Being the father of a teenage girl can be hard on our pride.
We may not instinctively know what our daughters are trying to tell us. We may feel disrespected by how they communicate.
When my daughters were teenagers, we had emotionally charged conversations that sometimes resulted in one of them angrily and emotionally (or actually) slamming a door on me. Sometimes, my feelings got hurt and my reaction was, “OK, if you’re gonna be like that, I’ll blow you off, too!”
Fortunately, my wife (a former teen girl herself -- and thus a valuable source of information) assured me that such eruptions are normal for adolescent girls as they try to discover and hang on to who they are. My girls needed to have me hear them out, and they also needed to find safe ways to push away from me.
My job was not to drown in my wounded pride and say, “I’ll show you; I’m taking my marbles and going home.” Instead, it was to remain outside that slammed door so that when my daughters eventually emerged from their explosions and snits (which they always did), they knew that I was still there and still loved them.
It is tough to stand there waiting and to open yourself back up when your feelings might once again be hurt. After all, if your daughter is a teenager, there are surely more slammed doors in your future. But it is worth it.
A daughter needs us to acknowledge and affirm what she feels and goes through. She may think, “If Dad doesn’t hear what I’m feeling, maybe what I’m feeling and what I’m going through is not important.”
But her experiences are important.
We must show her that you believe this; and never belittle or dismiss her or her world. In other words, we have to trust her. When we trust what our daughter feels, she learns to trust herself now and later in life.
Adapted from my book Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter.