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“To be the father of a nation is a great honour, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy"

Nelson Mandela

For many years I was resentful towards my father and did not see him as a role model. Instead, I looked to luminaries like Nelson Mandela as a substitute father figure.

The picture above is one of my favourite images of Mr. Mandela. Images of him holding hands with Charlize Theron, supporting the weary head of Whitney Houston, and giving Naomi Campbell the most loving hug warmed my heart.


compiled by Elisabetta Franzoso

  1. Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

One of the ways a child’s self-esteem is formed is through continuous and cumulative validating messages and interactions that deliver approval and encouragement, such as “you are OK” and “you can do it”.

Fathers also help us develop self-confidence by serving as role models for what a self-assured individual acts like.

Our fathers give us a pattern to emulate until our own mannerisms and way of being are fully developed. It’s so important for a child to receive the message that they are important from their fathers. Whether this affirmation is given or not determines the value that the child will have for themselves in adulthood. Children who are told they are not important, through words, actions, or lack thereof, go on to prioritise the lives of others and forget about their own. They innately believe that they are not as important as everyone else and do not value themselves. As a daughter, this often leads us to attract men who make us feel less important or not worth fighting for.

2. Sexuality, Masculinity, Personal Identity

Freud’s work talked about the inextricable link between masculinity, sexuality, and the role of fathers in women’s life. These elements are entwined in a complex pattern of interaction with nature, family, and social expectations and norms. Social pressure and developing sexuality give fathers a major role in exemplifying masculinity and setting the standards of behaviour.

How fathers perceive themselves as men, how they interact with their wives or significant others, and how information on sexuality and being a man is conveyed to his children, are significant factors in how the child’s future adult life will unfold.

In a woman’s case, if our femininity was validated and we received healthy messages about sexuality, we often become more sensually expressive and authentic in adulthood. A father’s positive and healthy position on our physical and emotional maturing allows us to gain confidence about ourselves and therefore our sexuality.

3. Relationships & Marriage

Few people realise that marriage is one of the most challenging commitments that we make in our lives. Few people have acquired or decided to acquire the necessary skills to translate an initial romantic love into a successful, long-lasting marriage, in which the partners work together to surmount the inevitable problems that arise and grow in ever-deepening commitment and love.

Whether we’re happily married or miserably attached is often a reflection of the type of bond that our parents had nurtured. When we get married, we tend to fall into the patterns of behaviour that we observed and learned from our parents.

Our father is the first man that we as women know intimately. What he does or does not do around the house becomes imprinted in us as the template of a man or husband. Positive or negative, our father is the man setting the standard against which all other men will be measured.

4. Personal and Professional Achievement

How much importance our fathers placed on job security, monetary reward, professional prestige, or independence all factor into a child’s future career, decisions, and achievements, or lack thereof. If, for example, his career consumed most of his energy so that little time was left for his wife and children, the children might find themselves similarly struggling to balance family and work obligations in the future.

Alternatively, they might deliberately rebel and choose a life where there’s no opportunity for this conflict to arise. If we weren’t encouraged to pursue our career aspirations, we might go on to doubt the very skills and abilities that can lead us to follow our ambitions.

5. Being a Parent

There is no manual for becoming a father. Becoming a father is something we learn by integrating what we learn fatherhood to mean, in the way that it was acted out by our own fathers.

6. Values & Beliefs

The values and beliefs that we live by and the world view we develop, form and direct our lives. They determine our goals, influence our behaviour, shape our relationships, sustain us through hard times and determine our level of involvement in the community. Fathers who have close relationships with their children and demonstrate deep, moral behaviour, have a powerful influence on instilling our ethics and values. This helps us to develop an internal moral compass, our own inner sense of right and wrong that will guide us in our future decisions and actions.

(This list was compiled by Elisabetta Franzoso)

If you want to continue doing work on your relationship with your father, order my self-paced program, Healing the Father Daughter relationship.

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