3 Things Little Girls Need from Their Fathers
Joyce McFadden’s wirting in The Huffington Post:
“A little girl needs her father’s support in her unfolding sexual development because it helps secure three hugely important facets of how she’ll see herself in the world throughout her life. You’ll influence her level of personal confidence, her body comfort and pride, and you’ll set her expectations for the way she should be treated by boys and men.
Even though fathers only want the best for their daughters, when asked to contemplate the idea that they should play an active role in guiding their daughters as they transition from little girl, to girl, to young woman, they squirm. They wince. They slam their eyes shut in an effort to make it stop. They say, “Go ask your mother.”
This is exactly the kind of response I’m going to ask fathers to reconsider, because your daughters really do need you.
Whether we’re talking about the idea of teaching your toddler the accurate names for her body parts during bath time, educating your 8-year-old about menstruation or discussing sexual behavior as your teenager is getting ready for a date, dodging, squirming and wincing aren’t reactions that are going to help your daughter feel comfortable in her own skin or confident about who she is.
Parents don’t wince over things they’re proud of or happy about in their kids, and even our youngest daughters understand this. When we’re proud of them and happy for them, we beam. We smile. We tear up. So, when you reveal your discomfort with your daughter’s sexuality, you’re unintentionally teaching her it’s either something to be afraid of or something to be disdained. You’ll also be directly or indirectly teaching her you don’t want to be involved in knowing that part of her, and that will probably create distance in your relationship. None of this will enhance her self-esteem or her ability to believe you love her unconditionally.
In both my clinical practice and my private life, whenever men share their fears for their daughters’ sexuality, it tends to go something like this: “I’m going to put her in a convent because I know what guys are like.” But if the problem is that fathers know what guys are like, the solution isn’t to make our daughters pay the price by sequestering them. The solution is to raise our sons to respect girls and women.”
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