If a dad is uncomfortable asking what his daughter thinks about sex or religion or anything else for that matter, then he should ask what her friends think or what her friends are doing.That will give him an idea of what his daughter is up to.Fact: Teenage girls are twice as likely to stay in school if their fathers are involved in their lives. This interview by Emily Stimpson is reprinted with permission from the June 15, 2008 issue of Our Sunday Visitor. Fathers have a tremendous power over their daughters. His interactions with her set her up for how she’s going to relate to all other men and to God. If she learns to like her dad, and she can trust him, she’ll have a much easier time trusting her husband and trusting God.OSV: Whether fathers like it or not, what do their daughters expect from them? Meg Meeker: A daughter naturally wants to view her dad as a leader. That's not just the way it’s supposed to be; that’s the way it is. OSV: What do you think is the most common, albeit perhaps well-intentioned, mistake that most fathers make?OSV: In your book you stress the importance of fathers talking with their daughters about sex and about God -- two of the toughest topics for most dads to raise with their girls. Those messages can be communicated simply by sharing his thoughts on what he thinks is good, by saying things like, “It’s really important that you're not sexually active until you're married,” or “Boy, it’s beautiful when a woman waits.” That’s what a daughter wants to hear.Use simple language and ask very open-ended questions.And the little girl learns to trust the man in her life.And all the things that the world expects from women - to be beautiful, to soothe the troubled spirit, heal the sick, care for the dying, send the greeting card, bake the cake - allof those things become the way we pay the father back for protecting us...” ― Adriana Trigiani, “A wedding is for daughters and fathers.
Meeker: So many fathers think that if they set boundaries, establish curfews, even make their daughters do chores, that they will alienate their daughters. Girls who end up in trouble are not the girls whose dads are heavy on boundaries. The key, of course, is that the rules need to be balanced with fun and pleasure in the dad-daughter relationship.
Every conversation about a rule or a daughter’s behavior should be balanced by five parts pleasure and fun -- going to a movie, canoeing, talking about things besides rules.
OSV: But so many fathers are at a loss when it comes to talking with their daughters.
Meeker: Fathers dramatically underestimate the importance of themselves in their daughters’ lives.
They withdraw much too quickly, doubt their significance and influence, and grossly misunderstand how very much their daughters need and want to have a good relationship with them.
I've made it my business to observe fathers and daughters. Like the little girl who's not very cute - her teeth are funny, and her hair doesn't grow right, and she's got on thick glasses - but her father holds her hand and walks with her like she's a tiny angel that no one can touch.