Dads and Daughters
A lot has been said about boys needing their fathers. What is sometimes overlooked is how much daughters need their dads. A woman’s sense of worth is strongly linked to her relationship with her father, particularly during her teenage years.
There may be many things you want to tell your daughter, but earn the right to speak by listening to her first. If all a dad does is lecture, he’ll alienate her. Daughters need to be able to tell dads about difficulties and confusing emotions, and in a trusting relationship your daughter will value your male perspective on life.
Your daughter will be watching you to understand how men should be. If you are able to model consistency, trustworthiness, sensitivity, humour, respect for others, the right priorities (e.g. family over work commitments), she will have an inbuilt “sensor” to detect men who don’t measure up.
It’s easy for dads to cuddle young girls. It may be more difficult to be physically affectionate when she starts to grow up. Some studies show that if physical affection is not present, girls may try to satisfy their yearnings to be touched and held by getting into risky relationships. Your daughter needs you to hug her, kiss her on the cheek and create an emotional bond that can’t be said with words.
Help her when she tries out ‘flirty’ behaviour on you. Show her what expectations you have from her as a maturing young woman. Give her a sense of self worth and self esteem by praising her, noticing when she looks good, and valuing her personal qualities - times when she shows kindness, loyalty to friends, trustworthiness.
Hang in there
The mark of mature parenting is the ability to offer consistent, unconditional love, in the face of knock-backs, put downs or a stroppy attitude. Seeing past bad behaviour to the loving daughter you know is in there somewhere is so important and keeps the communication lines open for when she is ready to re-connect to you in a good way.
Tips for dads and daughters
- E-mail and text each other
- Go out for a meal or to see a film now and then, just the two of you
- Find a joint interest and spend fun time together
- Be each other’s fashion guru
- Allow each other to “get it wrong” at times
- Know what each other’s hopes and dreams are
- Encourage and teach each other about life as you see it
(Written after an encounter with a 16-year old who desperately needed her dad’s love and affection.)
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