our everyday life

How to Be a Good Dad to a Teenage Daughter

by Mackenzie Wright

If you thought the terrible twos gave you a run for your money, keep in mind that your daughter's terrible teen years can seem worse. It's not that teenagers are terrible, but your teen daughter is going through developmental, physical, social and hormonal changes during these years that can make dealing with her difficult. If you don't attune yourself to her needs, you can go through some troubled times.

Spend more time with your daughter. She may not seem to want you around when she's with her friends, but a Penn State University study published in the August 2012 issue of the "Child Development" journal indicates that teens who spend more time with their fathers have higher self-esteem. Make time for family meals, take her for a drive or a cup of coffee, or go see a movie once a week.

Call if you can't be there in person. If you don't live with your daughter, or if you're working late and won't get home in time to see her, you can still have a constant presence by getting in touch. Ask how her day went and be open to listening if she wants to talk.

Make your relationship with your daughter a priority. When you brush off your daughter and break promises because you have to work late, play golf or because a household chore comes up, you send the message that your daughter is not as important as the other items on your to-do list. The only way to show your child that you truly value her above all else is to put her first when you make promises or have responsibilities to her.

Hold back the criticism, whether it's to point out a pimple or to complain about a failed grade. Kids are already too aware of their faults and shortcomings -- and instead of motivating them, criticism just makes them feel unloved, notes the Family First Aid website. Rather than criticism, praise your daughter more often, and encourage her to view failures and mistakes as lessons learned.

Set fair expectations and guidelines for behavior, notes the KidsHealth website. For example, let your teen daughter know that you want her to achieve good grades, as well as expect her to follow your house rules regarding chores and curfews. Setting boundaries shows your child that you care for her, even if she's not always happy with your rules and expectations. When you set clear, rational, logical standards for acceptable behavior, teens are more likely to meet them. You should also establish fair and appropriate consequences for not exhibiting the appropriate behavior -- and always enforce those consequences. For example, if your daughter does not adhere to a curfew, take away a privilege, like use of her cellphone that weekend.

Treat your daughter the same way you treat your son. Employing double standards is a quick way to earn resentment. Just as you teach your son how to protect himself and keep himself out of trouble, you can speak to your daughter about the same issues.

Stay out of conflicts between mother and daughter. This doesn't mean you shouldn't do your job as a parent-- respond appropriately when your teen daughter breaks rules or pushes boundaries. But if mother and daughter are at odds, your involvement will seem like you are taking sides. Avoid putting yourself in this position.

Keep trying. Even if your daughter is withdrawn, argumentative or has behavioral issues, it's never to late to become a more actively involved parent and improve your relationship with your child.

Tip

  • Read books about adolescence to learn the kinds of changes your daughter is going through so you can understand her better.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images