Sugar and spice and all that’s nice. That’s what little girls are made of.
Father daughter relationships are complicated. One minute they are your little girl in pigtails, following you everywhere. You’re the only man in their lives. Then one day she grows up. She spends more time with her friends, starts wearing makeup, and GASP–she goes on her first date. Suddenly you feel left behind and shut out.
But wait–you don’t have to take a back seat to the teenage years in your daughter’s life. Instead of becoming a passive observer, try to play an active role. Studies have consistently shown that girls who have good relationships with their fathers have healthier relationships with men, have increased self esteem, and fewer overall mental health concerns.
Here are some tips to get you through the hormonal and often uncomfortable teenage years:
Listen. Men are notorious for wanting to fix everything-that’s just what they do. Girls and women are more interested in talking things out, not always needing an immediate fix. Let your daughter vent when she is experiencing drama.
Be there. It’s important for your daughter to see you regularly. Things as simple as just being near her, watching TV with her, sitting in the same room with her, or just being home when she is, can help create a pathway for conversation and bonding. Plus, it is likely that the more often she sees you, the closer she will feel to you (literally and figuratively).
Take her on “dates”. As girls get older they spend less time with their parents and more time with their friends. This is normal and should be encouraged. However, try spending at least an hour or two a week with her. Take her out for ice cream, take her shopping, or go to the movies. Whatever she wants to do-let her choose the activity. The point is that you continue to have quality time together throughout her teen years.
Stay connected, but respect her privacy. Often fathers think they should just “stay out” of their daughters personal lives and/or leave that up to their mother. That is not true. Father’s can play an active role in their girls’ personal lives. Start conversations; ask her what’s new in her life. She may not answer with more than a few words, but don’t give up. If she does talk to you about any problems she may be having, just like mentioned above, don’t try to fix it, but offer a supportive shoulder and an ear to listen to her. Show her you understand and can sympathize with her situation. If she says she doesn’t want to talk about it, respect her wishes, but let her know you’ll be there if she changes her mind.