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Linda Nielsen - Wake Forest University. Winston-Salem, NC, US

Linda Nielsen Linda Nielsen

Professor of Adolescent and Educational Psychology | Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC, UNITED STATES

Nielsen’s special interest is helping divorced and estranged dads and daughters reunite or strengthen their bonds.



Linda Nielsen is a nationally renowned expert on father-daughter relationships, having researched and written about the topic since 1970. For more than 25 years, she has taught the only known college class in the U.S. devoted exclusively to father-daughter relationships.

Her latest book, Father-Daughter Relationships: Contemporary Research and Issues, examines what improves or weakens these relationships and their impact on society. Written to aid social workers, family counselors, mental health practitioners and educators, Nielsen’s special interest is helping divorced and estranged dads and daughters reunite or strengthen their bonds.

In addition to having written five related books and numerous articles for scholarly journals such as the Harvard Educational Review, her analyses of shared residential parenting after divorce have been pivotal in legislative debates about custody law revisions. Linda is a nationally recognized expert on the research on shared physical custody and shared parenting after parents separate.

Nielsen’s research and advice have appeared in national news outlets such as NPR, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Seventeen, Woman’s Day and in a PBS documentary. Her work is also featured on many national organizations’ web sites, including Stepfamily Association of America, National Center for Fathering, and the Center for Successful Fathering. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, National Council on Family Relationships, Council on Contemporary Families and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Areas of Expertise (9)

Family Dynamics Educational Psychology Fathers and Daughters Portrayal of Fathers in Media Asolescent Psychology Divorce and Stepfamilies Shared Residential Parenting Fairy Tailes and Fatherhood Myths Restoring Relationships



Linda Nielsen Publication



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Accomplishments (2)

Outstanding Article Award (professional)


Awarded by the U.S. Center for Women Scholars

Postdoctoral Fellowship (professional)

Awarded by the American Association of University Women

Education (3)

University of Tennessee: Ed.D., Educational Psychology

University of Tennessee: M.Ed., Educational Psychology

University of Tennessee: B.S., Teacher Education

Affiliations (4)

  • American Psychological Association : Member
  • National Council on Family Relationships : Member
  • Council on Contemporary Families : Member
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts : Member

Media Appearances (8)

How a Wake Forest professor's research motivated a new Barbie ad campaign

Triad Business Journal  


The research of a Wake Forest University professor is playing a role in a national advertising campaign involving Barbie, one of the world’s most iconic dolls. Dr. Linda Nielsen has for more than 25 years taught a class at Wake Forest on the dynamics between fathers and their daughters. Mattel Inc.is crediting Nielsen as one of the motivating forces behind the company’s new “You Can Be Anything” campaign.

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Dads play Barbie with their daughters in the doll’s latest charming effort to modernize



Barbie cites research by Dr. Linda Nielsen of Wake Forest University showing that girls who have loving, communicative, supportive relationships with their fathers from early childhood are less likely to suffer from a lack of self-confidence and self-reliance as they grow up.

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WFU research inspires Pantene commercial

Time Warner Cable News  


Research from Wake Forest University helped inspire a unique commercial just before Super Bowl 50.

Pantene released a series of digital spots this week that involves New Orleans Saints’ Benjamin Watson, Pittsburgh Steelers’ DeAngelo Williams and Dallas Cowboys’ Jason Witten styling their little girls hair.

The hair care brand showcases the importance of father-daughter relationships with a message that it builds strong women. Pantene used Dr. Linda Nielsen’s research for the ads.

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Research supports Massachusetts shared parenting legislation: Guest viewpoint

Mass Live  


Are parents putting their own selfish needs ahead of their children's best interests when they share the physical custody of their children? Are custody laws that encourage parenting plans where the children live at least 35% of the time with each parent putting parents' rights ahead of the children's well-being?...

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The difficulty in telling dad ‘I love you’

Fox 13 Salt Lake City  


These lingering effects are still felt by children who struggle to share their feelings with their fathers the way they do with their mothers. Research shows that children are more likely to say “I love you” to their mom than their dad, said Dr. Linda Nielsen, professor of educational and adolescent psychology at Wake Forest University...

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Will I turn into my parents? 3 ways our fathers may influence who we become more than our mothers



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...

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Big shift pushed in custody disputes

The Wall Street Journal  


“If dad is subject to the typical ‘Wednesday dinner and every other weekend’ arrangement, he’s not doing the kind of parenting that benefits kids, making sure the homework is done, getting them up for school,” said Linda Nielsen, a psychology professor at Wake Forest University. In such situations, a father “is basically reduced to an uncle.”...

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Column: Shared parenting: preventative medicine for kids

Journal Star  


Columnist and family psychologist John Rosemond recently wrote that when deciding contested custody cases, judges should avoid equal parenting outcomes and instead give one parent primary custody with the other parent receiving limited parenting time...

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Articles (5)

Shared parenting after divorce: A review of shared residential parenting research Journal of Divorce and Remarriage

One of the most complex and compelling issues confronting policymakers, parents, and the family court system is what type of parenting plan is most beneficial for children after their parents' divorce. How much time should children live with each parent? An increasing ...

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Black undergraduate and white undergraduate eating disorders and related attitudes College Student Journal

The author reviews the most recent literature on the differences between white and black females in regard to eating disorders, dieting, and physical self-confidence. The racial differences and similarities from a questionnaire given to almost 400 female ...

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Stepmothers: Why so much stress? A review of the research Journal of Divorce and Remarriage

Recent psychological and sociological literature is reviewed in answering two questions: What factors generally affect how much stress women encounter as stepmothers? Why do stepmothers often experience more stress than stepfathers? The answers seem to ...

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Demeaning, demoralizing, and disenfranchising divorced dads: A review of the literature Journal of Divorce and Remarriage

The most recent research demonstrates that too many fathers are demeaned, demoralized and disenfranchised after divorce in ways that make it difficult for them to maintain close relationships with their own children. Divorced fathers' relationships are ...

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Family rights and the 'registered partnership' in Denmark International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

In 1989 Denmark took the innovative step of introducing a special legal regime, the 'registered partnership', of which only couples of the same sex, whether or not they are living together, may, if they choose, take advantage. The regime is closely modelled on ...

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