Fa­ther in­flu­ences daugh­ter’s feel­ing to­wards boys, men

The Covington News - - Religion -

Ques­tion: Is there a way I as a fa­ther can in­flu­ence my daugh­ter’s at­ti­tude to­ward boys? If she chooses to marry, she will need to un­der­stand men and know how to re­late to them. Is that some­thing I should be think­ing about?

Dob­son: You bet it is. Long be­fore a girl finds her first real boyfriend or falls in love, her at­ti­tude to­ward men has been shaped qui­etly by her fa­ther. Why? Be­cause the fa­ther-daugh­ter re­la­tion­ship sets the stage for all fu­ture ro­man­tic in­volve­ments.

If a young wo­man’s fa­ther re­jects her, she’ll spend her life try­ing to find a man who can meet the needs he never ful­filled in her heart. If he’s warm and nur­tur­ing, she’ll look for a lover to equal him. If he thinks she’s beau­ti­ful and fem­i­nine, she’ll be in­clined to see her­self that way. But, if he re­jects her as unattrac­tive and un­in­ter­est­ing, she’s likely to carry self­im­age prob­lems into her adult years.

It’s also true that a wo­man’s re­la­tion­ship with her hus­band is sig­nif­i­cantly in­flu­enced by the way she per­ceived her fa­ther’s author­ity. If he was over­bear­ing or capri­cious dur­ing her ear­lier years, she may pre­cip­i­tate power strug­gles with her hus­band through­out mar­ried life. But, if Dad blended love and dis­ci­pline in a way that con­veyed strength, she may be more com­fort­able with a give-and-take mar­riage char­ac­ter­ized by mu­tual re­spect.

So much of what goes into mar­riage starts with the bride’s fa­ther. That’s why it be­hooves those of us with daugh­ters to give our best ef­fort to rais­ing them prop­erly. You are right to be think­ing about that vi­tal re­la­tion­ship.

Ques­tion: The chil­dren in our neigh­bor­hood are bratty with one an­other and dis­re­spect­ful with adults. This up­sets me, but I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t have a right to dis­ci­pline the chil­dren of my neigh­bors, so they get away with mur­der. How can I deal with this?

Dob­son: Par­ents in a neigh­bor­hood need to learn to talk to each other about their kids — al­though that is dif­fi­cult to do! There is no quicker way to anger one mother than for an­other wo­man to crit­i­cize her pre­cious cub. It is a del­i­cate sub­ject, in­deed. That’s why the typ­i­cal neigh­bor­hood is like yours, pro­vid­ing lit­tle “feed­back” to par­ents in re­gard to the be­hav­ior of their chil­dren. The kids know there are no lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween adults, and they take ad­van- tage of the bar­rier. What each block needs is a mother who has the courage to say to her neigh­bors, “I want to be told what my child does when she is be­yond her own yard. If she is a brat with other chil­dren, I would like to know it. If she is dis­re­spect­ful with adults, please men­tion it to me. I will not con­sider it tat­tling and I won’t re­sent your com­ing to me. I hope I can share my in­sights re­gard­ing your chil­dren, too. None of our kids is per­fect, and we’ll know bet­ter how to teach them if we can talk openly to each other as adults.”

Un­til this open­ness ex­ists be­tween par­ents liv­ing nearby, the chil­dren will cre­ate and live by their own rules in the neigh­bor­hood.

Ques­tion: Af­ter read­ing sev­eral ex­cel­lent books on par­ent­ing, I see now that I’ve been do­ing many things wrong with my chil­dren. Can I undo the harm?

Dob­son: I doubt if it is too late to do things right, al­though your abil­ity to in­flu­ence your chil­dren lessens with the pas­sage of time. For­tu­nately we are per­mit­ted to make many mis­takes with our kids. They are re­silient and they usu­ally sur­vive most of our er­rors in judg­ment. It’s a good thing they do, be­cause none of us can be a per­fect par­ent. Be­sides, it’s not the oc­ca­sional mis­takes that hurt a child — it is the con­sis­tent in­flu­ence of de­struc­tive con­di­tions through­out child­hood that does the dam­age.

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