Fathers and daughters often share a bond unlike any other relationship. Most fathers feel protective --particularly of their teen daughters-- and most teen daughters feel safer because of this protectiveness. Unfortunately, many fathers have difficulty communicating with their teen daughter because of gender, age and experiential differences. However, there are things a father can do to help bridge the communication gap and become better at talking to his teen daughter.
Understand Her World
A teenage daughter's life can be filled with drama, pressure and change. By making an effort to understand your daughter's perspectives, you open lines of communication. This also means learning about and being able to discuss topics that may be uncomfortable for you, such as her change from little girl into young womanhood. Although some topics can be awkward, by approaching with questions and listening to her concerns with respect, you increase her trust, which in turn can make future discussions easier.
Like many teens, your daughter may be self-conscious. Criticism can unwittingly tap into that self-consciousness and destroy any chance of successfully talking to her. Criticism often extends beyond direct criticism to include being dismissive or critical of those she cares about, particularly her mom, writes Ali Goldfield, a licensed therapist in Ottawa, Canada. Fathers who are overly critical risk pushing their daughters to other sources of affirmation -- including other men. A father can be more helpful in asking questions that encourage reflection and discussion.
Spending father-daughter time together will help facilitate discussions and show your daughter that you care about your relationship with her. Allowing her to pick activities to do together -- whether it be lunch together or a movie night or a simple walk -- will further demonstrate you value her input, helping make talking to your daughter even easier. In addition, spending time together increases common interests, which in turn creates even further opportunities to talk with her.
Reinforce Your Relationship
Your relationship should not be one-dimensional. You want to provide time for her, but also give her privacy, keep promises and demonstrate affection. Allowing privacy shows respect, which opens communication. Keeping promises proves that you can be trusted, which increases her confidence in talking to you. Displaying affection with hugs, a kiss on the cheek or even a pat on the back reaffirms your love, which is arguably the greatest step toward making it easier to talk to your teen daughter.
- Therapy Stew: Everything You Wanted to know about Psychology But Were Afraid to Ask: 10 Tips On How Dads Can Stay Connected To Their Teenage Daughters
- The challenge of fathering an adolescent daughter. How gender differences can complicate fathering an adolescent daughter.
- Better Health Channel: Communicating with teenagers.
- Between Fathers and Daughters: Enriching and Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship: Linda Nielsen
- Father to Daughter, Revised Edition: Life Lessons on Raising a Girl; Melissa Harrison and Harry H. Harrison Jr.
- Father-Daughter Communication: Relationship Maintenance, Attachment Styles, Interpersonal Communication Motives, and Satisfaction; Narissra Punyanunt-Carter
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images