Your Father

Uplifting Father-Daughter Stories

Dads, I thought you might like to share some uplifting stories about famous “real life” daughters who gave their fathers the credit for their becoming such successful, well known women. With so many negative portrayals of father-daughter relationships on TV and in movies, we need to share more of these positive father-daughter stories with our daughters and step-daughters.

If your daughter enjoys music, let her know that Joan Baez, Selina, and Judy Collins were all “apples that didn’t fall far from the tree”. Baez’s father emigrated from Mexico, earned a doctorate from Stanford in physics, and became a Quaker and pacifist who quit his job in the defense industry. Judy Collins’ father, an Irishman from a musical farming family, became legally blind at the age of four. But he overcame his handicaps to start a dance band and radio show – and to teach his daughter to sing and play piano. Selena, (the famous Mexican American singer who was tragically murdered by an angry fan club member) learned to sing and play guitar from her dad when she was five. He eventually became her bus driver and manager of her band.

Moving from music to sports, has your daughter heard of Nancy Kerrigan who won the silver Olympic medal in skating in 1994? Her dad worked several jobs to pay for Nancy’s training as she was growing up and he did all of the housekeeping too because his wife was almost totally blind.

Or if your daughter is interested in women’s rights, does she know that Susan B. Anthony’s father was a progressive Quaker who believed in equality for men and women. When the school refused to teach his daughters math because they were girls, he started schooling them himself at home. Is it any wonder Susan grew up to fight for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery? The same is true of Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote against slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Her dad was a minister who publicly protested and preached against slavery while she was growing up.

If your daughter has never heard of any of these famous women, I’m sure she knows this name: Oprah. But does your daughter know that when Oprah was a teenager – very troubled, failing in school, and having had a child out of wedlock (who died) – she went to live with her father and stepmother. Oprah says it was her father who turned her life around. After she became rich and famous, she set up a scholarship fund at Tennessee State University in her father’s name to honor him.

Let’s do more positive story-telling as another way of strengthening father-daughter relationships.

©2010 Dr. Linda Nielsen

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It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. Pope John XXIII

Dr. Nielsen has been teaching, counseling, conducting research and writing about adolescents and father-daughter relationships since 1970. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and the recipient of the outstanding graduate's award in teacher education from the University of Tennessee in 1969, she taught and counseled high school students for several years. After earning a Master's Degree in Counseling and a Doctorate in Educational and Adolescent Psychology, she joined the faculty of Wake Forest University in 1974. Her grants and awards include the Outstanding Article Award in 1980 from the U.S. Center for Women Scholars and a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Association of University Women. For the past fifteen years she has focused primarily on father-daughter relationships with a special emphasis on divorced fathers and their daughters. Her work has been cited in the "Wall Street Journal" as well as in popular magzines such as "Cosmopolitan", and shared through television and radio interviews..

In 1991 she created her "Fathers & Daughters" course - the only college course in the country that focuses exclusively on father-daughter relationships. In addition to having written several dozen articles for journals such as the "Harvard Educational Review" and the "Journal of Divorce & Remarriage", Dr. Nielsen has written three books: How to Motivate Adolescents (Prentice Hall) and Adolescence: A Contemporary View (Harcourt Brace) which sold more than 60,000 copies and was adopted by hundreds of universities throughout the country and abroad between 1986-1996. Her third book, Embracing Your Father: Creating the Relationship You Want with Your Dad was published in April, 2004. www.wfu.edu/~nielsen or E-Mail

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