What To Know About Daughters Who Hate Their Fathers


There’s something ideally special about the relationship between fathers and daughters, but what about those fathers and daughters who don’t get along? Is it really possible for daughters to end up hating fathers and if so, what should we know about daughters who hate their fathers in order to fix this?

There are a few main causes why daughters hate their fathers. From desire for independence to mismatched roles, some daughters end up hating their fathers. In these cases, fathers and mothers should act together, purposefully, to restore parent-child bonds.

As a daughter myself, I can’t imagine feeling hatred toward my father even though we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, nor do we still. Likewise, my husband and I have our own daughter, and though he and she (and me, while we’re at it) disagree about some fundamental issues, our experience is like many homes where parents and kids love each other anyway.

Is it only daughters from abusive homes, then, who hate their fathers? Surprisingly, there are daughters who hate their fathers despite coming from loving backgrounds. Below I’ve shared my thoughts about what to do if you find yourself in this kind of situation.

Is it normal for a daughter to hate her father?

The 1991 remake, with Steve Martin and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Father of the Bride (originally starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor) tried to recreate the changing relationship of fathers and daughters through the plot of a wedding.

To start, the first thing I’ve realized about what makes daughters hate their fathers is that there is no one cause usually. However, to be clear, it is not normalized behavior.

It is not normal for daughters to hate their fathers. With few exceptions, there is not one reason, but rather an escalation of actions, that eventually led to this result. Whether daughters are 6, 16, or 36, behaviors that deteriorate the relationship with her father need to be dealt with properly.

From 1991’s Father of the Bride to the latest father-daughter editions such as Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin’s Stillwater and Anthony Hopkins and Oliva Colman’s turn in The Father, Hollywood doesn’t lack attempts to capture the complex, and often complicated, relationship between a father and his daughter.

But what do you do if your daughter hates her father? Hollywood certainly hasn’t answered this question to satisfaction in spite of many attempts. Let’s look at what to do when this happens at different ages and stages because this is one way to be proactive as parents.

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My 6-year-old daughter hates her dad.

Even though it belies their cuteness, daughters younger and younger seem to act disrespectfully. At one time, just saying, ‘wait til your father gets home’ was enough to curb the tendency. Nowadays, fathers getting home seems to instigate worse behavior from some. So how do you respond to a disrespectful younger daughter who hates her father?

Younger daughters who hate their fathers are acting out of disrespect towards the ultimate authority figure in their short life. Responding to young daughters doing this should be swift, clear, and out of love. For effectiveness, fathers and mothers need to be on the same page with consequences.

Examples of disrespect that can lead to young daughters hating their fathers:

  • Ignoring him
  • Saying she loves Mommy better
  • Crying when he reprimands her
  • Throwing a tantrum when Dad says no
  • Manipulating parents by playing them against each other
  • Not obeying requests or rules from Dad

So what do you do with a disrespectful daughter who says she hates her dad?

First of all, both moms and dads should be on the same page with this. It’s critical that parents are in sync with expectations and consequences. Once that is established, you’ll be much more effective in dealing with disrespect.

Parents should address disrespectful behavior right away. This means even if you’re ‘too busy’, or tired, or would rather not get off the sofa after a long day’s work, you do it anyway.

When addressing the behavior, use kid-appropriate language. There’s no need for long discussions (kids stop listening after a few minutes anyway). Just address the problem; be clear about the expectation and set a consequence.

Now the consequence can simply be redirection, making her do the task at hand, or whatever seems to make sense. If it’s not the first time this act of disrespect has occurred, then you should probably elevate the consequence to include more of a punishment.

After all, it’s a second offense and at this point, you want to be like Barney Fife and ‘nip it in the bud’!

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When Teen Daughter and Dad Don’t Get Along

Even if you’re able to halt a younger daughter from acting disrespectful towards her father, it’s likely the teen years will bring a recurrence of the old ways. What do you do about a teenage daughter who hates her father?

Experts say it’s common for teens to rebel against parents, but often it focuses on dad if he represents discipline. It may look like daughters and fathers who don’t get along, but it could manifest as daughters who hate their fathers. Thus, it’s vital to address any show of disrespect promptly.

And remember parents need to be partners as they deal with disrespectful daughters for it to be effectual.

For our daughter, the teen years were a stage of exerting independence about clothes, boys, friends, curfews, or other. Sometimes this came out through disrespectful behavior like eye rolls, back talk, sneaking around, or disagreements about politics, religion, or the mundane. As the main disciplinarian in the home, her dad (my husband) felt the brunt of it usually. Of course, he (we) was on it immediately. It never got so far as her ever saying (aloud anyway) that she hated her dad, but there were several occasions it looked like none of us got along.

Again, to deal with disrespect, is to correct it immediately, and with love. Doing this-though it may seem counterproductive- is ordinarily all that’s needed to prevent daughters from hating their fathers.

Your Adult Daughter Hates Her Dad

Dealing with an adult daughter who hates her dad is especially precarious. Daughters at this age feel they are in charge of their own beliefs and actions, and by all accounts, are. Nevertheless, it’s important that no matter how old we are we show respect to our parents.

The way to deal with an adult daughter who hates her father is to address it head-on but with purpose. This means talking to her about her feelings, even if uncomfortable, and working towards a resolution. This is easier to correct if disrespect hasn’t gotten out of hand over the years.

Suggestions for parents with an adult daughter who hates her dad:

  • Stay realistic. It may mean that the father-daughter relationship will never be a Hallmark-card worthy.
  • Model respect. Treat your daughter as an adult, even if she’s not acting like one.
  • Don’t try to overdo holidays. This makes the event more stressful than intended, and won’t help already-stressed relationships.
  • Maintain privacy. Have a heart-to-heart about the behavior out of earshot of other relatives or friends. It’s important that matters are kept private to maintain trust.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Your daughter needs to know that she can always count of you to talk when she’s ready. As parents, we’re never ‘done.’

Daughters With Daddy Issues Have Problems As Adult

The 2015 film starring Russell Crowe called Fathers & Daughters is another Hollywood example of movies that try to tackle the complex dynamic of a father-daughter relationship.

This 2001 study conducted at the University of Connecticut and Western Connecticut State University was able to not only demonstrate the impact of a father’s role for his children, but also credits it in some ways as even more critical than a mothers when it comes to the influence it has on shaping children’s adult relationships.

So what does this mean when it comes to daughters who hate their fathers?

Daughters with daddy issues are going to struggle with relationships as adults. The relationships we form with our parents are our primary models for future relationships. It is crucial to deal with these issues first in order to build healthy bonds with others later.

As parents, our number one priority in life is the well-being of our children. This means then that we take the effort to heal broken relationships with them; whether it’s our fault or theirs is really inconsequential.

What causes daughters who hate their fathers?

When we hear about daughters who hate their fathers, from either perspective, we naturally wonder what caused this to happen? Especially when it’s clear that fathers aren’t abusive, we can’t comprehend what could ever make a daughter hate her dad!

The causes of daughters who hate their fathers are multifaceted. From controlling fathers who alienate daughters to homes where parent-child roles are disordered, reasons for hate must go deep for it to grow. Sometimes causes of hate can be rectified, but it’s much easier the earlier one tackles it.

Controlling Fathers Alienate Daughters

Since children are oftentimes the product of their parents, we must recognize that the problem between fathers and daughters may indeed start with fathers (or the parents). What kind of fathers produce relationships that cause daughters who hate them?

Controlling fathers alienate daughters, particularly once daughters become teens and young women. While fathers may do this as a means to keep daughters safe, it sometimes results with them not only running away at the first chance of independence, but hating their fathers as well.

How can dads avoid what constitutes as controlling behavior?

  • Be a good husband first. Dads who are good husbands will be better fathers. It’s important daughters see her dad in a a healthy, positive relationship with her mother.
  • Be purposeful in your actions. Remember that the main goal is not to ‘be right’ or ‘win the argument.’ It’s to parent in a way that brings about your daughter’s well-being. Put that first in your intention.
  • Be Dad, and let her be daughterKeep in mind that dads are parents first, before any kind of friendship can come into play. Contrary to what society may say, daughters have only one dad and they need their dad to live up to his role. Dad’s should care more about what their daughters do than any friend.

Roles Must Be Respected for Dads, Daughters, and Mothers

As alluded to in the prior section, fathers and daughters who don’t stay in their roles can lead to daughters who hate their fathers. And this creates disordered homes and relationships.

Fathers not fulfilling their roles sometimes this looks like dads who want to just be friends with their daughter or seen as the ‘fun’ parent; other times, it is dads who are just not there or absent. When dads don’t perform their role, then daughters don’t know how to do theirs.

Daughters in these situations lack adequate role models for relationships, decision-making, and responsibility. Even if moms are present and doing the best they can under the circumstances, it’s not enough because no one parent can fulfill both roles successfully.

And because daughters are children first, it’s up to the parents, and primarily dads, to take charge in setting boundaries and establishing expectations for roles in the family structure. And even though it may seem like this is ‘job’ has an 18-24 year expiration date, that’s not the case.

Being a parent is forever! It’s true some expectations will change as children grow up, but our roles remain.

Mental Disorders Can Affect Father-Daughter Relationships

Hidden Voices, a 2015 British report of almost 2,000 individuals, investigated reasons for child estrangement from parents, and the psychological ramifications connected. They found that mental illness and emotional abuse were the main reasons provided. Also listed were the ensuing negative impact upon an adult child’s relationships with her friends and romantic interests.  

Besides controlling fathers and unclear roles, mental illness and emotional abuse can keep daughters away from parents. Whether or not fathers are the abuser or mentally-ill person, a daughter is likely to lay blame on dad as he’s head of household in charge of keeping her safe.

  • If the father is the culprit, he’s responsible to seek help and stop the abusive behavior.
  • If mom (or big brother/sister, other relative, neighbor, etc.) is the culprit, then, again, it’s dad’s parental obligation to stop it.
  • If the daughter has a mental disorder or is abusive, once again, it’s the parent’s role to handle it, especially if signs appear when she’s under 18.

For dads it may seem unfair that they have this responsibility-more than anyone else- to keep their daughter safe, so let me put it like this: Daughters should expect both their father and mother to take care of them. But at its core, protecting their kids is the main point of being a man for fathers. So even if dads try to shuck some responsibility off onto mothers, it still doesn’t negate their own.

So to reiterate it, a dad’s parental role is to keep his daughter safe, from herself, from himself, and from others. If he doesn’t, then it could most certainly lead to a daughter who hates her father.

Special Note: If you or someone you know show signs of mental health problems, please contact a medical professional like a family doctor or other help like your priest or a local counselor for support. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357) 

Toxic People Cause Riffs For Dads and Daughters

There are also people who intentionally want to harm families and the best way to do that is by causing conflict between parents and children. Sometimes these people are labeled as ‘toxic.’

“A toxic person is anyone whose behavior adds negativity and upset to your life. Many times, people who are toxic are dealing with their own stresses and traumas.”

WebMD

The influence of toxic people can be a cause for daughters to hate their fathers. Specifically, this commonly takes the form of moms, grandparents, or friends (away from the home) who undermine her relationship with her dad in order to build themselves up.

When you notice your daughter acting disrespectfully to her dad, think about the surrounding circumstances. Did she just come from grandma’s house? Or did she have a sleepover the night before with some school pals? Maybe it happens every afternoon after watching Disney+. If so, you’ve just identified the toxins.

This isn’t to say that ‘toxic people’ (i.e. ‘grandma’) are doing it diabolically or insidiously. It could just simply be that they aren’t good influences for your daughter, as evident by her behavior after contact.

How to deal with toxic people:

  • Unsupportive mom– If the mother isn’t working with the father, then there is much more to be concerned about than a daughter’s disrespect, even if it can lead to hate. The first step in this situation is for dad and mom to learn to work together- this must be accomplished before any healthy, good parenting can take place.
  • Undermining grandparents– If grandma and/or grandpa are indulgent, permissive, or in any other way, undermining the parenting role, then dads and moms must put a stop to it. Talk to the grandparents and voice your concern. Give them a chance to self-correct, but if they don’t, limit time (don’t stop it altogether!) spent alone or make sure visits and contacts with grandparents are supervised.
  • Interfering friends-As the parent, you have the right and obligation to stop any friendships that interfere with your family’s well-being. Your daughter will be upset but in the long run, she will (probably) thank you. Regardless, you must do what you think is right for her. You’re the parent!

Special spotlight: As a former public school teacher with three teaching endorsements and almost twenty years of experience, I can still say I support homeschooling! In fact, my experience and accolades in public education make me even more credible as a homeschooling advocate.

If your child is having problems in school, whether it’s private or public, don’t be afraid to homeschool. With advances in technology, it’s easier than ever!

We’ve tried many schooling environments with our four kids (from charter to traditional) but nothing exceeded the benefits of homeschooling, and we even did it with a child with special needs! Our two adult children both received full scholarships to college afterwards, too.

To learn more about homeschooling, check out these articles. Feel free to email me questions if you have them after.

Daughters Who Hate Their Fathers Takeaway

To conclude, let me say that daughters who hate their fathers aren’t unchangeable.

Our children are, for the most part, products of our homes. I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, ‘apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’ Well, daughters are like apples in this idiom.

Don’t fight hate with hate! To reverse ‘hate’ in our family, parents must act with love. And this doesn’t mean ignoring the behavior or coddling children in the guise of loving them either.

Love is an action, and to put a stop to hate, which really is disrespect, parents, especially fathers (see the research link about the impact of fathers) must be active: direct, clear, and immediate. This is easier to do if dads act when children are young, but again, not impossible even when they’re grown.

Lastly, parents must be vigilant about guarding the home, especially when children are young, against negative influences from the outside. Daughters can be unduly affected by friends, extended family, and even media targeted to kids. Pay attention to any connections between them and disrespectful behavior from your daughter.

The relationship between fathers and daughters is worth the effort!

For further reading, I suggest these related articles:

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a Catholic mother of four, grandmother ("Oma") to two, and wife to Mat since 1994. She is a former public school teacher of 18 years, licensed in 3 states and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. In addition, she also taught education courses online as an adjunct professor, mentored numerous education interns, hosted professional development for educators, and tutored, as well as homeschooled.

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