Tuesday, June 22, 2010


"The Maoris called him Mera, their attempt at his name Melville.
He was my best friend for much of my life, and I think he was the reason why I have had such great good luck with men.
When I was six and seven Mera danced with me, every night after he'd come home from work. . . 'Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland'. . . - these tunes he whistled or sang. I rode on his boots, as he whirled out into the hall or reversed into the kitchen, where he pretended to be immovably stuck between the sink and a tall cupboard known as the press.
His redhaired child, her arms around his hips and her face pressed into his middle, breathed with joy the cherished odour of her father, tobacco, shaving soap, petrol, timber sap, and perhaps a stinging whiff of gunpowder from the cartridge case in his pocket. . . .
Mera was also naturally a good father, . . .This was probably because his father also was a strong, humorous, loving man, a Paisley Scotsman."

I have enjoyed starting into the first book of Ruth Park's autobiography, "A Fence Around the Cuckoo", this past week while briefly in hospital. Thankfully, the metal put into my wrist three months ago, has now been removed and I'm eagerly looking forward to my right arm being a usable appendage again.

Finding this quote though was a bonus to start this post on ~ 'What do Daughters Need from Their Dad?'

Here Ruth Park describes a usual occurrence in the average home of past generations. Hasn't family life changed! Haven't people changed! Or have they?

It seems that either consciously or subconsciously the traditional role of a girl looking to or wishing her dad to be her protector, guardian, problem solver and guide is still the case today. Numbers of research studies show that it is DAD'S approval, affirming words and love, that is the determiner of whether a girl will grow into a well-adjusted, successful and happy adult, or not.

"When a girl reaches adolescence, she looks to her father for approval and love. If he is not available to her, she will look to some other male to fill the gap. There is something in masculine affirmation that female affirmation does not contain." says Ian Grant 'Fathers Who Dare Win'

It is all too common for dads to feel awkward toward their daughters once they change from girls and move through adolescence and become adult women. Some don't feel comfortable with their daughter's new sexuality and become distant. This changed behaviour can be read by the girl as disapproval. Early adolescence is the moment girls really need dad, and this is the moment many step back.

It has been found that dads and daughters do less together than dads and sons, mums and daughters and mums and sons.

Fathers influence and affect how their daughters view drugs, alcohol, sex, and future intimate relationships, their body development, anxiety, moodiness, their future lifestyle, academic success, stable emotional futures, in fact they affect how their daughters see themselves as females.

Joe Kelly in 'Dads and Daughters : How To Inspire, Understand and Support Your Daughter When She's Growing Up So Fast' , says, "A girl whose father listens and respects her will expect her (future) partner to listen to her and treat her well." Why? Because this is how she learns to view herself through childhood, teenage years and beyond so she 'automatically' looks for boys and men who treat her likewise. If however she has received the reverse treatment from dad, she is likely to gravitate toward harmful, bad relationships with men, often because this is what she believes she deserves in life.

Another interesting fact daughters pick up about how they should be treated, is from how their fathers speak to and treat other females, especially their daughter's mother. If fathers short-change, ignore or are negative to mums, this "puts distance between your girl and you", says Wayne Parker in 'Top 10 Ways To Stay Close To Your Daughter As She Grows Up'.

Joe Kelly says that fathers have a problem, in that when they don't know what to do, such as how to get closer to their daughter, they often do nothing. This is especially so if they have no one they can ask advice from. They look around and see most other dads are like them, not doing too well with their daughters. Most dads then conclude that mum is better to do the parenting. This decision is cemented in place in their mind as they don't have a close and open relationship with their own father, to ask his advice. The action they do take is to worry about their daughter because they are not doing enough for them, and don't understand them or know them deeply.

So what specifically are dads to do? What partically do daughters need from dads?
From the varied authors, bloggers and researches I've read, there are 4 headings their suggestions can be lumped under.

Hold her hand, rough up her hair, brush her hair, hug her, cuddle her, hold her, tickle her, kiss
her, rough and tumble or wrestle her, even tough play is suggested.
If this all is too intimidating for dad, play a game or sport with her which may feed into natural
healthy physical contact with her.
Girls need to FEEL dad's love, not just HEAR about it.
Dad needs to show he is interested in whatever is important to his daughter. He needs to
watch her and note what she is striving for, deeply interested in, going for... He needs to aim
for what she regards as important, and demonstrate to her the same respect and honour as
dad expects her to show to the things dad holds as important.
If sport is important to her, dad should watch her train and take her to the competitions.
If he is ignorant about how the game works, research it and ask questions so that he can
understand what's going on for her and talk together about it.
If doing well in particular areas of study is important to her, dad can find out what she's
working on at the moment and ask how she's going. Asking, opens doors: Directing, closes
them. If she asks for help or dads opinion, that's a compliment, she's enjoying dad's company.
If what is important to her is way off in a different direction to dad, then he has a challenge to
find something in her interests to share in with her. This may be irksome but what IS
important here? It's really like going for a job interview when the important thing is to GET
a job, as opposed to quibbling about whether it offers sufficient future prestige. Dads need to
be courageous and go outside their comfort zone and make the connection with their
By the time a girl reaches ten, friendships take an increasingly important place in a girl's life
and the influence friends have on her can be astounding. So dad needs to get to know these
friends, encouraging them to visit, welcome them, giving them time and attention, listening
and chatting. Often the case is that they will all grow to adore and want to adopt their friend's
dad for their own, wishing their own father showed them such interest.
The important events in a girl's life are times dad must be there for her. It may be her
university graduation is hugely important to her, or it could be she feels no need to even
attend the ceremony. It could be that dad needs to anticipate her thoughts here.
This is the point that makes or breaks a dad-daughter relationship. Point 3 is all about building
a firm and strong dad-daughter relationship.
Many writers advocate dads starting a ritual - weekly, monthly... Where just dad and
daughter have time together. Dessert and coffee, ice cream out or a run on the beach, or add
a special dad-daughter time to a routine that is already established. Visit the park or stop for
hot chips on the way home after the game. Have fun together, laugh, listen, chat, relax, be
natural - give her time, and show her as her dad you are willing and happy to spend this time
with her. You are thankful you are HER dad. Compliment her on what she is good at or where
she is working hard. This causes a girl to feel valued, special, important, loved and reassured.
Daughters need to FEEL these qualities to know or receive them. Regularity in getting to this
depth of heart-closeness between dad and daughter is essential. As the relationship blossoms
daughters feel secure to trust dad because he trusts her. She will start to share her heart, her
deep thoughts, the real things that bother her. Remember daughters are looking to dad to be
there for them - a protector, guardian, problem solver, guide... But for dad to get the
opportunity to do this, he must speak little with advice, comments and judgements and instead
major on building that strong relationship where his daughter feels secure, listened to and is
confident in her dad's good opinion of her.
Increasingly as daughters grow up they require that signal loud - and - clear from dad, that he
trusts them, is confident in their choices and decisions.
A World Health Organization website states that dads look at problems and want to give the
answer, but they need to "think, what's the feeling?" and then they can deal more positively
with their daughters.
When she does something stupid, which involves a big problem or is seriously let down and
troubled, she doesn't need a ranting and raving father who is unapproachable - all that has
been built between them can be demolished in one night. Instead she needs her dad - a man
who wants to protect her and help her to responsibly solve the problem and maturely move
along. On such occasions she emerges from the mess, certain of her father's commitment and
love toward her. The trust and respect dad gives her here will be remembered and
transferred into other areas of her life later.
Dads need to make and keep promises. This is the only way daughters can learn to trust dad
and think of him as trustworthy.
Communication between dad and daughter on those weekly/monthly together times, can
easily fulfil this point. Dad can talk with any aged daughter about events happening
internationally, asking her what she thinks about the situation and giving her a bigger picture
to consider.
He can also talk to his teenage daughter about relationships with boys ~
~ giving her skills on how to read boys who are just being kind as opposed to ones who
give much more attention to her.
~ how to be polite and keep a friendship with a boy simple.
~ how to be aware and deal with boys who want a deeper friendship.
~ how a girl's behaviour is interpreted by boys.
~ help to have the confidence to clearly say NO to a deeper friendship with boys.
~ what words to actually say to communicate that to boys.
~ how to physically defend herself.
It is from dad that daughters learn how to be affectionate with men and the fact that men and
women can negotiate fairly. It is dad who demonstrates what she will probably live out in her
future relationships with males.
Dad need to also have a growing understanding of his daughter's goals, hopes and dreams.
Some girls are not aware of what their own dreams are, so dad needs to watch, listen and
pickup from what she says, helping her find possible goals for the future, and through
conversation, growing a bigger, clearer picture of them. A daughter may ask her dad "What
am I good at? What can I do well?".... dads need to be ready to genuinely pickup these
opportunities, turning the conversation into one of those great, life memory moments for his
daughter and himself.
John Nolan on a website he calls 'Dad's Uni. Strengthening the Next Generation', offers 52 Tips for Fathers, many of which look great.

The dad/daughter relationship brings out the best in both people, softening the edges of fathers and providing strength and security for their daughters.

Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, picked up on this when he said, "Fathers and daughters need each other. A dad can give a daughter special confidence and sense of her own value in a very special way. A strong father/daughter bond helps a daughter navigate through the many tough challenges of the teenage years and early adulthood."

Rudd's comment about fathers and daughters needing each other, hints at interesting connections research has found between dads and daughters.

It has been 'discovered' that girls who have close, positive relationships with their dad, enter puberty at a later age. In contrast girls raised in fatherless, dysfunctional fathered families, unhappy step-fathered families or families where mum has a series of boyfriends, these girls entered puberty at an earlier age. The reason given "is that a girl who lives with her biological father in a positive environment is exposed to (her dad's) pheromones (chemical substances that exude an aroma which is a sexual stimulant), and is inhibited" in her physical development.

A second find is that 14 year old girls who are not close to their dad's, have a higher incidents of depression than girls with close relationships with their dads. Testing with 18 year old girls and their dads revealed that they both displayed the same tendency of emotions - if dad was depressed then his daughter was depressed. This connection was not evident in dad/son, mum/daughter or mum/son relationships.

As a concluding sentence of this research stated ". . .a good predictor of an adolescent girl's mental health is her relationship with her father."

So THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ the daughters are ALL yours, dad.

Friday, June 11, 2010


"My mother never stops giving me advice. She tells me how to clean my house, how to raise my children, what I should do in my job, how to treat my ex-husband, how to take care of my cats. The list goes on. She never quits. And then she always follows up asking for a report about whether I did what she told me to do. I take a lot of her advice, but if I don't do what she wants, she gets mad. I hate it, but I don't know what to do about it. She calls me every day and talks forever. She treats me like I'm eight years old, but I passed eight a long time ago."
"Controlling Mothers: Cutting the Apron Strings" : Greg Baer

Controlling Mums. Mums who are totally involved in their children's lives whether the child is 4 or 64. It seems some controlling Mums are 'born' that way, while others take on the role.

The very fact that she gave birth and raised her children is reason and right enough in a controlling mother's thinking, to have a say in their life, right through and into adulthood. She thinks of it as well meaning, in the child's best interest, an aspect of her loving her child. But it can be read by others as interference, behaviour which is controlling the child's life.

Evidence of mothers being controllers can be seen in the lives of preschool children , where mums speak for their children, convincing them they would really prefer . . . . . , or bribing them to behave or do certain things that mum wants them to do. Even under five year old children must have freedom of choice to think as they wish . . . followed by experiencing the proper consequences of their choices, so they learn to live in reality.

School-aged children can be controlled by their mums, by being continually 'reminded' or instructed in what they are to do or say. The internet is a huge problem area for controlling mums. To cope some check-up on the children's emails or facebook entries. This is a clear case where in their mind, mums think they are acting in their child's best interests, but in truth they are controlling. If a child is old enough to communicate in these forms, a parent needs to trust them to independently go about it. (Please refer back to my earlier post WEEK 6 QUOTE 6 on learning to trust our children)

For young adults and adult children , a controlling mum still sees her input as necessary, particularly in areas of decision making. She may select and buy most of the clothes for the grandchildren, choose what courses are to be studied, the direction of their future career and which jobs should and shouldn't be applied for. Finance is another area controlling mums want to have a say.

The famous expression "helicopter moms" helps us to understand what some controlling mums are like. "A helicopter mom is a mom who hovers over every state in her child's development, from . . . in utero, through the college years and beyond," said Helen Johnson says, "they ultimately set their children up for a fall in adulthood. . . . In taking over, they send out a profound message : You are not capable of handling your life." Johnson said.

Why do controlling mothers do this? A lot of what I've read gives the same reasons.
~ they operate on how they feel
~ they may be now suffering from empty nest syndrome
~ they are unhappy in their own relationships within the family
~ they are more interested in what they want as opposed to knowing what the child wants
~ they don't feel enough love in their own lives - described as insecure, needy and empty people
Ross Campbell would say their emotional tank is low or empty and while it remains empty
their behaviour can not change
~ they confuse the sense of power they feel over their child, as acceptance by the child and this
temporarily fills their need for being loved
~ they often are perfectionists who want, some even drive their children to "be the best"
Here is some more information about controlling mothers.
* They take the success or failure of their children personally.
* They can have the habit of arriving late to events so as to control when the party starts.
* They rearrange, re-organize, change the plans or rewrite the work done by others, so it is
exactly as they want it to be.
* They can participate in 'one upping', out doing who they know over who you know. Put
themselves as the best, hardest worker, longest stayer. . . This indicates their personal
insecurity and at the same time making themselves the focus of attention.
* Within the family, controlling mums can have favourites. Those who are not favourites are
usually in this position because they will not be controlled. They have 'broken away'. Because
a controlling mum can not get co operation or obedience from this child, she regularly moves
to controlling tactics, consciously or subconsciously, in an attempt to gain control. A common
example is to publicly embarrass or emotionally hurt the child in their presence, as the cont-
rolling mum converses with others. These conversations can be with total strangers, it
doesn't matter because the objective is to get the child to conform to mum. On the other hand
favourites obey.
* In an attempt to have control, controlling mums can work at keeping children in the family
separated from each other, aiding disharmony between them. If they are all in strong,
favourable friendships, her control over their lives is lessened.
* The family of the favourite child, is given more space in the controlling mum's life, simply
because they will co operate. And the non favourites . . . .
* a CHECKLIST from "If you Had Controlling Parents : How to Make Peace with Your Past
and Take Your Place in the World" by Dr Dan Neuharth
In raising children, you . . .
1. micromanage their eating, appearance, hobbies or social life.
2. give affection as a reward but withdraw it as a punishment.
3. criticise your children far more than you praise them.
4. violate your child's privacy.
5. override, discount or ridicule your child's strong emotions.
6. forbid your child from asking questions or disagreeing with you.
7. are unwilling to admit your mistakes in parenting.
8. believe that you own your children and that they have to earn your love.
9. see your children's desires for independence and autonomy as a personal rejection.
10. inflict physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse on your children.

Controlled children feel trapped, 'imprisoned', under obligation to stay in this role with their mum. In staying in this state, they think they are being kind, loving and respectful toward mum. They feel they can never measure up to mum's expectations, so think themselves a failure. They lack compassion for themselves. To them it is more important to be right than to be curious
or take a risk. As time goes on, some children begin to feel resentment toward their mother. They can then behave in utter rudeness, attempting to separate themselves from mum. This can result in cutting communications off with mum, temporarily or permanently. Controlled children find family gatherings difficult, because of the unpredictability's of possible differences of opinion. Adults with a controlled background have few deep or meaningful friendships with people outside the family.

As you read, are there a significant number of points ringing in your head? Do you think you are a controlling mum?

As I said in last week's post WEEK 14 QUOTE 14 on Absent Dads, you can know all the information about why you must change but still choose to do nothing. So how can a controlling mother be persuaded, encouraged, coerced or confronted so that she will change?

Well, a lot of what appears on internet on this subject states that controlling mums can not be changed, and precedes to give volumes of advice to controlled children. Advice such as "forget the looser", "cut off all communications with her", "be strong and start again, don't even think about her" . . . . For a lot of controlled children looking for advice, this is what they will find.

However, I personally don't agree with the idea that controlling mums can't change. There are some helpful action plans for controlling mums on Catholic websites. But the real help I think is by looking and choosing to follow the recovery steps laid down by groups such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and drug and smoking rehabilitation groups. They all say a similar thing which I'm applying below to controlling mums.
1. Firstly you need to see and admit you ARE a controlling mum.
2. You must decide that you WANT to change.
3. You need to admit that you can't do it on your own, because being controlling is your nature.
4. You need help from outside yourself - AA say "from a higher authority", or maybe a counsellor..
5. You need to get involved, start a program of recovery.
6. You need to commit to seeing it through with someone else who will honestly give you feedback on how you are doing.

Mums need to be nurturers, not controllers. As the kids grow up mums need to be on the same level as them, developing creative, trusting relationships with each of their children.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS, for their sake, 'if the hat fits', take the steps you need to.

If you want some help for your children, get them to look at this site.
www. controllingparents.com/exceerpt.htm
Maybe Dr Dan Neuharth's book could be a help to them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


"Today's world desperately needs men who are not just generous at conception; it needs committed men who are generous in the fathering of their offspring; not just baby makers, but creative dads who will hang in there with the kids through the good times and the tough times. . . . . . . .
History very rarely records a businessman on his deathbed wishing he had spent more time at the office! The usual dying wish is that he had spent more time with his family. Despite this, it is amazing how many men let the unique opportunity to be a mentor and friend to their children slip by."
Ian Grant: Author's Introduction "Fathers Who Dare to Win"

Absent dads. For many families this is fact - dad is simply never there or never was there!

Jay Payleitner in his book "52 Things Kids Need from a Dad", says in his first chapter "Eighty-five percent of all youth in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. . . . Fatherless boys and girls are twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail, four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioural problems. Seventy-five percent of all adolescent patients in chemical-abuse centers come from fatherless homes. . . . If father absence is devastating, leading to all kinds of bad decisions and societal ills, then father presence is the solution, right?. . . . . The media, school administrators, . . . . seem to say fathers don't matter. Or they've given up on fathers. Or worse, we're told fathers are part of the problem. The result is, men are driven away from their families, fathers are disenfranchised, and dads are afraid to hug their own kids. . . . Men need to hear, 'Dad, you matter!' 'Your children need you'. . . . "

William Leith, who writes for the Daily Mail, in an article titled, "Why Do My Son's Books Tell Him all Men are Useless" (02.06.09) , says, "A recent academic study confirmed that men - particularly fathers - are under represented in almost all children's books. And when they do appear, like the fathers in "Gorilla" and "Zoo", they are often withdrawn, or obsessed with themselves, or just utterly ineffectual." Leith then goes on to mention, "hopeless Homer Simpson and his dangerous son Bart, and the attempts of the female characters in the family to clean up after them." He further adds, that most of the Mr Men book characters are "deeply inadequate". He says, "Something has been happening to the way we portray men . . . . does this mean that there is something wrong with the way we portray men? Or - more seriously - is there some deep trouble with men themselves? I can't bear to have that thought. Can you?"

If your searching for more to add to the pile, you could consider movies such as "ET" with the absent Dad, who tells his kids too much inappropriate information about his relationships elsewhere, or even lovable, wacky, self-obsessed Steve Martin as dad to twelve kids in the "Cheaper by the Dozen" movies.

Is this part of the reason dads are absent from their kids lives? Have they been told too often how hopeless and useless they are, so they've given up? Maybe it has contributed to the issue of dad's absence from the family, but it certainly is not the whole reason for their absence.

Dad could be absent because he's always at the office, or lifting weights at the gym morning and night, or socialising with the mates, or overly committed to boards and meetings, or pouring himself into creating that musical smash hit with the band. . . . But then there are dads who regularly are on the property physically, but are not involved with the lives of their children. Some of these fathers are totally unaware they are disconnected from their children, while others intentionally make a decision to be just that. These are the men who are addicted to the computer screen, are arm-chair sportsmen, garage dwelling hobbyists, are constantly working on the next home or garden improvement. . . . The activities are not the problem, it is the priority given to them, which is the start of the problem, and that priority is decided on by dad himself.

Wikipedia describes the role or relationship of a father with his child, as "fatherhood". It tells us that the more fathers are involved with their children, the higher their success will be academically, the greater their "cognitive development and problem solving skills will be." Conversely those raised with dad not around , "think of themselves as being less cognitively and physically competent than children raised with a father present."

Some writers try to enthuse dads into action, by talking of fatherhood somewhat like a game. Describing the great feel of success, "victory", "winning" as they go about fathering in a particular style. I am sure these feelings are rewarding for dads but to make that into a motive to father, is heading into the area of self - Dad feeling good! Dad looking good! Dad seen as the success!

This is NOT the principle aim of fathering.

Over recent weeks I've been reading about New Zealand native and introduced birds with one of my children. In the bird world, some varieties have fathers who are involvement with their young from the start, with nest building right through to flight lessons. Other varieties have fathers that figure in none of it. The thing that I repeatedly found was that the whole process was about rearing the next generation, not about the dad or the mum.

The final sentence of this week's quote ends with "Despite this. . ." - even though dads can know what they should do or need to do and have evidence of statistics to encourage them to change, they still may not choose to. Maybe for some dads it's because they simply do not know how to be a father or lack the confidence to make changes and become a dad who is around, developing healthy communications and relationships with each of his children.

So how can dads be persuaded, encouraged, coerced or confronted in their need to be there for the kids?

Three points that could help.
1. You as a father affect the world. Smile away, but it is true. As your children grow up they affect the schools, sporting clubs, artistic groups... they belong to. Later they affect the university they attend and the people at their work place - in positive ways or negative. Who and what your children are, is affected by who their Dad is and whether he has been part of their life or absent from it. You are affecting an ever increasing number of people.
2. You as a father affect the future. At some point your children will possibly have children, and they will have children and so on. The fathering style you give your children now doesn't just influence their lives, but is passed on into future generations. Is your conscience easy with what you are giving to your future generations?
3. You as a father affect YOUR future. How you treat your children today affects how they one day will treat YOU. Read the words of the song "Cats in the Cradle" or Google it and listen to it sung.
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

CHORUS And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin' home dad
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned 10 just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do," he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"


Well he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"


I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to Dad, if I could find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you."

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me.


"It doesn't seem to matter what job a dad has or how much money a dad makes....what his interests and skills are....whether a father is very physically affectionate or loves more quietly as long as the kids know that he most certainly cares about them. What matters is for fathers to be committed to their children and involved with them over time. When fathers take that responsibility seriously, their children are more likely to do well and the fathers have few regrets."
What's a Dad Supposed to Do? : MarieHartwell-Walker.

Dad, THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS choose to be the father your kids need you to be.