by Laurie Hollman, Ph.D.
Girls seem a bit foreign to most new dads, but with these tips, you can form a special bond that will last a lifetime. Dads and daughters are a unique pair. Daughters look up to you as their top guy, so it’s important to form this precious bond early and maintain it throughout her stages of childhood.
You may not carry your growing baby inside your body, but you sure do carry her inside your mind. The prospect of being a father to a daughter may seem daunting at first because you have a second sense about being with a boy, but girls seem a bit foreign to most guys. But all an infant girl needs is your special voice to key into and the romance begins.
Four Tips for Relating to Your Baby Girl
- Respond quickly to your baby girl’s cries simply by talking or humming. When she hears your deep voice, a calm will set in.
- When changing your baby, make it a bit of an event. Talk and sing about anything you wish, and she will respond like changing diapers is a game.
- Hold your infant girl close to your chest and move gently and rhythmically. She will feel your unique tempo that fosters your connection.
- As soon as she begins to coo, join in the conversation. Simply coo back in your low tones, and presto, you are talking together and relating together.
The 1- to 10-year-old daughter set falls in love with their daddy. You may find that your daughter loves to just be around you, kind of shows off for you, and hangs on your every word. She craves your attention, so give it often.
Four Tips for Relating to Your Little Girl
- Girls love praise from their dads. When you praise, be specific, accurate, and of course, positive. Overpraising can lose meaning, so look for details to point out and your daughter will be grateful.
- Girls build self-confidence when they feel their dads relate to them. Stretch yourself to learn about your daughter’s interests, so you can talk about what she enjoys. When you’re interested in what she does, she feels you’re interested in who she is. This builds her self-esteem and your dad-daughter relationship.
- Be involved with school work. School is the center of your daughter’s life. Be as involved as she wants you to be. That may mean sitting next to her while she does her homework, actually helping with assignments, or organizing a backpack. Whatever it takes!
- Meet her friends. Friends are also at the center of your daughter’s life. If she’s a social butterfly, drive her to sleepovers, chat with her friends, and look at her photos. If she’s more reserved, be interested in her “best friend” and let her know she’s a girl that other girls will like and tell her specifically why. She needs to know from you.
Your daughter is more of her own person now, but building her self-esteem is key. When teenage girls believe their dads believe in them, their self-confidence rises.
Four Tips for Relating to Your Young Woman
- Teenage girls need their space, but they build confidence when they know you are interested in what they enjoy. Ask them about their activities, interests and school work. They’ll be very pleased you want to know.
- Teenage girls need your approval even if they don’t act that way. Find whatever you can to praise — from a cool outfit to a school essay. Deep down you’re still her No. 1 guy.
- Ask your daughter her opinions. Teenage girls develop philosophies about life, especially as they get into their later teen years. Your interest in her thoughts matter more than you know.
- Go places with your daughter together, just the two of you. No matter how many kids you have, how busy home and work lives are, your daughter needs to spend time alone with you to remember she is a central part of your world.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with specialized clinical training in infant-parent, child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy. She has been on the faculties of New York University and the Society for Psychoanalytic Study and Research, among others. She has written extensively on parenting for various publications, including the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The International Journal of Infant Observation, The Inner World of the Mother, Newsday’s Parents & Children Magazine, Long Island Parent. She writes her popular column, PARENTAL INTELLIGENCE, at Moms Magazine and blogs for Huffington Post. Her new book is Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior.