How to Build a Magical Father-Daughter Relationship

A good father-daughter relationship positively affects the development of the child's self-concept, self-esteem, and future bonds. Do you know how to foster it?
How to Build a Magical Father-Daughter Relationship
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

The mother figure during childhood is often elevated and praised as the most influential and preponderant. And although mothers undoubtedly play a fundamental role in the development of children, fathers aren’t far behind. For a girl, her father is a solid point of reference, providing support and direction in her life. He’s the person she’ll look to when she needs support and solutions. For this reason, we want to encourage you to build a magical father-daughter relationship.

Especially during the first months and years of a baby’s life, fathers often feel displaced from the mother-child dyad. They’re unsure of their place, role, and function. This can be very relevant in the case of girls, as many men believe that, because they share the same gender as their mother, she’s the one who should exercise the main functions and with whom the little girl should relate more.

On the contrary, the presence, affection, and support of fathers are decisive for the correct development of their daughters.

Depending on this bond, girls will develop a positive or negative self-image of themselves as women, greater or lesser self-esteem, and healthy or damaging relationships in the future.

Even a father figure who’s present and emotionally available can reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as eating disorders. Therefore, it’s essential to take care of this relationship from the beginning.

How to build a good father-daughter relationship

The relationship between father and daughter will demand different actions at each moment of growth.

During the first months, it will focus mainly on basic care. But later on, it will give way to play and the demand for a more mature exchange during adolescence. In any case, the following guidelines will be helpful throughout the process.

A father reading a fairytale to his daughter.

Spend time with your child

Of course, the quality of the time you spend together is important, but the quantity is also important. We’re not saying that you should quit your job to be with your little one, as we know you have obligations. But it’s important that every day, you find a moment to share with her, that you dedicate your free time to her, and that you enjoy her.

Reading a bedtime story, asking her to help you prepare dinner, or dedicating Saturday afternoon to a fun family plan are small gestures that make a difference. Because for your daughter, knowing that her daddy chooses her as his best plan will make her feel valid and special.

Express your feelings openly

If you still believe that emotional expression is something exclusive to women, banish this idea from your head. Your little one needs to hear how much you love her, how proud you are of her, and how happy you are when you spend time with her. Don’t hold back your words or limit physical contact, because love is fundamental nourishment during childhood.

Give her hugs and kisses, let her snuggle next to you on the couch, say “I love you” every morning before school. You can even choose to write her a nice note and leave it as a surprise in her backpack, she’ll love finding it!

Listen to her and validate her emotions

Being a parent doesn’t always mean directing, controlling, and solving. Sometimes it’s just listening.

Pay attention when your daughter tells you about her day, even if she repeats the story for the third time. If she’s feeling sad or worried, instead of judging or criticizing her, listen to her and try to understand her emotions. Welcome them without judgment.

This way, you’ll show your child that she has a right to be angry and sad, and you’ll help her develop good emotional management. Many girls are forced to repress their emotions in order to fulfill the role of docile and good. Free your daughter from this burden.

Avoid overprotecting her

For you, your daughter will always be your little girl and you may tend to overprotect her unconsciously.

Even if you have the best intentions, it’s essential that you help her to stand up for herself and to progressively become an autonomous and determined person. Don’t do for her what she can do for herself. On the contrary, teach her and encourage her to try. You’ll be by her side if she stumbles.

Play a lot together to strengthen the father-daughter relationship

A father bowing to his daughter as she curtsies.

Play is the language of children and it’s their favorite activity in the world. For your daughter, it’s a real gift to spend your time playing with her. It doesn’t matter if you play dress-up, dolls, cars, or soccer, because, with all these activities, you can get to know your little one better and forge a deeper bond with her.

Remember to convey to her that there are no boys’ or girls’ games and that she can choose from all the possibilities.

Establish traditions together

Traditions mark our childhood in a positive way. It’s those moments that we repeat that give children stability and excitement while increasing their sense of belonging.

Creating a tradition with your daughter will make those moments stick in her memory for life, as a happy memory she can always come back to. For example, the time you make pancakes together for breakfast every Sunday, the family movie every Friday night, or the picnic on Saturday. The choice is yours!

Do fun activities

Spending time at home is fine, but coming up with a variety of fun activities is a great way to strengthen the father-daughter relationship. You can go play in the park, go camping, to the movies, or shopping. Also, visit some interesting museums, sign up for tennis lessons together, or go to the pool.

Choosing each other to share leisure time will be the sign that you’re not only father and daughter, but also friends and accomplices.

Take care of your relationship with her mother

You may think that your relationship with your daughter and her mother are independent and have nothing to do with each other. However, there’s little point in being loving, respectful, and attentive to your little girl if there’s only conflict or cold indifference between you and her mother.

Your daughter will learn from you what kind of man to look for and expect for herself, but she’ll do so by observing how you treat her mother.
Whether you’re a couple or not, always be respectful and conciliatory. Don’t let the child witness arguments or speak ill of her mother in front of her. If you’re still together, be affectionate, understanding, and tolerant. Remember that you’re setting an example of what love will be for her.

Make her feel valuable and capable

Finally, it’s important to note that in order to help build your child’s self-esteem, you must help her identify her strengths. Often, girls are only praised for their beauty or docility, but they also need to hear that they’re smart, funny, talented, courageous, and charismatic.

Experts have found that, as early as age six, girls consider their gender to be less intelligent than the opposite gender. Don’t help perpetuate this harmful stereotype.

Sentimientos hija y padre

The father-daughter relationship should be a safe haven

Ultimately, the magic of the father-daughter relationship is a safe haven, a place to turn to for support, understanding, comfort, and encouragement at any time in life.

As a father, building this haven will require you to invest time and affection, to give and offer reassurance, to learn to communicate, and, perhaps, to change some of the ideas you had about fatherhood. However, as a reward, you’ll see a confident and happy woman grow up, demonstrating the unbreakable bond created between the two of you.

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The contents of You Are Mom is for educational and informational purposes only. At no time do they replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. If in doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.