**This article is part of our August and September 2018 Guest Blog series. During a particular intense ‘sandwich generation’ season (launching my daughter to college and my son to high school, helping my parents move to Atlanta, and tackling a major research deadline), I am taking this opportunity to introduce my readers to the insight of some key partners. Enjoy!**
The relationship between father and daughter can be a beautiful thing. But it can also be a bit fragile. Once she hits adolescence, a dad faces the harsh reality that his daughter is no longer “daddy’s little girl.”
While she used to crawl up on his lap and hang on his every word, she now seems distant. While she used to think his jokes were hilarious, now they are an embarrassment.
During the teen years, a girl still needs her dad…perhaps more than ever. But the old man has to work extra hard and to stay involved in her life. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Ask about her music.
Most teenagers have an almost emotional bond with the music they love. When you take a sincere interest in her music, you are taking a sincere interest in her. When she is enjoying a song, get her to share one of her ear buds with you and ask about it.
2. Take her shopping.
This one comes with a price, but it is well worth it. Ask what she needs for her closet and give her a budget. Promise to buy her something, but with the caveat that you have to go along. As you shop, look for opportunities to affirm how she looks.
3. Speak her love language.
Author Gary Chapman suggests that people speak and hear love in one of five languages: quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, gift-giving, or physical touch. Figure out what your daughter’s love language is and speak it regularly.
4. Give her a ride.
Shoulder-to-shoulder time in the car is perhaps the best time to talk and connect. You don’t have to look at each other, but you still have a captive audience. Encourage her to put down her phone and then let her drive the conversation. Ask questions if you must, but then be sure to….
5. Shut up and listen.
Too many father/daughter conversations move quickly into a lecture from dad…and then the dad wonders why his daughter won’t talk to him. Perhaps the greatest gift you can give your teen daughter is a listening ear. Learn to listen without judgment or advice. If you don’t know how to respond to something heavy, just say, “I’m so glad you shared that with me. It means a lot that you trust me with it.”
At I.N.F.O. for Families, we have been committed to helping “Imperfect & Normal Families” like yours for more than a decade. Like you, we are parents who want to give our kids tools that will help them navigate our rapidly changing world.
“Meet Me in the Middle (10 Conversations that Fathers and Daughters Need to Have)” is a brand new book we wrote to tee up critical conversations between teenage girls and their fathers. It is a solution for all the dads out there who want to keep pouring life and love and God’s perspective into their daughters, even during a season when their relationship can be a bit awkward.
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Find Rest: A Women’s Devotional for Lasting Peace in Busy Life, focuses on a journey to rest even with life’s constant demands.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.