As these items suggest, dads damage their chances for a strong relationship with their daughters by under-investing in how their daughters actually are and over-investing in how they think their daughters should be. This kind of dad, according to Barbara Goulter and Joan Minninger, authors of The Father-Daughter Dance, is likely to perceive his son as being much like himself, a natural companion, but wonders what he can do with a daughter. "Not knowing the answer, he may neglect, abandon, exploit, or abuse his child," write the authors. Conversely, he may "make a pampered pet of her, imagining that's what she wants, and sometimes being stunned when she is ungrateful or resentful in return."
Ellie, the young woman quoted in Queen Bees and Wannabes, also voices a daughter's frustration with not being recognized and valued by her father: "There's something really powerful about being daddy's little girl, and most girls don't want to tarnish that image. At the same time, it's also difficult to talk to fathers because it seems like they don't know what to say and they also seem kind of clueless sometimes."
In other words, too many dads are saying to their daughters, "I don't understand you, and for that reason I'll try to avoid you or make you into something that I do understand." While this domineering attitude needs correction, unfortunately many dads attempt to do so by emulating the traditionally gentle and nurturing qualities of mothers. The truth is, neither the hard-headed patriarchal father of previous generations, nor the mothers of any age, can serve as role models for dads today. Men need to be involved in their daughters' lives while maintaining their paternal nature—and while allowing their daughters to maintain their personalities. More likely, it is partly through their relationship that a dad and daughter discover what their paternity and personality are like in the first place.