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.

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