Taylor Swift is a machine—lately, one that has extended beyond her global music career. It has been reported she’s brought in an estimated $330 million-plus in ad revenue to the NFL just by attending games and cheering on her boyfriend, Travis Kelce.
And Swifties everywhere started tuning in to pro football games just to get a glimpse of her, resulting in an exciting silver lining: Dads and daughters are bonding over football more than ever before.
Recently, a friend was planning to visit my home with her 11-year-old daughter Camryn. She asked if they could come early so Camryn could catch the start of the Chiefs game. I responded, “Of course, but I didn’t realize she was such a football fan!”
“She isn’t! She just watches for Taylor Swift,” my friend said with a laugh.
And Camryn is not alone. After the couple’s hard launch, the NFL has seen a dramatic spike in viewership among girls and women, especially pre-teens and teens. It’s being referred to online as “The Taylor Swift Effect:” While Taylor fans may just be trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite pop star, they’re also spending QT with their football-loving dads.
The trend is so popular, it even provided fodder for a tear-jerking Super Bowl commercial this year. Skincare brand Cetaphil featured a real dad-daughter duo in “#GameTime Glow” during Sunday’s big game, celebrating the profound bond between fathers and daughters—all without saying a word.
Instead of chasing after fleeting digital trends, this campaign “champions the heartfelt moments shared between family members, fostering genuine connections that transcend digital platforms,” says the company. And it hit a chord with viewers.
Cetaphil’s super bowl commercial about the taylor swift effect is actually so sweet
— Tayvis Nation
(@tayvisnation) February 9, 2024
“We wanted to create a campaign that resonates on a deeper level, beyond the noise of internet culture,” says Craig Elimeliah, Cetaphil’s CCO. “With ‘GameTime Glow,’ we’re not just offering skincare products; we’re providing families with a toolkit for togetherness, a chance to learn, laugh and love as they prep for the big game.” (Content creator Sharon Mbabazi says that her own videos featuring her relationship with her stepfather seem to have inspired the father-daughter bonding concept, and reached out to Cetaphil for credit. The brand has since “made things right,” Mbabazi says.)
With more than 60% of U.S. men claiming the title of “Dad”, experts say it’s crucial that fathers and daughters find ways to connect. “While many young women may bond more naturally and share common interests with their mothers, a father-daughter relationship and connection is equally as important, as it can lay the foundation for future healthy relationships and positive perceptions about men,” says Nicholette Lanza, LPPC-S, a therapist at LifeStance Health.
As daddy’s little girl grows into a young woman, it can become even more challenging for girl dads to find ways to relate to her and figure out how they fit into her life. While transitional stages can be difficult, experts say they can be an excellent opportunity for growth, learning and bonding.
So how can we keep these precious bonding moments going well after the NFL season ends? Lanza provides her top tips.
How to foster father-daughter bonding after football season
Keep the lines of communication open
Lanza says the onus is on the dads, who should continue to make an effort to spark conversations about their daughter’s interests and then make a plan to do those things together. “It may be more challenging for some daughters to open up to their dads than others, so asking open-ended and more specific questions can help avoid getting into the one-word-answer trap,” Lanza explains.
And if it’s challenging to find one-on-one face time with your on-the-go teen, digital will do. “Sparking conversations over text messages can be helpful. Ask about her day, listen actively and share your thoughts and experiences. Encourage open communication and respect her opinions,” she adds. Listening (and not lecturing) can go a long way.
If you’re struggling with topics to talk about, the book Conversation Starters for Dads and Daughters could be helpful.
Create new traditions together
A recent study found that shared activities are game-changers in father-daughter relationships. Quality time together doesn’t need to be during a big event like a concert, show or sporting event. “It can be as simple as going out to breakfast together just the two of you, watching a show or movie together on a specific night of the week, playing a sport together, going for a walk, or even making a playlist together with both of your favorite music to listen to during car rides on the way to school,” advises Lanza.
If it’s not an activity you’re super excited about, compromise is vital. “Even if it’s an activity that dad (or daughter) might not be jazzed about initially, you can take turns with each of you picking the activity every month. You may realize you have more in common than you thought,” says Lanza. If you notice your daughter is hesitant initially, you can let her take the lead so you start with something she’s excited about.
Prioritize 1:1 time
Finding time for 1:1 bonding with each child can be challenging in larger families, but it’s important to strengthen a bond. “Carve out time for just you and your daughter, even if it’s just once a month. It could be cooking together, shopping, playing a game, teaching her how to drive [if age-appropriate] or even going for a pedicure,” suggests Lanza.
Champion the father-daughter dance
Remember, dads, it’s a learning journey for both of you, so don’t beat yourself up too much if you make mistakes or aren’t doing it perfectly—it’s a dance of sorts where one of you may fall or make a misstep, but the other one is there to pick you up and still loves you unconditionally anyway. After all, you’re part of the same team! The journey may not always be easy, but the rewards are worth it.