A majority of dads bond with their daughters through shared activities.

Dad and daughter bonds are linked to what a 2013 Baylor University study called ‘closeness in the doing.’

“This is,” Baylor affirmed, “the masculine style of building closeness.”

Mums tend to bond through the “feminine orientation of talking” — an observation the study described as “closeness in dialogue.”

Building Memories

Leaning on experiential data, Baylor noted,

“When asked what key experiences changed closeness in their relationships, fathers and daughters who were study participants mentioned events typical of those that help cement masculine friendships.”

Daughters who participated in the study cited ‘sports, working together and vacationing together’ as the primary areas they were able to build better bonds with their fathers.

Dads said the same thing.

Sports and activities like “church functions, household projects and teaching their daughters to drive” provided time together, which in turn “opened the lines of communication to talk about other subjects.”

The common-sense data encourages dads to do more shared activities with their daughters.

Public Programmes

Even the masculinity-shy, egg-shell walking government sees the potential and is backing initiatives based on the research.

For instance, the New South Wales Minister for Sport, Alister Henskens, has announced a continuation of the Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered Football [soccer] joint 5-12 primary school-aged program.

The NSW state government has partnered up with Football NSW, Northern NSW Football, and the University of Newcastle for the initiative.

An October 16 press release gave two main reasons for the shared activity program:

First, the program aims at helping “more girls to participate in sport, with the support of their dads. This program builds on the excitement around the FIFA Women’s World Cup, ushering the next generation of footballers [soccer players] into the game.”

Second, ‘research shows that fathers who are actively engaged with their daughters have a powerful influence on their health and development.’

A third reason, offered up by Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodges, held to the identity politics line.

Somewhat watering down the encouraging sign that government, and NGOs are serious about re-asserting the essential place a father has in the life of a child, the CEO stated the program’s goal was about achieving ‘gender parity’ in soccer.

Rather than foster fathering opportunities, the emphasis from Football NSW was on using dads to help the association ‘meet a 35 per cent female participation target by 2023.’

Despite the gender quotas, the program is still a win for the dad-and-daughter bond.

Bonding Time

The NSW Football program leans on studies like the one from Baylor, asserting that dads best nurture a bond with their daughters through a ‘closeness of doing.’

Shared activities, said the ABC in 2021, are ‘more important than people think.’

Quoting clinical psychologist Tamara Cavenett, they noted,

“The research shows that a strong father-daughter relationship is really good for self-esteem and self-worth. It models what a healthy and respectful relationship should look like for that daughter growing up.”

‘Community sport,” the psychologist added, “is a great way [to spend time together] because it’s often weekly, consistent, [and an area of shared interest]. You’re often chatting on the way to training, or you’re giving emotional support when there’s a loss or an injury.”

“If dads step up,” declared Cavenett, “they’re more likely to have a relationship with their child into adulthood.”

In other words, the bonds built through shared activities are more resilient to the stresses of life, loss, and the time lost to the task of earning a livelihood.

For a bond that will last a lifetime, dad participation, and dads inviting their kids to participate, is the take-home point.


Photo by Kampus Production.

About the Author: Rod Lampard

Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.

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