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Raising Great Kids: What Does the Research Say? Part II

By: Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

If you read part one to this three-part blog series, you learned about what sons need from their Dads and what daughters need from their Moms. As you can imagine, both of these needs are different, and both Mom and Dad must work together to cover their bases in different ways. An open line of communication regarding meeting the needs of children together as a team is always recommended, and checking in with your children about this is also advisable. This blog post will discuss the importance of cognitive functioning, avoiding harsh criticism, and what a daughter needs from her Dad.

Encouraging Executive Functioning 

Modeling is an important part of positive parenting. Taking the “do as I say, not as I do” approach is not an effective way or firm foundation on which to teach the next generation about life skills. Women who maintained trusting, attached relationships with their children aided in the establishment of such executive control. Conversely, mothers who utilized antagonistic parenting practices, such as undermining or manipulation, had children who did not as readily display these behaviors.

Avoidance of Harsh Criticism 

Harsh criticism of a child predicts symptoms of oppositional defiance. Vocal criticism is linked to oppositional defiance in children, according to research. The bottom line is that harsh criticism generally is not helpful.  

What a Daughter Needs from Her Dad

I have always believed that the best thing a father can do for their daughter is to love their mother. This is where leading by example becomes most important. Famous surfer, Laird Hamilton, shared a sentiment about fathers and what they want for their daughters that has always been one of my favorites. It reads:

“1. Your love is precious. Don’t give it to someone undeserving.

  1. You can’t rescue a man; he has to be happy on his own before you can be happy together.
  2. And you’re not Cinderella, don’t think you need a man to rescue you.”

Permission to be a Child 

Parents should be wary of and steer clear of relying on their children to alleviate their psychological insecurities. In such cases as this, children can take on parental caregiving responsibilities and feel obligated to meet their parent’s own psychological needs, such as for validation. In this circumstance, boundaries are important to uphold so that parents do not burden their children with interpersonal struggles of their own.

Acceptance, Availability, and Positive Affect 

Studies that have compared a group of depressed adolescent girls with a never depressed cohort highlighted the importance of the father-daughter relationship. For those diagnosed with depression, they reported feeling significantly rejected or neglected by their father, or maintained a cold and detached relationship with him. Typically, fathers with depressed daughters fail to recognize the lack of warmth within the relationship. This is likely due to lack of or poor communication amidst the relationship in general.

Shared Physical Activity 

Daughters who engaged in physical activity experienced increases in social-emotional competency, decision-making skills, personal responsibility, and self-management skills. Shared physical activity leads to increased closeness, reliability, and permission for autonomy. Typically, when engaging in a shared activity, it makes more room for quality time to be spent together, which enhances the relationship between father and daughter, or within any relationship for that matter.

Check out part three of this three-part blog series to learn more about what it takes to raise great kids for both Mom and Dad contributing in different ways.


Flint, D. (2021). The Research on Raising Great Kids. Bowling Green State University.

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