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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fathers and Daughters: "Daddy's Little Girl" is All Grown Up Now

When your daughter was a young child, she might have been your precious "little girl," looking up at you with adoring eyes.  Maybe her first word was "da da," which moved you to tears.  But when your adoring daughter who was "daddy's little girl" becomes around 13, she's not a little girl any more.  And, you'll need to adjust to a change in your relationship.

Daddy's Little Girl

Father's Confusion and Sadness About a Change in the Father-Daughter Relationship
There are many fathers who feel confused and sad about the change in their relationship with their daughters when their daughters become teenagers.  Your daughter might have loved spending time with you engaging in sports or hobbies when she was younger.  But, often, when girls become teens, their focus changes and they prefer to spend time with their peers.  She also might not like to do the same things you used to do together any more.

"Daddy's Little Girl" is All Grown Up Now

It often comes as a surprise to fathers when their daughters go through this change.  For some girls, it's a gradual process.  For other girls, it can seem sudden.  If you're not prepared for this change and you try to treat your daughter as if she's still a younger child, you'll likely have problems in your relationship with her.

Fathers Often Find Their Daughter's Adolescence to Be Confusing

Tips For Fathers of Teenage Daughters:

Respect Your Daughter's Right to Her Own Views, Even If You Don't Necessarily Agree with Them
You're still the parent, but it's important that you keep the lines of communication open with your daughter.  It's also important that you listen to what she has to say with an open mind.  

Allow Your Daughter to Participate in the Decision-making Process
Adolescence is a time (for both girls and boys) when teens want more independence.  They might not necessarily be ready in terms of their emotional development for all the independence that they want.  As the adult, it's better to allow her to participate in the decision-making process, if possible, rather than dictating terms to her.

Don't Try to Continue Treating Your Daughter Like She's a Little Girl
This will backfire on you and might alienate your daughter.  Accept that she's not a young child any more, and try to remain flexible in your approach. There might be days, as your daughter comes to grips with all the changes she's going through on a physical, emotional and cognitive level, when she might behave like the "daddy's little girl" that you adore.  But this is all part of the change and it won't last.

Let Your Daughter Know That You're There For Her and Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Right now, you and her mother might be taking a backseat to your daughter's friends.  This is a normal part of teenage development.  Rather than trying to compete with her friends, which is a mistake that many parents make, let your daughter know that you're available to talk to her if she wants to talk.  Don't try to force it.

Find Other Ways to Bond With Your Daughter--When She's Ready
If you have established a good foundation in the father-daughter relationship as she was growing up, chances are that once she goes through this phase of adolescence, she'll want to re-establish her father-daughter relationship with you on a more mature level.  You can't force it.  But you might find other ways, when she is ready, to bond with her.

Even though your daughter's adolescence might feel like it sneaked up on you and caught you by surprise, recognize that you might have a blindspot because you want your daughter to remain young.  But it's inevitable, if all goes well, that your daughter will be independent of you one day.

Learning to let go is never easy, but you'll get through this period feeling a lot better if you maintain your sense of emotional balance as well as your sense of humor.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist. 

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or send me an email:

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