The importance of a girlâ€™s relationship with her dad has been written about ad nauseum â€“ there is no doubt that it is important to her well-being to have a strong, healthy bond. I think sometimes women get it, but men donâ€™t.
Itâ€™s not that dads donâ€™t love their daughters â€“ of course they do. Itâ€™s just that many men are less apt to show affection, especially as their daughters grow and become women.
I know that there is a real tendency for them to begin pulling back at that point, and I am not a psychologist so I wonâ€™t try to guess what all of the reasons are. I just know that it is the worst thing that a father can do â€“ cutting back on the physical touch because the little girl isnâ€™t little anymore.
Here are the things I would tell any man that wanted to ensure that his daughter grew into a confident, well-adjusted woman.
Acceptance is primary. She has to know that she is loved no matter what she does. Be that person that cheers her on and picks her up when she falls. There are enough critics in the world â€“ let someone else have that ugly job.
At some point she is going to develop and you may be uncomfortable with the idea that she is a woman. Get over yourself. She needs you to touch her, hug her, kiss her goodnight, brush her hair, and rub her back just like you always have.
Your daughter needs to know that she is beautiful and she needs to hear it from you. You want her to stay out of the backseat of her boyfriendâ€™s car? Make sure that you are feeding her ego with true love and admiration more than he is feeding her ego with what she wants to hear.
She is going to test her boundaries and she needs you to make sure that they donâ€™t change. She may roll her eyes at you, scream at you, or cry real tears but there are some things that you just need to stand firm on. It is a real relief to be able to stave off peer pressure with the statement, â€œI canâ€™t do that because my dad would kill me.â€
Pick your battles and give her as much freedom as you can to explore her own ideas in everything from fashion to music. Let her choose her clothing and experiment with hair color and makeup if she wants. She is learning who she is independently of you,Â and thatâ€™s important for her growth.
Be a Jerk
This may seem weird, but being a jerk to potential boyfriends is something that builds security. Donâ€™t be a huge jerk but ask him questions, require answers, and let him know that you are perfectly willing to break his legs if he was to hurt your daughter in any way. Your daughter will let all of her friends know how uncool you are. Revel in the notoriety.
Most of all, be available to her as much as you can, whether you live in the same house or not. Text her, call her, and take her calls whenever you can. Let her know she is a priority in your life and not an afterthought.
And if youâ€™re a step-dad?
Everything I just said is even more important.