Media Advisory: Father’s Day: Wake Forest University experts available

Two Wake Forest University professors can talk about Father’s Day, the changing role of fathers, and the best ways for fathers and children to strengthen the bonds between them.

MOTHERS AND FATHERS AS BREADWINNERS—According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, women are the primary or sole breadwinners in four out of 10 households. As Father’s Day approaches, Andrew Smiler, author of “Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of Promiscuous Young Male Sexuality” (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest, can comment on this cultural shift.

Smiler, who studies men and masculinity, says: “Since the 1970s, we’ve been raising our kids with the idea that women can do anything, including having any career they want,” he says. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve gotten used to seeing women as CEOs, secretary of state, and even heads of state. According to Smiler, that shift has influenced men and their ideas about fatherhood. “Many men have begun to express a desire for greater connection to their fathers and, in turn, have sought to ‘do’ fatherhood differently for their kids,” he says. “They don’t want to be that emotionally distant dad whose conversations only last for three minutes.”

Men increasingly want to establish close relationships with their children, Smiler says.

Note: Smiler is available for TV interviews through Wed. (June 12) and then will be reachable by phone.

THE POSITIVE IMPACT DADS CAN HAVE ON DAUGHTERS—In three areas — work, relationships with men, and mental health — the quality of the father-daughter relationship often has a greater impact than a mother-daughter relationship, says Linda Nielsen, Wake Forest University professor and author of “Between Fathers & Daughters: Enriching and Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship” (Cumberland House, 2008). Nielsen offers practical advice for strengthening the father-daughter bond.

“Sadly, too many of us continue to downplay the importance of the father-daughter relationship in comparison to the mother-daughter relationship,” Nielsen said.  “We still too often treat dads, especially divorced dads, like the mom’s ‘sidekick’ or her ‘apprentice’ in parenting. The research is so overwhelming and so consistent in regard to the lifelong impact that a dad has on his daughter, and also the tremendous impact that daughters have on their fathers.” She explores the family dynamics that prevent fathers and daughters of all ages from having a more relaxed, more meaningful relationship.  She looks at some of the barriers to good relationships including issues related to money and work, negative beliefs about fathers, communication, divorce and remarriage. Nielsen’s research and advice have appeared in national news outlets such as NPR, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Seventeen, Woman’s Day and in a PBS documentary.


About Wake Forest University:
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at

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