Father's Influence Plays a Great Role in Daughter's Development

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All children's development is shaped by parents and/or other caregivers, but when it comes to women's career paths, the influence of fathers plays a big role. According to a 2009 study from the University of Maryland, women are three times more likely to follow in their father's footsteps. Doctor Meg Meeker, an author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, is also a firm believer that one's influence is a major factor in a woman's development.

“From the first years of a daughter's life, she admires, respects, and loves her father. If such admiration, respect, and affection are present and reciprocated in a father-daughter relationship, it is a recipe for women's success,” said dr. Meg Meeker.

In addition, the role of fathers in parenting may result in daughters' confidence and being responsible. The results of research conducted by Edward Andriyanto, Child Clinical Psychologist, on the islands of North Sumatra and Java show that the involvement of fathers in parenting is in the planning, monitoring, and evaluation functions.

“For example, when an event is over, dads tend to ask a lot of questions, like 'how did you think the event was? Good? Which part is good? If something is good, is there a part that you don't think is good?', questions like these trigger children to think critically, " said Edward.

Edward added that according to research, apart from being considered a strong people and willing to sacrifice themselves, fathers are also portrayed as silly and creative figures. Silly and strange questions that are often asked by fathers may lead to children answering with unusual things, hence increasing children's creativity.

Fathers are figures who have an impact on children but over the last few decades, there has been minimal involvement in accompanying their children's growth for reasons of work, earning a living, not their nature, or going for hobbies. The role of fathers in parenting is often ignored by society due to cultural and social norms. Even in school textbooks, a father is a figure who is busy working. 

"Fathers can prevent violations of social norms and gender inequality by creating healthy and respectful relationships, as well as building a family," said Steve Scott, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy Jakarta in the webinar Daddy's Wishes: My Daughter to Become a Future Leader (12/11/2021).

The same thing was also conveyed by Rohika Kurniadi Sari,  Assistant to the Deputy of Fulfillment of Child’s Rights to Caregiving and Environment, Ministry of Women Empowerment, and Child Protection. “A father not only acts as the head of the family but can also be a physical, mental, and moral protector for the daughter. The success of parenting from the father also determines the quality of the family," said Rohika.

The Role of Fathers in Developing Leadership Skills in Women

The division of parenting roles and duties between father, mother, and siblings inspires the daughter to collaborate and work together in the future. Snowerdi Sumardi, VP Quality & Food Safety, Danone AQUA shared the experience of dividing roles and tasks between fathers and mothers to their daughter with special needs.

“Our family is like a team, not only involving husband and wife but also siblings. There is collaboration and cooperation that gives family members trust and roles,” said Snowerdi.

Snowerdi realizes that the key to the children’s development is not only laid with the mother but also  the father. The distribution of parenting duties is also carried out because time with children is a golden opportunity and becomes part of a father's quality of life.

Meanwhile, Ayu Utami has experience as someone who grew up with the upbringing of the New Order era. “Even though the method was not good at that time, my father taught us that we all have rights and obligations. When the father provides facilities, the child must obey. If you don't comply, then the choice is to leave the house and I have left the house just to defend what I want," she said.

Ayu added that her father came from the New Order era, a period that was bureaucratic but the father managed to provide Ayu with the provision to have the courage to have an opinion and be responsible for her life choices. In addition, the father did not differentiate between sons and daughters which made him feel equal.

According to the September 2012 Issue of the Leadership Quarterly, a child only has 24 percent of the leadership spirit from birth that comes from intelligence and personality, while the remaining 76 percent of the leadership spirit emerges from the results of upbringing, skills, knowledge, and experience provided by their surroundings.

However, a leader is often thought of only as someone who can lead a group of people and it is more appropriate if a man sits in the chair of leadership. Meanwhile, according to Edward Adriyanto, a leader means even richer. A leader is someone who can lead himself, make his own choices, make decisions, inspire, and move others.

Ayu Utami, the author of a novel entitled Saman, has a similar view. For him, a leader is not just a position, but an attitude that is shaped like someone who dares to open a path that is considered necessary or someone who dares to carry out his life's mission even though it is not popular.

To cultivate leadership skills, especially for this daughter, fathers can do several ways as suggested by Edward. Starting with being a safe place for children by reducing trauma due to misogynistic views and patriarchal culture in Indonesia, then getting used to talking directly to girls, to discussing female figures in the media as inspiration to become leaders in the future.

In addition, talk to children at eye level to make children feel that everyone is equal in conversation. Likewise, normalize the mistakes made by children because being wrong is not the end of everything. On the other hand, mistakes provide opportunities for children to evaluate and find solutions. Equally important, teach girls to volunteer, for example, dare to answer questions from the teacher in class, and make decisions, for example choosing their clothes.

Besides being good for children, fathers who are close to their children have better health, longer life expectancy, and higher motivation to work.

Challenges That Can Prevent Young Women from Becoming Leaders

Nowadays, lack of self-confidence is something that prevents women from becoming leaders. Second, support for women to have the highest possible education. Third, the lack of female role models in the leadership ranks. And these challenges are multiplied for young women in rural areas.

“Girls in rural areas are already busy doing domestic activities, so there is less time to study, participate in scouts or youth groups, and play. Especially to train leadership,” said Dini Widiastuti, Executive Director of Plan Indonesia.

However, there is still hope to encourage girls with all the current limitations, both in terms of education and social norms, to continue to have aspirations as leaders, namely by building and showing many role models for women leaders, especially in rural areas.

“There is no need to be too grandiose, you can start with the older siblings who have graduated from college returning to the village, and then make, for example, sustainable and productive agriculture or try to break the existing norms a little bit,” added Dini.

Plan Indonesia also held a Girls Take Over event to provide opportunities for young women to take over important positions in the company as proof that they have the opportunity to realize their dreams.

It is the responsibility of all parties, both fathers, mothers, communities, and organizations to be able to encourage a young woman to become a leader. An older person has a responsibility to provide opportunities to encourage and increase children's self-confidence, especially girls.

“It takes a village to raise a kid,” concluded Dini in the discussion.

Nia Sarinastiti as Board Member of IBCWE said that the commemoration of National Father's Day can be used as a reflection of the role of fathers in growing self-confidence, especially for daughters to have the courage to be leaders for themselves in the future.

The Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE) held a webinar celebrating National Father's Day 2021 on 12 November 2021 with the theme Daddy's Wishes: My Daughter to Become a Future Leader sponsored by Danone Indonesia, supported by L'Oréal Indonesia, in collaboration with fimela.com. This activity aims to prepare more children, especially girls to become capable leaders in the future, as well as discussing the norms that can prevent young women from dreaming of becoming leaders, ways that parents can develop leadership skills for their children, and also inspire parents to play an active role in preparing the next generation of leaders. Watch the webinar Daddy's Wishes: My Daughter to Become a Future Leader.

16 November 2021

Tiara Tri Hapsari