Healthy father-daughter relationship prevents risky behavior

Healthy father-daughter relationship prevents risky behavior Fathers play a particularly important role in supporting healthy development of their adolescent daughters, according to research by USD Professor Harry Freeman.

"A close, healthy father-daughter relationship was a protective factor against over-involvement with romantic partners and risky behavior," said Freeman in reporting on his recent research with midwestern adolescents and parents. Freeman's research is featured in the latest publication of South Dakota Kids Count, Facts on Kids in South Dakota: Families and Fathers.

"Spending time with an adolescent, sharing activities and ideas, and providing support were the strongest predictors of low teen sexual activity and low commitment to romantic partners," he said. "This is important for both moms and dads in relating to their teenage children, but the findings as regards fathers and daughters were especially strong.

"Girls and boys are more likely to have intercourse and engage in unsafe sexual practices if they are emotionally disconnected from parents. Adolescent girls who lack a sense of closeness and security in a family context may begin to seek stronger emotional commitments from best friends and boyfriends," said Freeman. "Said another way, the road to teenage romantic commitment is short if paved with weak parent-daughter ties."

Freeman will be the lead presenter on a panel "Dads and Children: Attachment and Why It Matters" at the Spring Seminar 2002 scheduled for Friday, April 26 at the Holiday Inn City Center, Sioux Falls. Dr. James A. Levine, founder of the Fatherhood Project at the Families and Work Institute in New York City will present the keynote address on the topic "Daddy Strategy: How to Create a Father Friendly Environment and Why That's Good for Women, Children, and the Bottom Line."

Spring Seminar participants must register by April 22. The registration fee is $35. For more information about Spring Seminar 2002 contact the South Dakota Coalition for Children at www.sdchildren.

org or call 367-9667. The Facts on Kids in South Dakota: Families and Fathers publication is available at

brbinfo or by calling 605-677-5287. The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation provided funding support for the Facts on Kids in South Dakota: Families and Fathers publication and Dr. Levine's keynote address.

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