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Daughters and Dad's Approval

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by Archived_Member16, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    Jan 7, 2005
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    June 18, 2011

    Daughters and Dad's Approval


    It's no secret that the past few decades have transformed traditional gender relationships. Both men and women are operating by a whole new set of rules.

    Given the depth of the change, you might expect a dramatic alteration in one of the most fundamental male-female relationships: the one between dads and daughters.

    In my research into the lives of some 75 high-achieving, clearly independent women, I knew that I would find a powerful connection between them and the first men in their lives. Many other studies have confirmed it. What surprised me was how deep (and surprisingly traditional) the bond is, how powerful it remains throughout their lives, and how resilient it can be—even when a father has caused it grievous harm.

    Though gender relationships have changed dramatically in modern times, the father-daughter bond remains surprisingly traditional.

    There is, of course, the force of history here. It has always been the father's job to protect the daughter until she is ready to be handed off to the protection of another man. Though time has softened the transaction—for one thing, women have long had a say in the matter—the basic concept has remained the same.

    It has run headlong, however, into the paradigm-rattling change in female possibility over the past several generations. In the halls of virtually all professional schools, the number of women now equals or surpasses the number of men. New Census figures show that working women are, on the whole, better educated than working men. And new female managers are being hired at the same rate as males.

    In families with children, more than 70% depend on two incomes. Some 40% of mothers work full time. In one in three couples, the wife brings home more than the husband. Women are starting their own businesses at twice the rate of men.

    A power structure that has held since the days when men hunted and women gathered is changing before our eyes. But it has not affected all male-female relationships the same way. I assumed that daughters would exert the same independence in their own families as in other areas of their lives, but I found the opposite.

    No matter how successful their careers, how happy their marriages, or how fulfilling their lives, women told me that their happiness passed through a filter of their fathers' reactions. Many told me that they tried to remove the filter and—much to their surprise—failed.

    We know that fathers play a key role in the development and choices of their daughters. But even for women whose fathers had been neglectful or abusive, I found a hunger for approval. They wanted a warm relationship with men who did not deserve any relationship at all.

    Part of this need takes form early in life—when a father is a girl's portal to the world of men. I call fathers a girl's GPS—gender positioning system. It's how women begin to orient themselves in a confusing and (especially of late) fluid landscape of gender expectations.

    Absent that GPS, many women find themselves adrift. Mallory, a 34-year-old chiropractor who described a cold and disinterested father, still has trouble dealing with the attention she gets from men. She said, "I don't feel I know how to flirt very well or engage with men very well." Would that be different if her relationship with her father had been different? She thinks so.

    Nontraditional families are gaining acceptance everywhere, from TV sitcoms to our own neighborhoods. But even in such families that are successful in every other respect, I found that the absence of a father during a girl's formative years resonates into adulthood.

    Abigail is a good example. A young, first-time mother, she remembers her physician father as prone to severe mood swings and frightening behavior. While separating from her mother, he made a "statement" by dragging furniture from the house to the front lawn and setting it on fire. He told her at age 8 that the only reason he married in the first place was because her mother was pregnant with Abigail—and that he never really wanted her. Yet she remembers loving him even as she feared him, and she credits him with her determination, athleticism and love of the outdoors.

    Good father, bad father, indifferent father, absent father: In my work with the women whose stories form the heart of my book, I encountered them all. The stories are as different as the women themselves. But I found one thing time and again: Our fathers are a potent and enduring part of ourselves.

    —Ms. Drexler is a professor of psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College and the author of "Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers and the Changing American Family."

    Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

    Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303823104576391452872513430.html

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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    1947-2014 (Archived)
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    Very important! Thanks for posting this.
  4. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    Oct 6, 2006
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    I wonder how this translates to India where daughters are generally unwanted? :confusedkudi:
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  5. Annie

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    Jun 12, 2011
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    I don't know if it is because I have a female perspective, but it seems to me that we humans are hard-wired to crave our parents' approval at any age, whether it is possible to get it or not, and whether we should really care about it or not.

    I'm curious to hear from a few men - do men feel the same way about their mother's approval / closeness?
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  6. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    Jan 31, 2011
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    Absolutely, I always considered myself my fathers son, as physically we look extremely alike, in fact we generally get mistaken for brothers as my father still looks youthful and I do not!

    Over the years, I have noticed that mentally, I have more in common with my mother. My father can be quite pragmatic and focused, whereas my mother is more passionate and spiritual. As I have got older, yes, the desire to have my parents blessing and approval has increased to the point where words of praise can uplift me hugely, and words of criticism can knock the wind out of my sails. There is no other person in the world that can lift you like kind words of love from your own mother, I think my mother is a hugely gifted in the capacity for giving love, no matter what I have put her through, she has never ever stopped loving me.

    In my youth I wanted to give them a son with an indian wife, kids, big house,the obligatory mercedes s class, and instead I gave them a welsh wife, a 6ft stepson, a modest house full of animals and the 11 year old ford, however things change, My mother wants for nothing more than for me to feel the grace of the creator, and to share her favourite shabads with me, listen to this, she would say, isn't it beautiful, and she would sit with eyes closed, murmuring words and in a trance of her own, but its her smile that said it all, enigmatic, like the mona lisa,

    Part of the joy of finding myself through sikhi is being able to share more of these experiences with my mother, being able to bond with her, to do simran together (although at this stage I am still not big on simran).

    Later this year I hope to go to Amritsar, with my wife and mother, to stay in the Gurdwara, and to be honest, the thought fills me with much excitement, and is something I am looking forward to hugely, if only that my mother can be proud of me for finding something more worthy to devote myself to other than a pleasing outer shell.
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