When I began research for my groundbreaking book about the impact of father absence on black women, one of the people I interviewed was Linda Nielsen, PhD, a professor of adolescent and educational psychology in the Department of Education at Wake Forest University. What fascinated me about her was that in the entire United States she taught the only college-level course on the relationship between fathers and daughters. It was clear to me that Nielsen understood the enormous impact of fathers on their daughters better than anyone. She also realized the importance of that relationship not just for individuals but also for the wholeness and healthiness of families and society.
Over the , I have followed her work as she took readers and society deeper into what I have called a special and sacred relationship. In the past, she has focused on how fathers and daughters can strengthen their bonds and helping others understand why we should care.
Now, in her new book, Improving Father-Daughter Relationships: A Guide for Women and Their Dads.
In this new book, Nielsen offers practical steps that can be taken to resolve conflict in the relationship while targeting areas where tension can and often does arise—money, romance, mothers, divorce, remarriage and age--sometimes preventing a bond or disrupting one.
She notes several self-defeating beliefs that could prevent readers from getting the most out of the book: “Dad should make the first move to fix the mess because he is older and he is the parent,” is one of those beliefs that could definitely get in the way.
What difference does age make, Nielsen asks. “The goal is to make yourself happier by finding solutions without getting bogged down in thinking about who should make the first move.”
Conversely, if readers are hoping to play the blame game, Improving Father-Daughter Relationships isn't for them, warns Nielsen. “If you are hoping this book will confirm that you are not to blame for the difficulties in your father-daughter relationship,” you may have the wrong publication. “How does blaming or shaming the other person get you what you want which is more joy and less stress between you two?” she asks.
Good question. There are others in this book packed with valuable information and insights. Nielsen also offers a four- step problem-solving approach that will “enable you to get to the root of the problem, instead of dealing over and over again with the fallout.”
The quizzes in the book provide opportunity for each—father and daughter—to reflect on what role they have played or are playing in their relationship, and how they could alter their behavior to enhance their interaction.
For the past 20 years, through Esther Productions Inc.’s Fatherless Daughter Reconciliation Project, I have worked with girls and women who were abandoned by the fathers after divorce or never knew their fathers because their parents never lived together or never married. Many of the issues discussed in Nielsen’s latest book and the guidance she provides can bring great relief to many girls and women with whom I have come in contact, particularly those seeking to reconcile with their fathers. Improving Father-Daughter Relationships: A Guide for Women and Their Dads is a necessary resource for me and my team at Esther Productions. Inc.
My only regret over the years I have been involved in the fatherhood movement is that I have never had the opportunity to work directly with Nielsen. As a fatherless woman and someone who understands the importance of the father-daughter relationship, I value her and her work tremendously, and recommend you purchase a copy of Improving Father-Daughter Relationships: A Guide for Women and Their Dads.