Based on the social science research summarized in my books for the past three decades, after parents separate, fathers’ relationships with their daughters are generally more damaged than their relationships with their sons.1, 2 This is not especially surprising since, when parents are living together, mothers generally have closer relationships with their daughters than with their sons. Mothers also generally disclose more personal information and seek advice and comfort more often from their daughters. Daughters are more likely than sons to hear damaging information about their dads from their moms and to end up being their mom’s confidante and “counselor”—a situation that generally gets worse and further weakens the father-daughter relationship after the parents separate.
Three situations that do the most damage to the father-daughter relationship are the mom’s refusal to share the physical custody of the children, her gatekeeping behaviors, and her negative reactions to the dad’s girlfriend or new wife. 1,2