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Father as model.

The role of father is unquestionably vital to the daughter’s journey. The father has numerous, essential tasks in a healthy daughter’s growth, with the potential to evoke encouraging imagery, when the father archetype manifests as “wise king” versus “patriarchal king” (Murdock, 1994, p. 101; Moore & Gillette, 1990, pp. 49-73).

A daughter’s emotional and spiritual development is profoundly influenced by her relationship to her father; how he relates to her femininity will impact the way she matures and thrives as a woman. As the first masculine character in the daughter’s life, the father can shape the way the daughter will ultimately relate to men, and equally important how she will relate to the masculine side of herself.

Being different from the daughter and mother, the first “other” in the daughter’s life, the father can inspire the daughter’s sense of “differentness, her uniqueness and individuality” (Leonard, 1998, p. 11). The father can help the daughter to feel confident about surviving in the outside world and managing conflicts that come her way, beyond the “protected realm of the mother and the home” (p. 11).

The father can impart his feelings related to work and success, which helps to sculpt his daughter’s own attitudes in these areas. Leonard explains, “If he is confident and successful, this will be communicated to his daughter. But if he is afraid and unsuccessful, she is likely to take over this fearful attitude” (p. 11).

The father can project ideals onto his daughter, offering his daughter “a model for authority, responsibility, decision-making, objectivity, order, and discipline,” and then, “when she is old enough, he steps back so she may internalize these ideals and actualize them in herself” (Leonard, 1998, p. 11; Kohut, 1971, p. 66).

© 2014, Karina McGovern Chace, from "Fathers in the Sand: The Transformative Emergence of Archetypal Images through Sandplay.

[artwork by Snezhana Soosh🌿.]

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