Early one morning when my daughter was around three years old she got out of bed to use the bathroom. My wife and I were asleep but were woken up when she came out of the bathroom crying. It was the type of loud cry where you think your child just lost a limb. We got up quickly and ran to find out what was wrong. The reason for the outburst? Her shoes were in the bathroom instead of the shoe basket where they belong. I was reminded of that story this past week after my daughter attended a week-long day camp. When one of the women who worked there saw her upset she asked my daughter why she was crying. My daughter responded through tears, “I don’t know. Sometimes I just cry.”
If you are a person who prays, please remember me. We haven’t even reached puberty and my daughter’s emotions are already through the roof. Raising a girl is challenging. As a dad, it can be difficult to understand what a girl goes through as she grows up. While each girl is unique and different, here are some of the common challenges of raising a daughter.
When emotions run deep it can easily turn into over-sensitivity and hurt feelings. Any logic or proper perspective gives way to disproportionate responses, inconsistent behavior, and thick tension. It can be like having an exposed nerve in the house. The more daughters the more drama there tends to be. It takes patience and empathy. The best thing to do is try to understand her, no matter how crazy she may seem. If you have a daughter consistently surrounded by drama, chances are high she is drawn to it. Girls who are drawn to drama will create it when everything is peaceful. She needs to learn how to manage those desires and channel them into something positive. She could work a job or volunteer at a place where she has to help resolve a situation where emotions tend to be high. That way she gets her desire for drama fed and can live drama-free among her friends and family.
No one is more vicious to girls than other girls. They rip each other apart. It’s a toxic environment filled with insults, snide remarks, body shaming, passive aggressiveness, and talking behind each other’s backs. We need to teach them how to step back, figure out what is happening below the surface, forgive, seek forgiveness, and reconcile. Too many parents heighten the emotion by just jumping to their child’s defense. They need our support, but they need help seeing the situation objectively in order to make the relationship right. One teenage girl admitted to me that she would be irrational and needed her dad to be rational for her.
By age 12, our daughters will believe they need to portray a sexual image or risk invisibility.From the earliest age, she sees images of women in the media telling her what she should be. Those images and what our culture lifts up as lovable has a powerful impact on our girls. By the time our daughters are twelve, or perhaps younger, they are conditioned to believe they need to portray a sexual image or risk being invisible. What they really want at their core is to be loved. Our girls need to be reminded where their value comes from and it should definitely not come from my next point.
Finding Value From Guys
Most young girls mistake attention for love. They try to display anything that receives attention from guys rather than being their beautiful authentic selves. Protect her from herself. Set expectations about what she can wear and post on social media. Talk to her about what she is communicating through her image and give her insight into the guy’s perspective. Ask her questions about how she feels about herself and reinforce why she is lovable.
Body changes and the emotions are just a part of why a daughter in puberty is challenging. However, more so is when your relationship enters into an awkward place. All of a sudden they go from daddy’s little girl to feeling weird around us. It hurts when they pull away or don’t want to be seen with us anymore. The good news is that it tends to just be a phase. It may be a painful few years, but sooner or later she’ll come back.
Huddle up with your daughter and ask, “Do you know why I love you so much?”