Dare to Ask: How much time should dads spend with
By Phillip Milano
I'm curious what women think about their relationship with their fathers
while growing up, specifically how much time you needed to see them. Would
weekends and a kiss at night have been enough for you?
Nick, 37, Australia
No! A girl learns what she wants out of a man from her dad. My dad was often
on business from before school until evening, and when he did see me, he was
tired or stressed. On the flip side, if you do only see a child on the weekends,
you can't just be their "friend" ... they need a real father, not a buddy.
Anne, 49, Indianapolis
I still spend time with my dad. As the sole provider, we knew he was busy and
stressed, but it did not stop him from spending time with us on weekends. He put
us to bed at night, and I can still remember him taking the time to blow-dry my
hair just the way I wanted it, or later on as a teenager the conversations we
had. ... As a result of the closeness we have, I can talk to or come to my
parents with anything.
Serilda, 31, Jacksonville
Dad time is always good. I grew up in a happy, two-parent home but still
remember that my dad and I walked to Donutland every Saturday morning, where he
would drink coffee with a cherry doughnut and I got chocolate chip. We read the
newspaper together. I appreciate my dad and the pressures upon him more each
A.C., 24, Iowa City, Iowa
Dads and daughters, read this and get bonding:
Quality and quantity of time together are important.
"So much of imprinting of children goes on in day-to-day living," said family
therapist Beth Erickson, author of "Longing for Dad: Father Loss and Its
Impact." "If Dad's not there when she's disappointed over her first love, that's
hard to re-create once the tears have passed."
Girls often blame themselves for an absentee dad.
"Women are socialized that their success arena is in relationships," she
As a result, things can get screwy for a girl while dating or during
"They can carry this 'not good enough' mantle the rest of their lives, unless
a psychotherapist helps them correct it," Erickson said. "There's a sense of
unworthiness, no matter how many times someone tells you you're loved. ... In
extreme cases she'll prove herself unworthy by having affairs."
Girls learn how to relate to men by how they relate to their father. Dads
also provide encouragement.
"His job is to be a safe male for her to experiment with her femininity ...
to learn she can be admired by a man without it boiling down to sex," Erickson
said. "Dad also tells her, for example, if she's climbing a tree, to see how
high she can climb."
Dads: If you can't always be there because of a job or other reason, explain
"Make sure the kids know it doesn't mean you don't love them. In the
meantime, do things like leave Sticky notes that say 'I love you' or 'I'll miss
you today.' And try to be there when you are there. Play Scrabble, or sit and
talk with them. For girls, it can protect them from blaming themselves."
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Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
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