Hate and mistrust are the children of blindness – William Watson
Father daughter relationships have important outcomes for daughters. Yet it tends to be the least studied. One can only speculate on the reasons why there is so little interest. Could research reveal that ‘unwanted’ fathers are important, and thus any inquiry could be detrimental in their attempted disposal in family courts? Too harsh a speculation perhaps. Although, it seems logical, that father daughter relationships would serve as a prototype for their familial and romantic relationships, which will have a profound impact on their quality of life.
One expansive research article titled, The Importance of Father Love: History and Contemporary Evidence. It was published by the American Psychological Association in 2000 and covers the otherwise widely ignored importance of a fathers role in their daughter’s life, “…daughters’ self-esteem [as adults] was best predicted by fathers’ physical affection (kisses and hugs)[as a child]…” Further that, a “Sons’ self-esteem, on the other hand, was best predicted by fathers’ sustained contact.” Fathers need to be involved, hugs and kisses over the phone is not meaningful contact, it is in the best interest of the children for a father to be substantively involved.
Yet father involvement is effectively thwarted by the Orwellian named ‘family courts’ ( for those unfamiliar with the novel 1984 the Ministry of Peace was responsible for war). According to a recent post on the National Parents Organization website, “[…] in the United States, 80% of the children of divorce spend only 10% – 15% of their time with their fathers, […]. Some 25% spend none at all.” For anyone involved in divorce or separation those numbers also hold no surprise. Nor is it surprising that hate, jealousy, selfishness and anger trump love. Machiavelli would blush at the way fathers are treated by ‘family’ courts as justice feigns fairness in its unconscious war against fathering. There is a Mother knows best mentality, and the court’s sacrifice children’s mental-health and future well-being – rather than take on a legion of vengeful, furious mothers. Bitter mothers are more than willing to unconsciously do psychological harm to their sons and daughters through alienation, in order to inflict pain on their former lovers. Family courts are seemingly duped into being willing participants in stripping fathers of their sociological if not their biological roles, in order to appease popular opinion, and not step out of line with old cultural constructs.
Nor is it surprising that a poor relationship between mother and father has a negative effect on daughters as young adults, in the above report it was noted that, “Daughters, on the other hand, felt much less close to their fathers but only slightly less close to their mothers. Thus, the authors concluded, the father–daughter tie tends to be especially vulnerable in the context of serious marital problems between parents, whereas the mother–daughter tie tends to be especially resilient.” None of this is shocking news given what we know about parental alienation and the bitterness and anger that feeds it.
Images are worth a 1000 words, a tired expression to be true. It seemed like a curiosity worth examining, namely, to look at the number of images of parenting – in Parenting magazine. In the January 2014, issue of Parenting magazine just over 75% of the parenting images showed a mother/child. The remaining images were evenly split at 12%, showing father/child, and 12% depicted the once-traditional family of father/mother/child. In the December 2013 issue of, Family Circle magazine the numbers were similar, 5% showed a father (a pair of work boots)/child image, and 33% showed the father/mother/child family, and 61% depicted a mother/child. It’s a meaningless comparison – aside from the obvious fact that men don’t read parenting magazines, and the advertising was clearly female oriented, (jewellery, beauty potions etc.). No surprise. Family Circle was founded in 1932, in an era of greater domestic stability than today. It was an era where women looked after children, and fathers provided for the family. From today’s perspective the titles of the two magazines are ‘accidentally Orwellian’ because a family is principally defined as “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.” Arguably, more appropriate titles for the above magazines, could be Mothering and Mommy Circle, as opposed to Parenting and Family Circle. We have a cultural construct of fathering as being removed, distant, remote and not as important to the lives of children as mothering.
I recently asked an Employment Service Advisor why the overwhelming majority of clients seeking work were male? She forced down a smile, and claimed that it was because, “mothers were at home looking after children.” Of course that doesn’t mean that parenting is a job, or a profession, because it isn’t – it’s a biological function. In this case it is a biological function that is subsidized by the state. Employment is defined as the provision of labour or a service in exchange for compensation, which means, in the instance above, that both parents were unemployed. The power of cultural constructs come from normative repetition, the words used, and the images viewed. They can’t and won’t be viewed from different perspectives without critical thinking, deconstruction, and observation. Fathering, like mothering is a biological function.