculated by their wives, is afraid of confrontation and conflicts, he sends the message that she will go through life expecting men to do the same. When a father is present, loving and caring to their mother, he teaches her what a happy and healthy relationship is like.
He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
– Clarence Budington Kelland
Who you are as a parent, has a tremendous influence on your children. So here are a few tips on how to become the best dad for your daughter:
- Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with and marry someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Love your wife, make time to date her, take her on trips, and show your kids that she is a bigger priority than they are. By prioritizing, honoring and working on your relationship, you will set an example for your daughter.
- Always be there. Quality time doesn’t happen without quantity time. Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her. She needs her dad to be involved in her life at every stage. Don’t just sit idly by while she adds years to her life… add life to her years. Teach her to focus on moments and memories instead of things.
- Tell her she’s beautiful. Say it over and over again. Someday an animated movie or “beauty” magazine will try to convince her otherwise. Also complement her on her strengths, charisma, her cheekiness, personalities and intelligence so she grows up knowing she’s not just a pretty face.
- Tell her that she is loved, always. Tell her that she doesn’t need any external validation to feel enough or worthy. Teach her that happiness comes from within and she needs to make herself happy first. Let her know that she is complete and whole in her own unique ways and that she doesn’t need to change a thing.
5. Show your sensitive side. Show her that it is OK to not be strong all the time and vulnerability is also a strength. Allow her to know that showing emotions and feelings are OK and how to deal with them in a healthy and resourceful way.
- Accept and your flaws and weakness and embrace your setbacks. This gives her the permission to embrace her imperfections and see setbacks and failures are OK and part of life.
- When she comes to you for advice or solution, don’t jump straight in and offer solution or fix the problems, teach her your train of thoughts so she can come up with the solution herself, this way, she’ll have the confidence to tackle problems when they arise.
- Teach her how to communicate effectively, how to deal with arguments and conflicts resourcefully because it will equip her for work, life and relationships. This is especially when you are no longer with her mom, maintain a civilized relationship as much as possible. When you deal with your own emotions such as anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, make sure you don’t shut down your communication line, be as open and honest about where you are at because it teaches her how to not suppress her own emotions.
- Teach her to value herself and invest in her knowledge, growth and happiness. Teach her to value her happiness and putting herself first. Teach her to not compromise her own values and trust her own intuition. Teach her good judgment when it comes to people, have a good heart and be compassionate. Teach her to be present in her own life and with people. Teach her to love wholeheartedly even though she might experience heartbreaks and disappointment. Because that’s the only way she’ll experience true love.
- Continue to work on yourself and your issues. Each one of us carries around emotional baggage and negative patterns that we inherit from our parents or from past relationships. These baggage keeps piling on top of one another. Unless you are conscious about it and willing to work on these issues, you will unconsciously project them to your children. Become the man you want your children to end up with, focus on becoming the best version of yourself.
Children learn through modelling and by being the happiest version of you, you give her permission to SHINE and be the best version of herself.
Author, Speaker, Transformational Dating & Relationship Coach,
NLP Practitioner and Level 2 Meta Dynamics Consultant