A new study gives dads high marks for attentiveness to their daughters singing to them, quickly responding to their cries and validating a range of emotions including sadness. “I had a smile on my face that somebody is digging that deep,” researcher said. “The father-daughter relationship is far and away the least studied dynamic in families.”

Having children is a life altering event regardless of sex and gender. The bond between a parent and their child is quite unique and incomparable to any other human connection. In most (but unfortunately, not all) cases, that bond is described as unconditional, the love between one another nearly unbreakable and absolute. How many times in your life, do you have the privilege to see a person move through all or most stages of development? And how many times are you given the responsibility to be a crucial part of that process?

Some men, men like my father, were blind and deaf to the challenges women face before my sister and I made an entrance to this world. His perception was limited to his perspective, a privileged position as a average chilean man living in a chilean society that showed such a troubling level of inequality, one that was shared by his wife and his sisters, and that was already considered too “progressive” by his mother and father.

Dad Are Emotional

Principal investigator Jennifer Mascaro of Emory University said the results were part of a larger study comparing brain function and hormonal changes from about 130 fathers and non-fathers in the Atlanta area. A surprise in the results, said Mascaro, was the “more analytical language” that dads use to speak with their young daughters, words that are linked to later academic success. Dads did not use this specific and complex language with their sons. Dads also entered the emotional zone more freely with their daughters. They used words like “cry”, “lonely”, “sad” and “tears” more often with their daughters than with their sons, Mascaro discovered.

“Most dads are trying to do the best they can and do all the things they can to help their kids succeed, but it’s important to understand how their interactions with their children might be subtly biased based on gender.”

Dads also more freely entered the emotional zone with their girls. They used words such as “cry,” “lonely,” “sad” and “tears” more often with their daughters than with their sons, Mascaro found.

“A man who is interacting with a daughter is interacting with ‘girl society,’ which is more emotionally literate, more driven by an inner life,” he said.

“For a man who was socialized to tamp it down, to repress emotions quite a bit, this is a new experience. A lot of dads raising daughters describe it as scary and liberating and unfamiliar. ‘But I get to sing!’?”



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