As we celebrated Father Day yesterday, it got me thinking about the role that fathers now play in our society with our children and in particular our daughters and how they can really become the most important role models to our little ladies, growing up in this ever changing world.
To add a bit of background to this I should talk briefly about my father, who I had a difficult relationship with over the years but when I was younger he was the person that introduced me to my sport and supported me in my swimming and triathlons. They are really happy memories and sport is still something that resonates so strongly with me today and very much has defined me as a person in terms of how I look at life, friends and work.
What was difficult later on was how badly my father dealt with my parents divorce and at an age when the relationship between a father and a daughter becomes quite a defining one, he wasn’t around and made the relationship very difficult. Which has taken me a long time to know how to deal with and in particularly the role of a father and his daughter. I was very fortunate to have an incredible step father and also having been with Ryan for almost 13 years now, a wonderful father in law, who both have allowed me to rebuild the incredibly important relationship that a young woman should and needs to have with a father figure.
When it comes to that male role model for our daughter, I hope Clara will one day understand and appreciate the incredible men she has in her life (and of course the women too but that is another blog for another day) and as I watch these wonderful fathers build their relationship with her and how she is going to hopefully have a really positive experience that will allow her to have a healthy and balanced view of men. Especially, as our society is changing so much and the balance and equality that women are fighting for now, hopefully by the time Clara gets into the working world, she won’t know half of what we are battling for now – whether that be the gender pay gap, balanced gender representation at Senior Management, Executive and on Boards or a more equal option and equal treatment around maternity leave and pay.
Therefore for men to become role models to our young daughters, what is it that they actually have to do to make this a reality?
- Firstly, it needs to start at home with a fair, loving and balanced relationship that is open and honest. In most cases a father is a daughters first love and can and will define the way she deals with men for the rest of her life. Therefor the impact this can create is huge and so important.
- The working world is changing, roles are becoming less defined by gender and yet many women are still stereotyped into roles from a very early age. Fathers can do so much in this area from a young age, to not exclude but rather include their daughters in the career path and job they do. This is a critical role to the development and choices of their daughters into the working world and providing them with a million more options and to not be afraid to challenge the norm.
- Allow the relationship to change, the one fathers have at the very beginning will change, especially as daughters grow up and develop relationships with other boys/men. Whether that be social or work related, still being a guiding and caring role model and someone she can turn to when those relationships become difficult.
- Men and women are different and we should embrace that and take the strengths from each and support them, which is why seeking guidance not only from a mother for a daughter, but also making the time as a father to have quality time with your daughter is so important. Keeping the lines of dialogue open and understanding the world they live in, like social media for example which is going to be such a big part of Clara’s life when she grows up is one area Ryan can just own.
- I know that Clara and I will fight, notoriously mothers and daughters do and I can already tell that she is a strong willed little individual and I am too. This is one area where I feel Ryan will be able to really support and act as a mediator and allow Clara to have a voice and feel like she is being heard and supported.
As I had a strained relationship with my father, it has made me so determined that Clara and Ryan will build their own special relationship that works for them. It has started from right at the beginning where Ryan has Clara on a Tuesday morning and they go swimming or to a soft play centre and just form a very special bond that I hope will guide her through her whole life.
Lauren – workingmummablog