Dads and daughters
You’ll often hear the phrase, “boys need their fathers”, which is true, but occasionally it’s overlooked how much girls 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 their dads about difficulties and confusing emotions, and if a trusting, strong relationship has evolved, your daughter will value your male perspective on life.
Your daughter will learn from your actions and language, trying to understand how men should behave. If you’re able to model consistency, trustworthiness, sensitivity, humour, respect for others, healthy priorities (e.g. family over work commitments), she’ll have an inbuilt sensor to detect men who aren’t quite what she’s looking for, or align with her values.
It’s easy for dads to cuddle their daughters when they’re young. 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 difficult relationships outside of the family. Your daughter needs you to hug her, kiss her on the cheek and create an emotional bond that can’t be said with words.
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 and honesty.
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, common in the teen years. Seeing past the changing, unfavourable behaviour to your loving daughter you know is in there is so important and keeps the communication lines open for when she is ready to reconnect to you.
Tips for dads and daughters:
- Email and text each other
- Go out for a meal or to see a film, 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 sometimes
- 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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