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Sacrifices fathers make to raise confident and a strong daughter

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Raising a daughter also makes a man in a position of authority to be more mindful of women’s causes.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

“It is a girl!”

For fathers, that announcement might sound sweet to the ears but it goes far beyond shopping for pink-coloured items for a new family member. The announcement comes with a life-transforming journey, which changes a man completely.

Indeed, raising a daughter changes a man in many ways and this is backed by research and insights from psychologists.

For starters, a man raising a daughter is likely to be more in tune with their emotions and be more empathetic. The ways he expresses himself are also likely to change as he yearns to keep up with his ‘chatty’ daughter.

In case he is in leadership, he is likely to champion causes that empower the girl-child, given that patriarchy is still a challenge in the society.

So how does raising a daughter change a man’s communication?

 Maurifixten Kamau, a counselling psychologist and mental health consultant at Pan-African Christian University, says it has to do with the way daughters interact with their fathers.

The way fathers communicate with their daughters is not the same way they do with their sons, says Mr Kamau, a father of two girls and a boy.

“Girls help men to be better listeners because girls tend to talk more than boys. Girls are more inquisitive and embracing. Fathers are likely to bond more with their daughters because the minors will run to them for protection and validation. They want to hug them, talk to them and tell them stories about how their day was. But boys are conservative with details,” adds the psychologist.


The way fathers communicate with their daughters is not the same way they do with their sons.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Given the fact that the girls are emotionally sensitive, fathers tend to be softer with them when it comes to discipline.

“The way you discipline your son is different from how you handle the girl. There is a tendency to be softer when dealing with your daughter.”

With regard to change in emotion in men when raising a daughter, a 2017 study that analysed men’s brains gave valuable insights.

The study entailed taking magnetic resonance imaging scans of men’s brains as they viewed photos of an unknown adult, an unknown child, and their own child with happy, sad or neutral facial expressions.

Emotionally sensitive

The study, published in the Behavioural Neuroscience journal, indicated that fathers of young girls showed a ‘more robust’ response to their daughter’s happy facial expressions in the area of the brain that controls visual processing, reward, emotion regulation and face processing than fathers who have sons.

“Fathers of daughters had greater responses to their daughters’ happy facial expressions in areas of the brain important for visual processing, reward, emotion regulation and face processing than fathers of sons,” the study notes.

In a finding that the researchers hadn’t predicted, the brains of the fathers of boys responded more robustly to their sons’ neutral facial expressions, possibly because fathers are responding to the more ambiguous emotional displays of their sons.

The study’s lead researcher Jennifer Mascaro says fathers tend to respond faster to their daughter’s cry for help than their son’s.

The study says fathers of toddlers also sang more often to their daughters and spoke more openly about emotions, including sadness.

More songs for girls

It adds that fathers act differently when playing with their sons compared to their daughters.

“Fathers of sons engaged in more rough-and-tumble play and used more achievement-related language (words such as proud, win and top) when talking to their sons. Fathers of daughters used more analytical language (words such as all, below and much), which has been linked to future academic success,” says the journal published by American Psychological Association.


Girls help men to be better listeners because girls tend to talk more than boys.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

In addition to the brain influence, another way in which raising a daughter transforms a man is by pushing him to be the model manly figure.

Mr Albert Ogeda alias Zoezi Maisha, a father of two daughters and two sons, says for him raising girls is a call to set a good example.

“It’s always important to try to be the man that they would want to be with in the future,” says Mr Ogeda, a fitness enthusiast whose daughters are aged 17 and 13.

Though raising a daughter is rewarding, Mr Ogeda admits that it is also engaging.

“Raising daughters is quite challenging. You have to give your best to ensure you raise confident daughters and help to secure their future,” adds Mr Ogeda.

Daughter’s love life

Counselling psychologist Esther Mbau always reminds her male clients that they influence their daughters’ love lives.

“I always tell fathers who come in for therapy that they are the first male that their daughters actually date and they set the lower limit of how they will allow other men to treat them when they become young women ready to date or even get into marriage,” Ms Mbau tells Parenting.

Man and daughter

A man raising a daughter is likely to be more in tune with their emotions and be more empathetic.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Raising a daughter also makes a man in a position of authority to be more mindful of women’s causes. An example was during the failed impeachment of Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza in the Senate in November last year, where various speakers made reference to the fact that they are fathers of girls as they argued their points.

Senate majority leader Aaron Cheruiyot was quoted saying: “I am particularly troubled, Mr Speaker, because, to be sincere, I never knew of all those happenings until I saw the videos today. We must speak and condemn some of the things that we have seen in that particular video (showing unprintable insults hurled at the governor). I am a father of two girls, Mr Speaker, and I’d wish to leave a safe and a better haven for my daughters eventually when I am out of leadership.”

Notably, Mr Cheruiyot is a father of girls only, which makes him extra sensitive to the plight of girls and women.

Men’s tendency to treat women with dignity and respect is also linked to humanity.

“Psychologically, a man also has some feminine features just like women have male features. There are what we call mirror neurons, meaning when you find your fellow person going through an adverse experience, you picture yourself going through it. So, in this case, the men viewed the governor like their daughters, so they were able to extend their empathy,” explains counsellor Kamau.

Essentially, mirror neurons respond to actions that we observe in others.

Prof Elizabeth Aura McClintock, a lecturer at the University of Notre Dame, wrote in a 2013 article in the Psychology Today journal that being a father to daughters influences male legislators to vote in support of women’s issues.

Besides Mr Cheruiyot, the National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah is also a father of girls only.

“In my own household, I am a minority; with a wife and four daughters. Even Alicia, my daughter’s pet dog, is female. The house help is also female. Save for the watchman at the gate and I at the house, it is (all female),” Mr Ichung’wah said in a party forum last year.

“Because I am in the minority (at my home) I will stand by women.”

Mr Kamau, the psychologist, tells Parenting that men who raise girls will push for a fairer landscape due to the drive for self-preservation.

“Every animal has an instinct of preserving itself at the expense of the other. So, if you are a father of daughters, there is that instinct of self-preservation by making the playing field to be level so that at least when your daughter grows up, she will have a good head start,” says the psychologist.

Another way a daughter changes a man is that the household dynamics change due to the Electra Complex — an innate attraction between fathers and their daughters.

The opposite of Electra Complex is the Oedipus Complex which makes sons bond easily with their mothers.

“The girl will be unconsciously attracted to the father, like the mother would be attracted to the father,” explains Ms Mbau.

Owing to this complex, the girl will want the same affection, love, and protection that the mother is getting from the father.

 “So, for the men, it’s a very psychological process that they need to be very intentional to work through,” adds Ms Mbau.

She advises that the fatherly instinct will make a man want to provide for and protect his daughter.

“Fathers raising daughters will want to have this side that just leans into taking care of the girl and the feminine energy, hence them behaving like they’re actually wooing or trying to court another woman into their life. But generally, the fatherly instinct is about protection and providence,” reckons Ms Mbau.