How to Improve a Father-Daughter Relationship

Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

As a father, the relationship you have with your daughter is hugely important, and it will stay with her for the rest of her life, affecting and influencing future relationships. The way you behave towards others, particularly to women will form her expectations of how other men behave. By improving your relationship now and making a real effort to have a positive relationship in the future, not only will you have good times together and a strong bond, you will also be helping your daughter to build confidence in herself and to have an expectation of being treated properly by other men in her life.

Positive Female Relationships

The most important relationship that will influence your daughter is the one you have with her mom. Treat your partner with love and respect, value her opinions and show your daughter that you have an equal relationship. If you are not with your daughter's mom, or if you have relationship difficulties, you still need to show your daughter a positive male and female relationship. Writing for the Psych Central website, Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., recommends that in these circumstances, you should find something to respect or admire in your daughter's mom and should treat her with consideration. Even if your daughter’s mom does not do the same to you, your daughter will see that you treat her mother well and will appreciate the respect that you show her. Carry this attitude into dealing with all the women in your life. Hartwell-Walker warns against criticizing female colleagues in front of your daughter, or telling sexist jokes, for example, as your attitudes toward women will have an effect on the way your daughter views herself.

Shared Activities

However old you daughter is, it is important to spend some good quality time together. This can help to improve a relationship that is going through a tough time and to strengthen a positive relationship further. Researchers Elizabeth L. Barrett and Mark T. Morman of Baylor University conducted a study in which 43 fathers and 43 (unrelated) daughters were questioned about the closeness of their relationships and the turning points in those relationships as the daughters grew up. The study, published in "Human Communication," found that shared experiences helped dads to become closer to their daughters. Most popular with the fathers and daughters participating in the study were activities relating to sporting events. However, if your daughter is not into sports, then make an effort to be involved in whatever it is that she cares about -- whether this is dance, art, or music for example -- or simple things like walking the dog together or watching a movie.

Build Confidence

Speak to your daughter about school, about her friends and her interests. Ask questions and be interested. Tell her how proud you are of her achievements. Remember that girls now are often insecure about how they look and it can really help if you pay her an appropriate compliment. Hartwell-Walker states that compliments aren’t sexist if you are sincere and that a father should pay compliments to his sons as well as his daughters. Professor Linda Nielsen, commenting in Chicago Tribune article, "Father-Daughter Action Plan," says that a father’s compliments can have more weight than a mother’s can. If you make her feel loved and lovable, then she will expect the same from other men in her life.


If your daughter is young enough to still want a bedtime story – don’t leave this to her mom. This is a great way to spend time together, especially if you have been at work all day. It can provide an opportunity to chat about her day and yours, as well. This way you will know about each other’s lives and have a basis for communication. As your daughter gets older, she will spend more time with her peers and may be more reluctant to chat with you. Let her know you are there for her without being pushy and overbearing. If she comes to you to talk, put off whatever you are doing and take the opportunity to spend some time with her. Sometimes car journeys provide the best time to talk – it is a time when you are on your own together and few distractions exist.