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Relationship Advice: The Role Fathers Play in Women’s Relationships

Posted Jul 22 2008 8:23pm

Whether you realize it or not, fathers play a crucial role in their daughters’ future relationships with men in two ways. First, whether he was a great father or a not so great father, women tend to be drawn to men who are most like their father. If he was a not so great dad, that presents a problem. If he was a great dad, his daughter is truly blessed. Second, the example a woman’s father exemplified as she was growing up, showed her just what she can and should expect from a man. Again, if he was a not so great dad, she may expect less than she deserves. If he was a great father, more than likely she won’t settle for less than she deserves.

I'll use my story as an example. I grew up in a household with a father who was emotionally distant and secretive. During my childhood, even though my mother took me and my brother on many vacations, my father accompanied us on only one vacation trip. My father was an immigrant and prided himself in being different.  My father was a business owner and my mother was an elementary school principal,so because of schedule conflicts,we never ate dinner together as a family during the week. My father would make an effort to be at home with us on Sunday evenings to watch Bonanza,the popular western television show.  I remember being very uncomfortable that my dad was different.  For Valentine’s Day, my dad would buy me and my mom those huge gaudy heart-shaped boxes of candy but – he gave us the candy the dayafterValentine’s Day because the candy was being sold at the drug store 50% off or more. I was always mortified by this.

Looking back on my first marriage I see that I got married partially as an attempt to leave home and start a ‘normal’ family life of my own. I married two more times (three altogether) and in retrospect I know that each man that I married and many men that I dated were unavailable in some crucial way. My first husband was emotionally unavailable and borderline cruel. The second husband was unavailable on so many levels; his middle name was infidelity. The third husband was emotionally unavailable and secretive.  By continuously getting married, I kept looking for the normal, traditional family. What I didn’t realize is that even though “traditional” families may exist on the surface, there is not “normal” family. Every family has some type of dysfunction. What I should have realized and thank goodness, did eventually realize is that I continued to attract men with undesirable traits my father possessed. Then, I developed a penchant for men who were much older than I – by at least 20 years. I kept looking for my father. I learned a lot from these men; many of the things I learned from them should have been taught to me by my dad. These relationships were also wrought with pain because they were not my dad; they were relationship partners and a relationship partner does not make a good father figure (smile).


My father made his transition nearly five years ago and after he passed on, I was able to reflect upon the deep love he did have for me and my family. He showed love in his own special ways. Christmas morning in our house looked like a Toys ‘R Us store
he decorated our house from top to bottom and even piped Christmas music out of the attic for the entire neighborhood to enjoy! He made a big deal out of family birthday parties; very often I had two cakes – one he’d purchased and one my mom had purchased. I miss him; my entire family does. For all of us idiosyncrasies, we miss his presence – his essence. However, a girl needs more than Christmas traditions and birthday presents to know that she is valued by the first man in her life. She needs to be told that she is beautiful and loveable even when she does not have a romantic partner. She needs to be told she can be and do anything she wants and that she can be and do it successfully. She needs to be taught the ropes regarding dishonesty from men. By his living example, a woman will know a good man when she meets him. She will know because she lived with one as she grew up.

In summary, our fathers are the first experience we have of what it feels like to be loved by a man. This relationship is bound to affect our future dealings with men.


You are free to reprint this article as long as the article is copied in its entirety and the following byline is included in its entirety.

About Carmin Wharton

Carmin Wharton is a relationship coach, professional speaker, entrepreneur, and the author ofLessons Learned: While Looking for Love in All the Wrong Faces; a book which focuses on the pitfalls many women encounter while seeking a loving romantic relationship. Carmin uses personal, gritty, and sometimes heart-wrenching accounts of her relationships with men to show that each relationship teaches us a valuable life lesson.  Each failed relationship, no matter how badly it ended, leaves us with a gift. She asserts that everything that we need to know about anything is found in God’s Word – the Bible; applicable scripture, the ‘Lesson In-Depth’ and the relationship’s ‘Gift’ is included at the end of every chapter.

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