and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand and Support Your Daughter
When She's Growing Up So Fast BY Joe Kelly
Queen Bees and Wannabes: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your
Daughter Survive Gossip, Boyfriends, and Realities
THE SPECIAL BOND BETWEEN DADS AND DAUGHTERS
by Joe Kelly
can make a huge difference in his daughter's life. He will not make
it problem free, because that's impossible. But his involvement is
important in so many ways.
with, fathers influence how their daughters see themselves. A girl
whose father listens to and respects her will expect others to listen
to her and treat her well.
we, as dads, act toward our daughter and other females in her life
is what she will expect from boys and men. The same is true for our
attitudes, words and beliefs. When we are true to our daughter and
true to the best in our masculine heritage, she will gravitate to
men who respect her and treat her as an equal. She will turn away
from men who threaten, violate and abuse.
FOR DADS TO OVERCOME
A number of hurdles make it harder for dads to parent daughters. To
overcome some of them, we just need to raise our level of awareness.
Others require more work on our part.
- We grew
up as boys and even if we had sisters, we still don't know what it's
like to grow up as a girl. No matter how much we love our growing
daughters and how much we want to connect with them, they are sometimes
a complete mystery, just because they're females.
hesitate to ask for advise from our own family members, and when
we do talk to other dads we're more likely to discuss the complexities
of baseball free-agency than the challenges of fatherhood.
feel caught between stereotypes. We're depicted either as a second-class
parent, invisible and incompetent (Dad as dummy) or the all-knowing
super-dad who can solve any problem.
were taught that a father's primary obligation is to provide for
his family-and that's a good thing to learn. But too many of us
equate the key word "provide" with our wallets. This way
of thinking justifies our spending too much time, energy and attention
away from home and our kids.
way our fathers did things may not make sense today. For example,
how much did your dad do around the house? What did he tell you
about how to be a father and why it matters?
Listen to your daughter. Pay attention even in the most ordinary moments.
A girl's voice is the conduit to her heart, brains, and spirit. When
she speaks boldly and clearly, both literally and metaphorically,
she feels safer and surer.
It may be
hard to hear your daughter talk about her feelings. Very few dads
are big on "processing." When we encounter conflict or difficulty,
we tend to plow through it as fast as possible while your daughter
is more likely to want to analyze the situation.
Problems vs. Solutions
When your daughter tells you about a problem, don't jump in with a
solution. Instead, try asking: “Do you want my advice or do
you want me to just listen?" When you give a girl this choice,
she will be more open to any advice you eventually give.
As with all aspects of parenting, there are no guarantees of outcomes.
It should be comforting to parents to know their close relationship
and connectedness they have with their kids might help to prevent
destructive choices during the teen years. Through effective communication,
example, and guidance, parents can make a crucial difference in their
kids’ important decisions.
If you expect your daughter to be honest with you, don't punish her
as soon as she says a truthful thing you don't want to hear. It was
not easy for her to tell you something she knows you won't like. Praise
her for being honest before you address the specific subject.
If you want your daughter to talk openly, resist the urge to criticize.
Your comments may seem obvious and not particularly harsh to you,
but she may interpret them differently. Listen without interrupting.
Try to understand her point of view. This will have a real impact
on your ability to talk to each other.
in your daughter's life.
Try to understand why your daughter is so concerned about her body
image. Remember the underlying message girls get from society is that
they have to look a certain way to get a boy's attention. A dad counters
that destructive message when he plays a sport with his daughter,
drives her to practice, attends her recital and cheers on her brains
and persistence. It doesn't have to be an organized sport: play catch,
jump rope or just walk the dog together.
Get involved with your daughter’s school. Ask tough questions
such as: “Are more boys than girls taking advanced math and
science classes?” “What is the school's policy on sexual
harassment?” Participate in out-of-school activities: volunteer
to drive, coach, direct a play or teach a class. Talk to other fathers
with whom you can share experiences, expertise and encouragement.
the world a better place for girls.
Work with other parents to demand an end to violence against females,
media exploitation of girls, pornography, and advertisers making billions
feeding on our daughter's insecurities and all "boys are more
important than girls" attitudes.
(Adapted from the author's new book, Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire,
Understand and Support Your Daughter When She's Growing Up So Fast)