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3 things every father should do for his daughter
The letter written by 11-year old Jordyn Leopold to the Minnesota Wild coaches explains how she misses her father. - photo by Tyler Stahle
Another father-daughter relationship made the news this week as NHL defenseman Jordan Leopold was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Minnesota Wild, thanks in part to his deal-driving 11-year-old daughter, Jordyn.

In a letter to the Minnesota Wild organization, young Jordyn expressed that she was tired of being separated from her father, who was living in Columbus, Ohio, while his family remained in Minnesota.

We are living in Minnesota right now and I am lost without my dad, wrote Jordyn. We cannot take it any more.

Jordyn encouraged the Wild to make a trade for her father. A few days later, her wish came true as her father rejoined his family in Minnesota.

The desire a daughter has to be with her father is a natural one. The relationship between a father and daughter affects all aspects of a girls life from childhood to womanhood, according to Karen Ruskin, a licensed marriage and family therapist.

There is a natural need for a daughter to yearn for a father, said Ruskin, and that relationship influences who she is, what she believes herself to be, and her ability to love herself.

The vital role of a father has been a hot topic of discussion over the past several years, and with good reason. The influence a father has on his children might be greater than some initially think, according to Ronald Ronher, director of the Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut.

Were now finding that not only are fathers influential, said Ronher, sometimes they have more influence on kids development than moms.

If youre a father raising a daughter, consider the following ideas as you seek to build your relationship:

Play with her when shes young

You dont have to rough house with your girl like you would a son, but daughters also thrive off physical connections. Take time to let her climb on your shoulders or swing from your arms. These are moments shell always remember.

A study at the University of Wisconsin at Madison found that physical contact is both psychologically and physiologically healthy. This is because touching releases the hormone oxytocin into the body, causing the blood vessels to expand, which reduces blood pressure.

As your daughter grows older, continue to put your arm around her, give her a shoulder squeeze or a hug.

According to the National Center for Fathering, We can say things with a hug, a gentle touch, or a kiss on the cheek that we cant say with words, and our daughters desperately need these displays of affection.

It sounds simple, but for many men, showing physical affection towards a daughter is a daunting task.

Ruskin acknowledges that although this might be a legitimate fear, its something that can be overcome.

The father-daughter relationship yearns for and requires the emotional and physical affection as does the father-son relationship, said Ruskin. Just be yourself. Your physical connection with your daughter is like water in a desert necessary.

Compliment her daily

Children today are surrounded by negative comments.

Popular social media sites that are common to todays youth allow users to post vile or demeaning comments under the blanket of anonymity, reported the Deseret News Leslie Corbly last month. When such virtual attacks happen, victims are left scarred and belittled.

In a world of negativity, a father can be the voice of love, encouragement and support that girls need to hear.

If a father compliments his daughter, she sees herself in that way, continued Ruskin. If a father is void of compliments, she is left to seek out attention elsewhere, and painfully, that attention is not always the healthy type.

Compliments from a father have a twofold effect upon a child. First, when a child hears praise from a father, he or she will feel good about himself or herself, leading to an increase in self-confidence. Such self-confidence then empowers the child to make wiser life decisions.

When complimenting a daughter, Ruskin explained, try to compliment her for who she is, not just for the way she looks or for what she is doing.

For example, rather than saying You look pretty, which focuses on her outward appearance, say, You are so pretty. I like your choice of outfit today. And honestly, whatever you wear, you look beautiful because you are beautiful, which compliments who she is.

When a father addresses all aspects of beauty within a daughter, he is influencing who she believes herself to be and who she thinks she can become.

Take time to listen to her

As a daughter grows from child to teen to adult, one of the most important things a father can do is listen to her.

A child that feels their voice is heard is a child who feels valued, respected and important, said Ruskin. A girl who feels valued, respected and important in the life and relationship with her father is a girl who feels loved and special.

Conversely, children who feel that their voice is not heard, or have negative communication with a parent, may believe that they are unimportant, misunderstood or unappreciated.

Exceptional parents grant a child a voice equal to theirs the day that child is born, said psychologist Richard Grossman. And they respect that voice as much as they respect their own.
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