Fathers and Daughters
I’ve spent years mentoring and life coaching young women and some young men. It’s so wonderful to be able to watch them grow up and desire to be at their best. I’ve witnessed many success stories. When I say success I’m not just talking about their level of education or a career. I’m looking at their healthy decision-making abilities, the positive impact they have on those around them, and how they treat themselves.
An area that’s often a place of frustration is watching youth navigate relationships. I’ve said in a previous blog that when kids date sometimes it can be cute and innocent. I don’t encourage young teens to date but rather focus on who they want to be, build healthy family relationships and friendships. Where they can focus on growing in their identity, doing well in school, and learning what healthy relationships look like. This can be foundational to helping youth make good decisions later on when they are more emotionally stable and ready for the challenges of dating.
I often worry about the young women I meet and the messages that they receive through programing. Before these girls are thirteen they’ve already been exposed to massive brainwashing and conditioning from many T.V. shows, cartoons, music videos, books, movies, and toy marketing. They have already been told that what they look like and the effect they have on boys is paramount. I can recognize even for myself that as early as six years old I had already received this damaging messaging. Thankfully there are a lot of T.V shows and movies that are starting to recognize this and fight against it.
I’ve also found that some girls don’t want to believe or value what older women try to teach them. Or maybe they see the women in their lives held to the same messy standard. Focusing on things like building their personality, doing well in school, and challenging themselves are seen as secondary business. There is a fixation on being cute enough to attract the opposite sex.
Warnings on how such superficial thinking can affect future outcomes are tuned out. I’ve found that unless girls face a blatant problem or set back in their pre-mature relationships, they may not seek wisdom in this area. When they start to run into difficulties then they might become more open-minded. Young girls value what their peers think. They may not always realize how their destructive thinking is being enforced by boys their own age who are not being held accountable for their actions.
Let’s be real, telling a thirteen-year-old how smart she is and that it doesn’t matter if boys her age are ignoring her now because she has so much to offer the world, will not have the impact you would like. Whereas, the effect of a boy paying her attention for simply acting or dressing in a particular way might be more motivating. I encourage fathers to really focus on quality time with their daughters and to speak truth to them. This instilling of love and value has a powerful grounding effect against the nonsense we find on the screen and at school. If fathers are not available, then safe, responsible male role models in addition to the mothers and aunties are needed to call things what they are. The whole village is wanted, but especially wise men to step up to the plate.