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Dan Welch
Colorado Department of Human Services
303.866.3808
Maggie Spain
The Bawmann Group
303.320.7790

January 19, 2011

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue: The Importance of Father/Daughter Relationships this Valentine's Day

Red roses and heart shaped candy boxes are already lining the shelves of retail stores across Colorado in preparation for Valentine’s Day. Many fathers are romantics at heart, investing time and money into making Valentine’s Day special for their significant others. But instead of investing in high price jewelry or an expensive night out, this year Colorado dads are encouraged to invest time and energy into their relationships with their daughters. A father who communicates and spends time with his little girl will make a lasting impact on her life, long after the roses and candy are gone.

“The effects of a father-full life for a daughter can last long into adulthood,” said Dan Welch, fatherhood and family specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “Girls with involved fathers are more stable emotionally and physically during adolescence, are less likely to participate in early sexual activity or experience teen pregnancy and often go on to have more satisfactory adult relationships. By making the commitment to communicate and spend time with their daughters, fathers can help ensure their personal and professional success later in life.”

For many fathers, understanding how to relate to their daughters can be a challenge. But like in any relationship, two important keys to success are listening and spending quality, uninterrupted time together. The National Center for Fathering provides the following tips fathers can use to help them listen and connect with their daughters.

Quality Time Together:

  • Take your daughter out for ice cream. Ask her questions about her favorite activities, dreams she has, her life at school and so on.
  • Block off two hours on your calendar and surprise your daughter with lunch, whether she's two or 20.
  • Make changes to your schedule and add activities that will foster stronger relationships with your daughter.
  • Make plans to stop by your daughter's school during the next week to gain a better understanding of her world.
  • Think, are you spending regular time with your daughter, just focusing on her? If not, what is keeping you from doing that? Are those other things really that important?
  • Have an informal talk with your daughter about relationships, letting her know how guys typically think and react in situations.
Actively Listen and Engage:
  • Practice really focusing on what your daughter is saying. When you're sure she's done talking, restate what she has said in your own words, to make sure you understand.
  • Actively give your daughter nonverbal feedback as you are listening: a nod, smile, look of surprise, raised eyebrows, etc.
  • With young girls, get down on their level so they know you're focused on them and you're ready to hear what they have to say.
  • Tell your daughter that you want to be the best dad you can be. Confess that you need her help and ask for her honest feedback.
  • Get your daughter’s feedback on what qualities make a good father.
  • Ask your daughter for her perceptions of you: "What do you think is most important to me?" "What am I afraid of?" "Do you know what my goals and dreams are?"
  • Tell your daughter that you love her. You cannot express this enough. She wants and needs to hear it!
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