Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fathers, be good to your daughters

This is a post by Hännah Schellhase, NFI's Development Specialist

The secret heartache caused by broken families and father failure is frequently laid bare by the tabloids covering the lives of pop stars. Emptiness caused by divorce and absent or abusive fathers has been the catalyst for the ruin of many of Hollywood’s darlings.

John Mayer’s song “Daughters” won the 2005 Grammy for Song of the Year. The lyrics carry a rebuke to fathers for how they treat their daughters because of the profound influence a father’s actions have on the psyche of a daughter. A portion of the lyrics reads:

I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
But she's just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I've done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I'm starting to see
Maybe it's got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Oh, you see that skin?
It's the same she's been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she's left
Cleaning up the mess he made

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Mayer has captured the cyclical nightmare that is created when a girl is mistreated or abandoned by her father. “Daughters” describes the emotional confusion daughters feel when their fathers are absent or uninvolved, either physically or emotionally.

A woman’s definition of her self-worth and the nature of love is often formed by early impressions of her father’s relationship to both her and her mother. Without a healthy family framework to define these things for her, a girl is often left scrambling to piece together meaning for herself, and has to work through significant emotional barriers in order to commit to a loving relationship or a healthy lifestyle for herself.

Taylor Swift’s new song “Mine” captures this struggle perfectly—learning to trust and love is an incredibly difficult thing for a daughter to learn if her father hasn’t modeled these things well.

The tabloid gossip confirms this in its own typically crass fashion: Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and Chris Brown have all been made into public spectacles as the paparazzi followed their downward spirals.

Teen star Lindsay Lohan fell into drugs and alcohol and has ruined her career with courtroom scandals and immature behavior. Her mother is always at her side at court hearings—but where is her father? Michael Lohan spent Lindsay’s childhood years in and out of jail and in highly publicized affairs, finally divorcing her mother Dina in 2007. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but Lindsay’s first DUI was also that same year. Fathers, be good to your daughters.

Britney Spears’ meltdown between 2007 and 2008 was highly publicized by the tabloids, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when she was placed into the conservatorship of her father, James Spears. It was after James became involved that Britney seemed to dust herself off and become stable again. But perhaps if her parents’ marriage had been stable during her childhood, the scandal and psychotic behavior later could have been prevented. When her parents divorced in 2002, Britney told the gossip-mongers that it was “the best thing that ever happened to my family” and “when I was a baby, they argued.”

An involved father committed to a loving relationship with the mother can make all the difference for what sort of woman a girl becomes. "Fathers, be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do, girls become lovers who turn into mothers…"

R&B singer Chris Brown nearly ruined his career when his girlfriend, pop artist Rihanna, appeared in public with bruises in 2009. It turned out that Chris had beaten Rihanna several times during arguments, and he was later given a restraining order and five years of parole. Many fans were disgusted with his behavior—hitting a woman is despicable.

However, a father’s behavior is often shown to be a predictor of the behavior of his children, and Brown had spoken many times before the incident about how traumatized he had been by how his stepfather abused his mom. Brown grew up in a home where his mom was regularly beaten and verbally abused—and like most children, Brown later learned that it’s nearly impossible to break free from the cycle of "loving" like your family "loved."

Mayer’s song says “So fathers, be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do,” but sons learn how to treat women from their fathers—sons will love like their fathers do.

If more dads were dedicated to being involved, if more dads were careful with how they loved their daughters, there would be so much less heartbreak as children try to enter adulthood without any idea of what real commitment, unconditional love, or an unbroken family looks like. There would be less need for songs like P!nk’s “Perfect” or Bruno Mars' “Just the Way You Are”, as the women in these songs might have had the chance to understand their worth and beauty from the affirmations of a caring father. So fathers, be good to your daughters too.


  1. As men, so much of our views on women are skewed by our dominated patriarchal values, which shape so much of our conscious and unconscious thinking. In my most humble opinion, our thinking is manifest outwardly toward women in our society. It is manifested outwardly by the words we use when we talk to our spouses, female co-workers, female teachers, aunts and especially our daughters.

    As men, we have the ability to bring should wonderful healing and nurturing. First we must continue to show up and be a part of the life long process. Your daughters need you more than ever!

  2. This is very moving. I love it!


  3. A lovely post. Amen Amen

    Dads it starts with just being present.

    Obviously we have a generation or too many who have no idea of this.

    My daughters bio dad couldn't get his head out in the first few years. When she was 4 she started asking where her dad was. The state finally got a hold of him and pointed him in the right direction. Our daughter pays the price to this day.

    It has taken these last 11 years for their relationship to barely be where it should be. She is angrier and meaner than she could have been.

    Her first boyfriend broke up with her three times and she took him back. Hurt it wrapped in her definition of life and love.

    I am a great mom but I could have of course used help. Children need the balance of the two personalities that created them.

    I had a great dad. He was not as much a force in our home as he could have been. It has taken me 30 plus years to see this as a weakness. What I knew is that he was there. He loved me completely and wanted the best for me.

    He raised me he did not just got to work and come home to take up space. I have memories with him and so does my daughter.

  4. Wow, talk about perfect timing in posting our blogs regarding the same issue. A young girl's womanhood is grown out of fatherhood.

  5. Translation....all problems that children have are the fault of Dads.....ok....so the woman that vacated her marriage and made me a long-distance-Dad is not at fault.....The woman that ignores Court Orders and refuses to exchange my daughter for precious time with her Father is not at fault. I just need to "step-up".....This is typical of the one-sided conversations that occur on this subject. And we wonder why things only worsen!

    1. Although I do sort of agree with the article because it correctly reflects how badly my father's actions (or lack thereof) continue to hurt me, you have a really good point. I had an amazing and very attentive mother who I adore, and if it wasn't for her love I'd have a lot of issues right now. I think that instead of always encouraging fathers to "step up" and be loving, we should encourage all parents (male and female) to do so. I think because society is so used to men and fathers being the "bad ones", they don't realize that unstable and incapable mothers can do so much incredible damage to children and family units. I see it every day, where good fathers are torn from their children by unjust court systems and bitter, vindictive women. It's not right, even to do so to bad fathers without giving them a chance to get better and grow. The truth is, there are a lot of bad fathers AND mothers out there and they destroy families in equal measures.

      I'm sorry that your daughter doesn't get to see you so much, and that you can't be there for her when you want to be. I can tell that you love her very much and that you're a very good father. I hope you'll be able to work things out soon, and if not, that you're daughter realizes you're trying her best. It's really f***ed up that involved fathers get screwed over and brushed aside like that, and that. Like I said, I'm really sorry and I'll pray that things get better for you =).

      - Nina

  6. Good article.

    But I find it amuzing the author did not point out the last part off John Mayer's verse, "Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, So mothers, be good to your daughters too".
    In this country and many others many fathers want nothing more to be active and involved in their daughter's life but are kept out by a vindictive mother.
    While there are fathers out there who are not active in their childrens life, it's important to understand there are father's who are kept out of their childrens life by ex wife's and the family court system.
    The conversation of Fatherhood must include the conversation of access to the children. We have thousands, if not millions of mostly fathers acrossed the country who are fit parents but are denied time with their child.

  7. Dear NFI,

    There is a great game that makes it fun and easy for dads to spend quality time with their daughters. The game is called The COMMUNICATION Game for Dads and Daughters. The game has won numerous awards including Creative Child Magazine's "Game of the Year". It also received the "Teacher's Choice Awards for Family Games", "Mom's Choice Awards" and "NAPPA Honors Award".

    This is a great gift that girls of all ages can give to their father for Father's Day. The game can be purchased from Amazon or from www.mindamics.com


  9. “Just the Way You Are” is from Billy Joel. Bruno Mars = untalented copycat.

  10. I love how fathers are encouraged to remain a part of the daughters life. Now if only family courts could get that same thought pattern. Fathers are pushed away from their children and replaced with money, the family car, and whatever else the courts deem appropriate.

    I survived a divorce in which prior to finalization, I had more time with my kids. Now I am paying more and have less time with them. Their morther refused to allow me more time and the courts supported it.

    I call, text, and email daily in an attempt to remain a presence...but I can recite their outgoing voicemail message by heart. A father can do everythign within his power to remain, but the kids have to assume some responsibility in maintaining the relationship as well.

    Merely the humble opinion of...A Fatehr of two...and a Dad to none.


    My wife chose to walk and the Courts gave her custody and me visitaion. I asked for more time and she refused. Then she tells me that if I want more time with the kids to be a man and make the time.

    NOTHING will change to correct this injustice forced upon fathers, until the Family Court system is overhauled.

    Blue October's latest album 'Any Man in America' details the lead singers experience in US Family Courts. Two lyric in particular stand out...'Women run the courts, men pay the chips..."..."Pay the price but don't get to be the dad..." drive this point home.


We welcome many points of view and great discussion. However, please be aware that comments go through an approval process. The blog administrators reserve the right to not post or delete any comments that are not appropriate (ie: comments with obscene, explicit, sexist, racist or otherwise derogatory language), impolite (ie: comments containing personal attacks, insults or threats), dishonest (ie: potentially libelous comments), or are spam. Thanks for understanding!