You might think dads, by default, tend to be softer on their daughters compared with their sons but, unfortunately, that’s just not always the case.
In another post I touched on these son-daughter differences and you might conclude that if fathers tend to be mean to sons, then daughters should be spared.
In this post we’ll be exploring the sad truth that fathers could still be mean to their daughters.
What kind is this relationship? How do mean dads affect their daughters? How should they treat their daughters instead? And do girls marry someone just like their dads?
Why are dads so mean to their daughters?
1. These fathers are suffering from unresolved childhood trauma.
I’ve always believed that people who have the proclivity to cause others harm—physically or emotionally—most likely also suffered that in their childhood.
Even after these fathers have gone through some intervention (like therapy), their childhood trauma is a demon that always rears its ugly head somewhere. Sadly, this hugely influences the way they treat their daughters.
2. These fathers think being mean protects their daughters from all the horrible things dating brings about.
This is a pervasive sentiment most dads share. Of course they care about their daughters that way, but they miss out on the fact that their daughters can be raised in better ways and that not being hard on them is an option.
This kind of thinking has been championed by the media and by older folks that did not dare question the status quo.
And the truth is that when it comes to dating, fathers can deal with their daughters in much healthier ways, just like what normal and healthy adults do to each other.
3. These fathers want to feel a sense of power.
And they take it out on the (most) vulnerable ones. Men are by nature stronger than women and these toxic fathers exploit the situation.
These men may also be in a setup where they cannot necessarily assert their power outside the home.
For example, they could be working in customer support answering angry customers 99% of the time. Or they could be working for a mean boss as well, where they feel their self-worth is constantly being trampled on.
When they get home, they release all that pent-up hurt onto their poor daughters.
4. These fathers use meanness to mask their fears.
Similar to their dating woes, these men are generally fearful of the future.
They stay in their comfort zone at the expense of their relationship with their daughters.
For example, they are fearful of the consequences of trying to talk with them. They fear that they would lose all the “respect” that’s left in doing that.
They could also be fearful of their daughter’s growing autonomy.
In other words, showing a “tough” persona is simply all these fathers know.
5. These fathers lack empathy.
Empathy can be developed. It’s putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s what you learn from reading novels.
But for some reason, these fathers think that helping their daughters survive thirst, hunger, or the cold is merely enough. They won’t teach them how to thrive.
And they won’t understand that if they can’t empathize with them. They are blind to their daughter’s needs. Then they default to their “macho” image.
6. These fathers could not overcome gender disappointment. (They wanted a boy!)
Gender disappointment is a thing. I personally know of someone who didn’t stop bearing children until they had a boy.
Although gender disappointment typically fades around the time the baby is born, these mean fathers just would not let go of this disappointment-turned-blind-ego.
And as you can imagine, this brings all sorts of toxic behaviors and family dynamics well into the daughter’s adulthood.
What is a toxic father-daughter relationship?
A toxic father-daughter relationship is one in which the father has not imparted sound wisdom to his daughter, especially wisdom that comes from a traditional and positive masculine perspective. The father’s failure here usually results in a toxic father-daughter relationship.
You may think a grown-up daughter should also be responsible for the relationship, but we cannot deny that it’s the father’s (and generally both the parents’) responsibility right from the start to raise a daughter in truth.
The father should teach his daughter basic life skills to prepare herself for the future.
An emerging body of research shows that the father, specifically, has a huge role in this relationship.
Fathers, as it turns out, carry greater responsibility for teaching their daughters values such as persistence, assertiveness, and work ethic. Yes, fathers even do better than mothers in some areas like that, but that’s just the way it is. This is called the “father effect.”
Therefore, a lack of this kind of guidance from good enough fathers most likely sets up daughters into a confused, risky, and impulsive future.
How do mean fathers affect their daughters?
Mean fathers increase certain risks for their daughters. These risks may persist throughout these daughters’ lifetime.
For starters, children of distant fathers are more likely to drop out of school or end up in jail. They also tend to engage in sex at a young age. They’re less likely to land high-paying jobs and healthy adult relationships. Not only that, but they also tend to handle psychological problems worse.
Emphasis is placed on daughters’ sexual and romantic psychology. Daughters of distant fathers tend to grow more sexually promiscuous. They also tend to gravitate towards peers and friends who are sexually unrestrained as well.
These daughters also presume that since their fathers have been mean to them, shallow relationships are all good and so they easily opt for casual flings.
Studies even (surprisingly) suggest that fathers have more influence than mothers when it comes to their daughters’ relationships.
Daughters who’ve had a poor relationship with their dads also tend to become overly sensitive and overly reactive in the face of stress. They may also struggle with body issues and emotional eating.
How should fathers treat their daughters?
Fathers should always treat their daughters with respect, calm, levelheadedness, gentleness, rationality, and love. There’s no perfect in this world, but sticking to a few core values goes a long way. Owning up to their mistakes also strengthens the bond.
There’s just no point in being mean. Meanness is a sign of weakness. It’s easy to be weak and lazy. I simply cannot think of a good reason fathers should be mean, especially to their daughters.
Since fathers are men, they tend to become unapologetic when things go south and particularly when the word is out.
Thankfully, however, this mean and “macho” image fathers project as a species is slowly changing.
Whether the father feels he’s “powerless” in the workplace, he should always maintain a loving and diplomatic demeanor towards his daughter.
Do girls marry men like their fathers?
Subconsciously and to a certain extent, yes, girls tend to marry men who share similar traits with their fathers. Fathers have set standards for their daughters on how men should treat women, and these daughters have been taking them to heart since they were little.
Of course a lot of women later find out that they grew up with a mean and toxic father, but at that point they’ve already internalized so much about how their father has been treating them (or their mother).
In that case there’s a lot to unravel and process (with the help of, say, a therapist), but the subconscious learning, or the damage, has been done.
Even when these daughters finally heal from their mean fathers, there will be scars that will remind them of their past, and these will somehow influence the way they choose their life partners.
It’s not impossible to move on, but we can’t deny just how huge a father’s role is to a daughter.
- How Dads Affect Their Daughters into Adulthood. Institute for Family Studies.
- The Science Of Dad And The “Father Effect.” Fatherly.
- Why Good Men are Bad to Their Families. Fatherly.
Image Credits: Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash