We’re a long way from the days when the law – and most judges – favored giving mothers the bulk of parenting time and responsibilities in divorce. Fathers now more frequently seek and receive something close to a 50-50 custody split.
When there’s a daughter involved, however, many people still believe they need their mother more than their father. That’s an especially common belief for girls who are nearing or in their adolescence. Sometimes dads believe that as well. If their soon-to-be-ex uses that argument to seek primary custody of their daughter, they may give in – believing it’s in her best interests.
Experts say, however, that fathers play a crucial role in girls’ lives. When a girl has a close, healthy relationship with her father, it can improve her mental health and self-confidence into adulthood. She’s more likely to have healthy romantic relationships as well as platonic and professional relationships with men.
A role model for how men should treat women
Fathers can play a big role in how girls see themselves. A dad who teases a daughter about her weight, how quickly (or slowly) she’s developing and other facets of her physical appearance can damage her own body image forever.
How she sees her father treat and talk about other women is also important. Having a dad who doesn’t berate her mother, even if the two aren’t friendly after divorce, can make a big difference in how she allows herself to be treated. Girls also notice how their dads talk about and treat other women.
Distance after divorce can be seen as abandonment
If a father gives away his right to be a continuing presence in his daughter’s life, she may see it as abandonment and betrayal. She may believe her father didn’t love her enough to fight for more time with her. Some mothers are only too happy to allow their daughters to believe that – or even that they’re partly responsible for the divorce.
Certainly, not all father-daughter relationships are good, and some are toxic. However, if you and your daughter have a good relationship, you have every right to continue that relationship after divorce. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges or that you should be afraid to say “no.” However, that’s part of parenting.
Don’t hesitate to seek the custody rights and responsibilities you and your child deserve. With sound legal guidance, you can effectively make your case.