If you’re a divorcing father with a daughter – particularly one who is nearing or already in her teens — you may be concerned about getting as much parenting time with her as you’d like. The importance of moms to daughters as they go through puberty and become young women seems to be proclaimed everywhere.
This can put dads at a disadvantage. That’s particularly true if their wife and the judge in their divorce also believe that.
If you can’t negotiate a custody agreement with your co-parent that is fair to you – and most importantly to your daughter – you may have to be prepared to make a case for the importance of fathers in their daughters’ lives (both now and in the future). You’ll also want to make that case specific to your relationship with your daughter.
Teaching them how they deserve to be treated
When girls regularly see their fathers treat women with respect (especially their mother, but all women), they are less likely to get into abusive relationships. It can improve their own level of self-respect and self-confidence.
A healthy body image
Having a father around who doesn’t criticize or tease them if they gain or lose weight, who doesn’t objectify women and who doesn’t say negative things about women’s appearance can help keep a girl from being unrealistically critical of her own appearance.
Academic, social and professional advantages
Studies have shown that daughters who have a close, healthy relationship with their fathers are more likely to do well academically and professionally. They have healthier relationships with men, not just in their romantic life but professionally and socially. They’re also less likely to suffer from substance abuse or behavioral or psychological issues.
This doesn’t mean giving your daughter everything she wants – which can be a big temptation if you don’t see her as much as you’d like or if you’re vying to be the “favorite” parent. Any healthy parent-child relationship requires setting and enforcing rules.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you should take a back seat to your child’s mother when it comes to parenting now that you’re no longer together. You have a right to work towards a custody agreement that is in your child’s best interests. Having experienced legal guidance can help.