couples

Two very different dads. Two very different daughters.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Twinings

Robin Bailey is attracted to big men. The kind of men who will hold her, make her feel secure and safe.

The reason, she says, is that her father died of a heart attack when she was just 11 years old.

His absence left her longing for validation, and has manifested throughout her life in various ways; self-esteem issues, body image issues, eating issues, and an attraction to men in the image of her father.

Listen: Robin and Bec tell their stories. (Post continues after audio.)

“My whole life has been marred a little bit and it’s only now that I’m in my forties that I have the confidence not to need to be validated in the same way and I do believe it was because my dad wasn’t around,” she said on the latest episode of The Well.

“No-one was there to tell me I was pretty or show me how to relate to men and boys when I was growing older and going through puberty.”

It was a conversation that made co-host Rebecca Sparrow really “stand up and think” about the impact of fathers on their daughters and the role they plan in laying down so much of the foundations of who we become.

Image: Supplied

Sparrow's own dad was the kind of dad every little girl wants. He raised her to be strong and free, with the kind of self-belief where if she told him she wanted to be Prime Minister, he'd tell her yes, she could be.

"He just always looked at me and spoke to me as if I had the greatest value in the world of what I offered as a human being, so I look back now and that confidence that he thought so highly of me... is so directly related to my father," she said.

Psychologists have recently taken a keen interest in the role that the father-daughter relationships plays in building resilience and raising fierce women.

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Psychiatrist Judith Martin says the role that fathers play is essential to laying down the foundations of good mental health, and raising daughters who will grow, thrive, and carry women with confidence throughout their teenage years and into adulthood.

"They are the first non-romantic relationships boys and girls have, so if you have a good relationship with your mother or father then you have a solid understanding of what a good relationship looks like," she said.

It's also about how your father treats your mother (regardless of whether they are still together). It shows children how a woman should be treated and what you should expect. It's a "blueprint" of sorts.

And research cited in Steve Biddulph's book Raising Girls shows that a caring father, step-father or father figure is a strong template for protecting girls and has a strong correlation with improved school results, career success, self-esteem and staying away from alcohol or drug misuse.

(Source: Supplied.)

Looking at her relationships, Bailey believes that both her husbands were the opposite of her father.

"They were strong and in their own ways kept their emotions in check and interestingly now after all the things that have happened to me is that the man I am dating at the moment is the most like my father," she said.

"But I think I've done so much work on myself and my self worth and just... I do wonder about that."

This episode of The Well is for every woman who married her father, or someone completely the opposite. For every woman who didn't have the father they needed in childhood. For those who behave now in the image of their dad. And how we are all our fathers' daughters - for better or worse.

Thanks to our brand partner Twinings and their new Twinings Feel Good Infusions Range.