Protecting the Father-Daughter Relationship after Divorce
Most people are very aware that divorce can have a tremendous impact on children. The new reality created by divorce often creates a great deal of emotional turmoil and instability, feelings that children, in particular, are not generally equipped to handle well. Parents, of course, are always encouraged to pay close attention to the needs of their sons and daughters throughout the divorce process and beyond, but the relationship between a father and daughter may suffer the most. If left unaddressed, the impact can long-lasting, potentially affecting the daughter’s interpersonal relationships with males for the rest of her life.
According to family and relationship experts, a girl has a much better chance of growing into well-adjusted, self-confident woman if she shares a close bond with her father. Conversely, a damaged relationship between them can create serious self-esteem and trust issues for the daughter. In a divorce, professional indicate, the father-daughter bond is particularly vulnerable for several reasons:
- More time with mom: Girls may not get to spend as much quality time with their fathers due to the nature of most post-divorce parenting situations;
- “Intense, complicated” relationships: As girls reach early teen years, they often feel removed from their fathers, while the connections with their mothers may be too close, too involved, or too conflicted;
- Female influences: In many cases, a girls’ mother or step-mother may not fully recognize the importance of the father-daughter closeness, therefore, it may not be encouraged; and
- Lack of tools: Dads may not how to connect with their little—and no-so-little—girls, finding it difficult to choose activities that both enjoy, eventually leading to less time together.
Experts do realize that it is not usually “a lack of love that stops an estranged father from reconnecting with his child—it’s the fear of rejection.” With that in mind, fathers are encouraged to “court” their children to find common ground on which a new relationship can be built.
As a divorced father, you can very easily do a number of things to help establish the necessary bond, including:
- Express praise, and make efforts to show love and affection;
- Leave notes. Texts, emails, and postcards are simple and effective;
- Make special age-appropriate plans with your daughter;
- Ask questions and be willing to have open conversations just for the sake of talking together;
- Get to know her by becoming involved in her life and interests;
- Encourage her relationship with her mother. You are the dad; you not trying to replace anyone; and
- Be patient and persistent. Maintaining a relationship requires work but is definitely worth it.
The first step for many fathers is developing a divorce agreement or parenting plan that allows them to spend time with their daughters on a regular basis. For assistance with drafting such a plan, contact an experienced Geneva family law attorney. We are proud to help fathers protect not only their parental rights, but also the long-term best interests of their children. Call 630-232-9700 today to schedule an appointment at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates.