Daughters Too Benefit from Influence of Good Dads

Sunday, June 19, 2011

When Peggy Drexler's daughter went to work with her husband at his clothing retailer, she saw how it transformed her. In this Father's Day excerpt from her book "Our Fathers, Ourselves," Drexler raises questions about the influence fathers may have on their daughters.

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Too Soon for Conclusions

While it is too soon to draw conclusions about how the physical and psychological development of small fatherless rodents may apply to that of small fatherless human beings, there is ample evidence to anticipate a connection.

The more I thought about it, the more questions I had. Why do we take as gospel the notion that mother love can make or break a child's self-concept, self-esteem and psychological well-being while glossing over the father's contributions to these basic elements of personal development? And when we do acknowledge the importance of a father to his child, why do we almost always picture the child as a boy?

If, as common wisdom has it, a father provides his son with a model of virility, competency, power and strength, why does he not also do so for his daughter? And if he does provide a model of these qualities for his daughter, how does she, however unwittingly, adapt and assimilate these qualities to her own needs and into her own life as a girl and a woman?

This, then, was the question: If dads are showing their sons how to be strong and effective navigators of their lives, might they not be doing the same for their daughters?


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Reprinted from "Our Fathers, Ourselves" by Peggy Drexler. Copyright copyright 2011 by Peggy Drexler, Ph.D. By permission of Rodale, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.

Dr. Peggy Drexler is a research psychologist, an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and author of "Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family" (Rodale, May 2011). Follow Drexler on Twitter and Facebook and learn more about her at

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Buy the book:
Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family

Peggy Drexler

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