This article was written by Australia Counselling editorial board member Shushann Movsessian.
At puberty a girl begins to search in earnest for outside validation for her innermost hopes and dreams for herself as a young woman. “When she doesn’t find what she’s looking for, or when she sees women making compromises that the males in her family or society are not asked to make, she quite naturally becomes angry, frightened or disappointed. That’s part of the reason for adolescent rebellion and the need for healthy boundaires.
If her emotions aren’t validated and redirected in a positive way, her disappointment, anger and anxiety may take any of the following routes depending upon her innate temperament:
- expressed inwardly as depression, moodiness, or physical illness.
- expressed outwardly in self destructive behaviour e.g. poor relationships, substance abuse.
- hostility towards peers, parents, or other authority figures.
Most girls however reach a new emotional set point and calm down towards the middle to end of secondary school.
Some points to consider in a dad and daughter relationship:
- Most fathers want to spend more time with their children, but can’t because of their jobs. Counting the time spent commuting, working, doing house and yard work, and being with the kids, the average father has 5 hours less free time each week than the average employed mother. On average, employed fathers work 10 more hours a week than employed mothers.
- Fathers generally have as much or more impact as mothers do in the following areas of their daughters’ lives: (1) achieving academic and career success, (2) creating a loving, trusting relationship with a man (3) dealing well with people in authority-especially men (4) Expressing anger comfortably and appropriately-especially with men.
- Too many daughters regret not having gotten to know their father very well while he was still alive.
- Daughters who are raised by single fathers are just as well adjusted and as happy as daughters raised by single mothers.
- Fathers and daughters are usually closer when the mother works full time outside the home while the children are growing up.
- Many fathers believe that their wives and daughters’ feelings for them are partly-or sometimes largely-based on money.
- A father usually has a closer relationship with his kids when the mother lets everyone in the family know how much she appreciates his ways of parenting-especially if his way of relating to the kids isn’t exactly like hers.
Top Tips for building a healthy relationship with your daughter
- Fathers who empower their daughters to make decisions on their own help build a foundation of trust and respect that transfers to other areas as well.
- Get to know the people in your daughter’s life. Do you know who her three best friends are? Find out. Get to know her friends in an easy informal way. Make a point of being around when they visit and greeting them .
- What are her strengths? What’s she good at? Make sure you tell her. Acknowledgment and praise may get a shrug but it sinks in for life! (as does criticism) e.g. is your daughter kind hearted, funny, great at science, a good singer? good at a particular sport? Don’t be afraid to continue to show affection your for your daughter.
- Find a way to connect. Car chats are a great time for those discussions about life the day, sports teams, a musical group the latest movie she’s seen. You get the picture. If she goes to a sport make sure you take her there. Better still if you can join her in one of her interests it’ll be a great way to connect or at least have a conversation about.
- Many dads connect with their daughters through sport or travel.
- The best way to learn about positive relationships is to see them modeled, including the relationship between father and mother. Make sure you are your wife are seen as giving praise and acknowledgment to each other. Showing interest and care of each other.
- Rules and Boundaries – What are the boundaries in your home? Is everyone clear (beforehand) what would happen if these boundaries were crossed? Do they need updating? They will need to change as your daughter gets older. Are your children involved in creating the rules and deciding on what the consequences are if they’re broken