Fathers with teen daughters often lead a precarious and complicated life. Developmentally speaking, teenage daughters are often caught up in insecurities that can even be debilitating. While dad may be a safe zone that is less complex than a mother-daughter dynamic, he does not get a free pass. There are some complicated scenarios that he may find himself involved in, such as explaining the general stupidity of boys her age, consoling her when her friends act like enemies and doing typical dad stuff like teaching her how to maintain a car or shopping for colleges.
Paying a compliment to a girl this age can be tricky for dads. It’s natural to want to build them up and tell them they are loved and valued if they are feeling down, but dads quickly find that misplayed compliments make self-conscious girls feel worse.
Think before you speak
Actions can speak louder than words, but the words a dad picks are important:
- Make them feel valuable: Ask their opinion on things and compliment them on all parts of their personality.
- Physical compliments must be specific: Say things like her dress brings out the color or their eyes, or a new haircut lets you better see their face. Focus on function instead of form, such as when training has had a positive impact on their running.
- Avoid mentioning weight: This can feed into their insecurities on many levels.
- Be honest: Honesty is the best policy and likely will help if they question (as teens do) the validity of the comment.
Fathers have a tendency to pull back as a daughter matures, which can leave the child feeling alienated and confused. Child psychology experts recommend that dads continue to hug, put an arm around them and treat them like your little girl. If it feels weird, lighten it up by asking permission to hug them.
Parenting after divorce
Parenting moments can happen at any time and can ideally lead to a positive outcome. In light of a divorce, the changing family dynamic and limited time together may heighten the time a father spends with a daughter. Parents can strive to do their best, and hopefully, that will be the solution for building on the relationship that is already a strong one. Perhaps it even will expand it in positive ways that might not otherwise have happened.