There's no downplaying the role of a father in his daughter's life. He is her first introduction to masculinity, a role model, and the measuring stick for all other men in her life. And although the father-daughter relationship should be one of trust, fun, adventures, and mutual respect, in some cases, it isn't. The stereotypical overprotective father is, strangely enough, celebrated more often than not. But there are many ways overprotective dads hurt their daughters instead of help them.
Although social media posts about fathers "doing what they gotta do" to protect their daughters go viral, and even hilarious TV commercials promote dads who either don't trust their daughters or their dates, there isn't much out there about the negative effects this widely accepted "over bearing father stereotype" will have on daughters.
As a mother of two little girls, I'm writing this piece with extreme caution — my desire to protect my daughters is carefully weighed against my desire to raise strong young women. As the daughter of a father who wasn't overprotective but still did his best to teach me how to stand up for myself, I'm writing this with a thankful heart. I certainly understand the desire to protect our children from harm, a desire that fathers feel just as strongly. But I also understand from a daughter's point of view, and the natural downsides of a father who steps over the bounds of protecting to over protecting.
Read on to see some ways overprotective father than harm their daughters.
1. They Don't Give Their Daughters A Chance To Be Brave
Overprotective dads essentially send the message that they don't trust their daughters to make their own decisions, be it in regards to who she dates, or anything else. Not giving a daughter a chance to take risks, like trying out for a new sport that scares her, or having a hard conversation with a friend, and doing all of the "dirty work" for her, only causes her to grow up without important risk taking qualities.
2. They Don't Allow Them To Make Mistakes (Or Learn From Them)
As a parent, one of the scariest thoughts is of your child getting hurt. The notion of trying to protect your daughter from any harm is natural, and to a certain extent, should be part of a healthy parent/child relationship. But at a certain point, enough is enough. An article from The Atlantic explained how present, not overly protective fathers "tend to encourage children to take risks, while at the same time ensuring the latter's safety and security" which leads to higher confidence levels for the child.
3. Their Daughters Rebel More Often
Though this definitely isn't restricted to girls only, having an overprotective father (or mother, too), generally tends to have the opposite effect the parent was hoping for. Although they're trying to protect and shelter their child, when the child eventually gets the chance at rebelling, she'll probably take it.
4. Their Daughters May Have Sex Earlier
Although absent fathers are also cited as increasing the risk for unsafe sex and teen pregnancy, overprotective ones, oddly enough, have the same effect. . Research from Scientific American shows, though, that a dad's effort to keep their daughter away from men has the reverse effect and causes daughters to have sex earlier than they would have if they'd had an open conversation about how to have healthy relationships and choose respectful guys.
5. They Teach Them That They Need A Man To Protect Them
Growing up with an overprotective father sends the message that a girl is incapable of protecting herself; that even when she's older, she'll still need a man to guide her and tell her what to do. Conversely, fathers who are present and actively involved, but not over bearing, will teach their daughters that they don't need a man and that they're perfectly capable of standing up for themselves.
6. They Set A Poor Example Of Masculinity
Girls naturally will depend on their father to set their view of masculinity. Overprotective fathers set an unbalanced example of what it means to be a man. Although masculinity is much more than just protecting or restraining, when this is the main quality a father exudes, it will be the one that his daughter remembers the most.