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5-Tips to communicating with your teen daughter that can support healthy development and change your relationship forever.
1-LISTEN: actively listen-do not tune her out even if you know she’s wrong. Then engage in calm discussions frequently. Not only will you become more comfortable handling sensitive issues, the two of you will establish your own relationship outside of the one she has with mom. Daughters are often more comfortable talking to mom when they are upset. However if you don’t jump in some times, continuation of this practice will enlarge the distance between the two of you as she grows older, prevents her from learning who her dad really is a person and developing realistic ideas about men in general. WARNING do not call her names or talk to her in a way you do not want her to accept from another male-if you do-she will. Your actions set valuable patterns.
2-VALIDATE: When your daughter asks your opinion or is otherwise ranting about something she is concerned about- remember when you respond, first say something like “OK what I hear you saying is………” even if she seems over emotional. Don’t let the tears deter you…you can do it. Repeating what you think she is trying is VERY IMPORTANT. It helps her to know she is important to you, and that you are truly interested in what she has to say or is feeling. Again, your interactions with her set valuable patterns that will impact the way she looks at and chooses a mate.
3-COMPLIMENT: Boost her esteem and self-motivation by acknowledging her beauty and intellect verbally and frequently. It’s often easy for dads to compliment their daughters physical characteristics but what they don’t know is the extent to which complimenting and giving attention to her intellectual strengths and accomplishments impact her developing self esteem and motivation. Spend time talking about her academic goals, authors she likes, what she finds most interesting and remember to share some of your likes, dislikes, failures and successes. Again, it is important as she moves through adolescence that she begin to see her “hero” as a human being capable of mistakes and frailties–I call 2nd phase of the father/daughter dual life cycle “Hero to Human”.
4-CONNECT: Even if she pushes your buttons-and she WILL- remain emotionally connected NEVER reject her! The key is to remember, ALL of your interactions with her sets an important pattern she will use in her male/female relationships as an adult woman. For example-She raises her voice and disagrees with you or your opinion -you in turn elevate your voice even louder then walk away, sending the message that what she says isn’t important. It also says, men who love you also reject you when you disagree with them. As I’ve said before..it ain’t easy dad but you can do it. Ask her to lower her voice when she speaks to you if she wants to continue having a conversation. Once you establish that you will not engage in heated arguments with her, then calmly tell her to explain her position. This sends the message that men who love you will demand respect but are also interested in engaging in conversations about what concerns you.
5-INTERACT: This is a time where she will push for privacy-plan activities together-it’s also a time when she needs you to model appropriate/acceptable/healthy male behavior. It’s important to set parameters, rules and guidelines that allow for her growing sense of Independence and need to explore and learn about herself and the world she lives in. Equally as important, is the time you spend exploring the world with her- take her on a father-daughter date, open the theater door for her, ask her what she wants from the menu, take her bike riding and talk about safety, teach her how to change a tire or repair a faucet…empowering her empowers your relationship.
Download my "Father's Guide to raising daughters"
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