For three decades, Linda Nielsen, an education professor at Wake Forest, has taught the only known college class in the U.S. devoted exclusively to father-daughter relationships and written five books on the topic. Her latest book, “Improving Father-Daughter Relationships: A Guide for Women and their Dads” is being released just in time for Father’s Day.
“A father prepares his daughter for the road, rather than preparing the road for his daughter,” says Linda Nielsen, a nationally recognized expert on father-daughter relationships.
Nielsen says research shows both parents are equally important and have an equal impact on their daughters, but “the overall effect of having a strong father-daughter relationship is it prepares the girl to become a teenager and a woman who is better able to deal with stress.”
Mothers, compared to dads, tend to prepare the road for the child, meaning that mom wants to overprotect you and take obstacles out of your way, Nielsen adds.
“We need our fathers, and we benefit from our fathers even when we’re much older and when he’s much older and approaching the last parts of his life. So, what I recommend to fathers and to daughters is to spend more time alone with each other.”
In this time of the pandemic, social distancing, and families that live too far to visit regularly, Nielsen says email, Zoom and FaceTime work just fine. “The key word is ‘alone.’ No mothers, no siblings, just one-on-one time to get to know each other by talking about things that are personal – giving the relationship real depth instead of staying on the surface where it’s comfortable, but not really meaningful.”
Nielsen is available to talk about improving the quality of father-daughter bonds that strengthen girls and women for lifelong success and offer suggestions for conversation starters with dad.