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Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family

by Peggy Drexler

Pub Date: May 10th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60529-360-8
Publisher: Rodale

Drexler (Psychology/Cornell Univ.; Raising Boys Without Men, 2005) sheds new light on the relationship between fathers and daughters.

The word father means different things to different people, but for the author, who lost hers at an early age, it means mystery. She always wondered what she missed growing up without one. Through research, surveys and conversations with other women, the author weaves an intriguing analysis of the often complex father-daughter relationship. The author’s first-person style is accessible and friendly, and she refrains from insulting the intelligence of the reader. Broken into three parts, the book kicks off with an overview of the roles fathers play in parenting and problems that can arise, with examples of fathers who get too close and fathers who do not put effort into getting close enough. The second section presents case studies of six women who have had positive relationships with their fathers—e.g., one father taught his daughter everything he would have taught a son. Though not surprising, the conclusions in the final section are significant. Every woman in the study realized the importance of the father figure in her life, even if the relationship was not entirely positive. Drexler includes a questionnaire that gently guides readers through an assessment of how well she knows her father, and provides tips for ways to improve father-daughter relations. Those tips, however, aren't simple or trite; her questions are thoughtful prompts for deeper analysis.

A helpful guide to father-daughter relationships, in which the author indicates that a woman must come to terms with her father in order to empower herself.