Fathers and Daughters
You can’t get a way from it. It’s everywhere.
From mainstream television news programs, to Blogs on the Internet,
talk radio, and magazines that you can’t help but notice at
the checkout counter at the grocery store. Our society seems overly
fascinated by the antics of young celebrities who are out of control.
Newsweek, in their Feb. 12 cover story, calls it “The Girls
Gone Bad Effect.” It’s enough to make parents cringe.
In Newsweek writers Kathleen Deveny and Raina Kelley asked some
good questions. Does the rise of the bad girl signal something
more profound, a coarsening of the culture and a devaluation of
sex, love and lasting commitment? Should parents be concerned
about the effect our racy popular culture may have on their kids
and the women they would like their daughters to become? The answers
are likely to lie in yet another question: where do our children
The good news, according to the article, is for the most part
our children are learning values at home - from attentive
parents, strong teachers, religious leaders and nice friends.
And statistical evidence indicates that teen pregnancy, drinking
and drug use are all down. But parents are still fighting an uphill
battle when it comes to countering harmful media messages and
the power of peer pressure. It’s a 24/7 job!
In March, Project SOS (Strengthening Our Students) hosted a Father
Daughter Dinner Date called “Dancing with your Star.”
They invited Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, and her father Bob
to come to Jacksonville to share their own personal testimony.
The Father Daughter Dinner Date was a great success. According
to Pam Mullarkey, Ph.D., founder of Project SOS, the program provided
both daughters and their male role models, whether it be their
father, uncle, stepfather or grandfather, the opportunity to hear
how unhealthy choices can negatively impact their lives. It gave
them the tools to begin fostering happy healthy relationships.
“This is a critical time in our country in the lives of
our young women for fathers to show that they care for the welfare
and well being of their daughters,” says Dr. Mullarkey.
And the more time dads and daughters spend together, the better.
It turns out that fathers can have as much or more impact on their
adolescent daughters’ lives as mothers, says Dr. Linda Nielsen
in the March Better Homes and Gardens article, “Stand by
Your Girl.” Dr. Nielsen is an adolescent psychologist and
professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, who teaches
a college course on father/daughter relationships.
“If dad is a supportive, trusting parent and counselor,
his daughter is more likely to develop more confidence about her
choices. She’ll also come to expect the same respect and
decency from her male friends that she gets from her father in
There are a number of resources that help parents parent. For
dads visit www.dadsanddaughters.org. The non-profit organization
Dads and Daughters offers free e-newsletters full of suggestions
for creating bonding time. The group also deals with broader issues,
rallying against images of dangerously skinny or sexually explicit
girls and gender stereotypes.
Project SOS is a local non-profit organization committed to assisting
our youth to make “Best Choices” in choosing to refrain
from pre-marital sex, drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships, violence
and suicide. Project SOS also provides parents with educational
materials and resources to help reduce high-risk behaviors. Visit
or call (904) 354-6883.
- Kathleen Bagg-Morgan, editor