Studies are showing us consistently that fathers are a very important part of their children’s lives. Having a father actively involved will help define their identity and their personality.

Dads teach their girls to be strong, and how to be safe. Through their relationship with their daughter they set her expectations of a relationship. What happens when a child is detached from those life defining experiences?

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He told me I looked hot and he wanted to get with me, I smiled… A boy was finally paying attention to me…… 

A girl with regular interactions with a dad understands a relationship of unconditional love. Regardless of spills, accidents, and mistakes as his daughter grows a dad’s love doesn’t waver for her and she learns that through repeated, regular interactions. She will learn that this type of relationship is not only possible but her standard as she grows older. She has her own definition of what a good relationship is and need not seek other’s definition.

However, in absence of her own internal standard she will seek outward for definitions. Unfortunately there are many people who will be more than happy to share their definition of relationships and they may be very cruel to her to meet their own needs.

If I called him to talk to him between every class he wouldn’t be mad with me…. He told me that good girls only spent time with their boyfriends, I lost my friends…. I didn’t know that this wasn’t normal… 

Motherhood becomes much more demanding when one parent has all the responsibility of the household. Girls in these homes get less attention than if they were in a two family home resulting in feelings of being cheated or having experienced a loss. Both of these feelings may lead to feelings of abandonment and loneliness interfering with a child’s potential to trust and want relationships. Alternatively, they may seek out a relationship (any relationship) that will fill that void and greatly lower their standards to fit the bill.

He told me that he was smarter than me so he should make decisions for us…. 

My dad left me when I was three, and I didn’t want to make anyone else leave… 

Being mom in a single parented home does not exclude her from the intense emotions and potential rebellion of her teenage daughter. In a two parent home there may be a shared responsibility of the parenting so if a teen is angry with mom then dad may be able to step in while the mom may allows the space the teen needs. This is not a luxury in a single parent home which means the teen may turn to outside influences.

He told me condoms took away from the feeling and he didn’t want to use them…. 

I knew better but I if I said no he might leave and he’s all I had…. 

We know that having positive influences from both parents gives our children the best potential for positive self esteem, self confidence, resilience, and more natural supports. Having that parenting partner, even a co parent partner provides her with more safe havens. As we understand as adults having safe havens and supports is critical to our well being.

In six months I will graduate from my outreach High school. My baby girl is eight months old and I’ve taken courses on Healthy Relationships through the High School. I know what I went through was unhealthy and I’m not with my boyfriend anymore. My mom tried to warn me but I thought I knew more than her, I wish I had listened. She’s does so much for me and I don’t deserve it.

My baby sees her dad every weekend and I went the first few times to see if he knew what he was doing. His mom helps him lots but he’s way nicer to his daughter than he was to me. Maybe he’s learning stuff too! I told him that I wanted her to be treated nice by everyone and we had to teach her what that looked like.


About Colleen Rice

Colleen RiceA contributor to coParenter, Colleen Rice is a coParenting Consultant from Alberta, Canada. She keeps busy with her full time job as a Supervisor for a Family Intervention Program, and owner of her own Divorce Support Company; Family Nexus inc. Colleen is a wife and mother to three, two of who she coParents with their father. Through career in Child Protection and personal experiences she has seen firsthand the detrimental effects of divorce on children. Colleen has developed programming to educate parents on how to co-parent in healthy ways so that children can grow healthy and have best outcomes. You can learn more about Healthy coParenting at, on Twitter @mycoparenter and on a Facebook support group called Coparenting Collective.