Will I Turn Into My Parents? 3 Ways Our Fathers May Influence Who We Become More Than Our Mothers

A dad runs with his daughter in the kid's play area during an event called 1.8 Million Square Feet of Art at the Mana Contemporary Art Center in Jersey City, New Jersey September 29, 2013. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

It's a popular trope that all women fear turning into their mothers some day. I don't personally understand this, because my mom is awesome and I'd love to one day be as brave, tough, and kind as she is —  but I realize that I may be in the minority with this stance. 

However, all the fuss about becoming our moms may be for nothing, as it's starting to look like women have been afraid of turning into the wrong parent. According to recent studies, women (and men alike) should be far more concerned that they're going to turn into their fathers than their mothers. Again, I don't see this potential outcome as something to fear in my case — my dad is a pretty fantastic individual, and turning out as hardworking and dedicated as he is would not make me sad — but that's a different article altogether. 

So can women end up turning into their dads, despite the whole gender difference? Well, it all depends on the fathers in question, and, more specifically, what kind of fathers they choose to be. Genetic similarities between fathers and daughters are an obvious given — even a daughter whose father was absent can inherit physical similarities from him — but that's not really what we're talking about here. What is truly fascinating about the father-daughter relationship is the many ways a father's influence over his daughter can influence her future lifestyle choices, romantic relationships, academic and professional career, and even her personality. 

Here are three ways women can turn into their fathers, or at least who their fathers encourage them to be, according to psychological study.

1. Academically and Professionally 

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Unsurprisingly, according to The Institute for Family Studies, women whose fathers encouraged their academic and professional success while they were growing up are more likely to graduate from college and pursue more challenging, higher paying jobs. I know this to be true in my own life, as one of the greatest motivations for this former homeschool student to succeed in college was the desire to please my parents. But I had no idea just how much of a pull my dad's influence in particular could have had on the details of my academic and professional pursuits. 

Fortunately, he has never pushed me into a specific track, but according to an article on The Institute for Family Studies blog written by Linda Nielsen, professor of educational and adolescent psychology at Wake Forest University and author of Father-Daughter Relationships: Contemporary Research & Issues (2013) and Between Fathers & Daughters: Enriching and Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship (2012), he could have. In her article, Nielsen discusses the role a father's opinion can play in the educational choices of female college students. While the bulk of women approached on the topic said they would not change their major based on their father's wishes, it was found that women with healthy father-daughter relationships are far more likely to reconsider their chosen field of study if their father were to show disapproval of their current one.

Additionally, not only do father's play a bigger role in who their daughters will become than previously thought, their influence over their daughters is stronger now than it's ever been. Nielsen describes this progression in her article as well, saying:

Today’s fathers also seem to be having a greater impact on their daughters’ academic and career choices than fathers in previous generations. For example, women who were born in the 1970s are three times more likely than those born at the beginning of the twentieth century to work in the same field as their fathers—a finding that researchers have attributed not just to society’s changing gender roles but also to daughters receiving more mentoring from their fathers.

While I can't say this is true for me personally since my dad's a mechanic and I'm a blogging machine, I can only see these findings as a win for daughters everywhere. Clearly, sons aren't the only way fathers are passing on their legacy anymore, and that's progress I think we can all get excited about. 

2. Romantically

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Another area in which the father-daughter relationship can determine a woman's future is romantically. According to the article cited above, daughters whose fathers are active in their lives are much more likely to pursue and maintain fulfilling romantic relationships than those with fathers who were either inactive or totally absent from their lives. This may seem like a pretty universally known truth, but it goes much deeper than you might realize. The reason women with present, invested fathers have more emotionally healthy, intimate romantic relationships is linked to the fact that a healthy father-daughter relationship decreases the chances of clinical depression, eating disorders, and negative body image in females. 

3. Personality

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This third way our dad's can influence who we become is both the most literal and the most depressing way we could turn into them someday. According to an article posted by Medical Daily which was prompted by findings published in the the journal, Personality and Social Psychology Review, fathers may actually shape the personalities of their children more than mothers do. But it all depends on who their children perceive as having the higher "interpersonal power or prestige." Once again, this does not relate to me personally — although my mother was a stay-at-home mom and my father played the traditional role of provider, I saw their partnership and their "prestige" as equal. But according to the evidence, my experience was not typical.

So, if you grew up seeing your father as the "head of the household" be prepared to inherit his personality. I just hope for your sake he was more Phil Dunphey than Peter Griffin. 

Images: Giphy/(3)

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