Often, I hear girls gather to their father. It wasn’t until I had my own daughter that I understood this. Maybe because as a child, my own father was not around to experience this concept. I watched in awe as I saw my daughter fascinated with her father or any male figure for that matter. She longed to be in the presence of a male.
This is not what I daydreamed of when the doctor said “it’s a girl” I immediately dreamt of me and my “mini me” going to lunch, having lengthy, bottomless, conversations, visiting the salon together; inseparable. Here is my daughter glazing into her father’s eyes, as if he carried her for nine months, experienced the waves of agony as the uterus expands to deliver life; her life. Not to mention, I’m still trying to lose the extra 15 pounds of baby weight.
The bond between a father and daughter is beautiful and amazing to watch. As I watched their interactions, it became clear her father is teaching his daughter how a man should treat her. Her father is fulfilling that natural yearning all little girls have; to be adored by their fathers.
One of the most interesting aspects of parenthood is that it makes the parent more self-aware. As I witnessed the relationship my daughter is building with her father, I couldn’t help but think of the relationship I had with my own father as a child.
As a child, it was not uncommon for the children in my school to come from single parent homes. In my mind, this was normal. As I think back to my teenage years, I recall longing to speak to a male figure daily. I had to hear a deep, male’s voice. I thought I was just boy crazy! In hindsight, I believe it was that desire to hear my father’s voice.
When I began dating, it was awkward for me. I did not know how to act around boys; I could not give a hug to the opposite sex without feeling bizarre. As I became an adult I made poor decisions regarding the male company I kept and was terrified of a relationship.
All these issues I believe, stem from not having a strong foundation with the first man in my life; my father. Yes, girls need their mothers. However, girls need their fathers as well. A girl learning how to develop a healthy relationship with the opposite sex is fundamental to her overall development and an important skill to learn.
Here are some tips to help the girls in your life grow in this area.
1. Recognize the Need for Her Father
It’s comical, I remember being in high school speaking with another classmate. We were discussing an article we read about a girl who expressed how tough it was not having a father. Me and my friends were laughing. We don’t have fathers in our life and we are just fine. We are not missing out on anything. How can you miss what you don’t have?
At that age, we had no idea what we needed. So, the first step is to recognize the need. Even if the child does not recognize the need immediately, they will at some point in life. Girls need to know they are loved by both parents. This helps aid in the child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. She needs to learn how to interact, how a boy is supposed to treat her on a date and in life. All these elements are important for her development. Ladies don’t lie to yourself by saying my daughter does not need her father.
2. Show your daughters how to be a lady
One of the best gifts a mother can give to a daughter is to teach her how to be a lady. Daughters look to their mothers for direction as to how a woman should act. Teach your daughter appropriate behavior around the opposite sex, how to properly resolve conflict, and how to respect others. Instill in your daughter they are the catch and not the hunter. Showing your daughters how to respect themselves, will in turn teach them how to require respect from the opposite sex. For example, implanting in your daughter that their male companion should not humiliate them in public; should respect their opinions, as well as boundaries. These valuable skills will instill self-esteem, self-respect and confidence in your daughter.
3. Show your daughters love
Love is one of the most powerful, basic, raw, human need. It is enormously important to give your daughters an abundance of love; especially our girls with absent fathers. Love is powerful, able to transform and break down many barriers. Showing your daughters love will enable her to feel protected, show her how to love others and contribute to her self-confidence. Practice telling your daughter daily “I love you”. Show your daughter you love her by freely giving out natural affection such as hugs and kisses. Teach your daughters what love looks like and what it does not look like. For example, love does not hit, love is not jealous, love does not have malicious intent.
4. Encourage your daughter to establish a relationship with her father if possible
Key word is if possible. There may be many reasons a father is absent. Absenteeism could be due to death, divorce, problems with substance abuse or incarceration. Never put your daughter in a situation where her physical or emotional welfare may be in danger. If for example the reason for the absence father is simply the parents split. Encourage the relationship however do not force it. Both parties must have an interest in cultivating the relationship. If not, it will fail.
For example, the relationship with my father and I was turbulent in my teenage and young adult years. I recall trying to build a relationship as a teenager with my father and feeling completely rejected. I experienced calling his home, leaving messages and waiting months for a return phone call. When I did receive a phone call, we would agree to spend time together. I recall some days waiting for him and he never showed. Rejection after rejection, I gave up trying and the relationship became null. For me, at that time the relationship was not possible.
5. Find a good male role model for your daughter
I have spoken with many women who had wonderful male role models in their lives. Positive male role models are beneficial to a young girl’s development. Look to see if you can encourage a male role model for your daughter. Some great places to look are her grandfathers, uncles, older siblings, stepfathers, a volunteer mentor, a trusted family friend, a trusted religious leader or member. The possibilities are endless. Here are some qualities you should look for in a possible male model for your daughter:
Someone who shares your values and understand the goal of the relationship
Someone who likes kids
Someone your daughter feels comfortable with
Someone who is trust worthy
Someone who has a desire or want to be the model for your daughter
I consider myself blessed that my children can build a relationship with their father. My daughter hopefully will not experience the pain of an absent father. A parent’s role is to ensure their children receive everything needed during childhood, so their children can become well rounded, productive citizens. This includes healthy relationships with both parents.
Written by: Rochella Neely,
an “open book”