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An 'Undistancing' PandemicProposal for Fathers and Daughters

By Linda Nielsen

The Covid-19 crisis presents a rare and much-needed opportunity to repair and strengthen father–daughter relationships. Like the virus, the impact of a distant, superficial, or estranged relationship with dad can range from mild to life-threatening for a daughter, including: leading to more troubled relationships with men and higher divorce rates, lower adult incomes and more poverty, more stress-related health problems, and higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, suicide, drug and alcohol problems, dating violence, teenage pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. But, unlike the coronavirus, there are effective ways to treat weak, troubled, or “unhealthy” father-daughter relationships.

Governor Andrew Cuomo alluded to this “treatment” in a news conference where he commented on a conversation he had with his 22-year-old daughter during quarantine:

We talked about things in depth that we didn't have time to talk about in the past, or we didn't have the courage or strength to talk about in the past—feelings I had, about mistakes I had made along the way that I wanted to express my regret and talk through with her.

But a daughter does not have to be in quarantine and a dad does not have to be governor to embrace and to benefit from this emotional “un-distancing” policy.

Having written about father-daughter relationships for three decades, I am reminded by this crisis that the weakest link in most father-daughter relationships is being unable or unwilling to talk openly, honestly, or comfortably about personal things—a problem of pandemic proportions from which even the wealthiest and most famous fathers and daughters are not immune. And although both parents’ relationships with sons and daughters are sometimes plagued by this weakness, the father-daughter relationship is the most vulnerable.

Moreover, a daughter is more likely than a son to suffer from clinical depression, anxiety disorders, and suicide, all of which are closely related to the quality of her relationship with her dad.


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Wonderfully done!

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