Where has the time gone? Your baby girl is entering womanhood, but this wonderful event carries with it fears, doubts and questions. As you watch your daughter’s inner struggle between acceptance and denial of the changes she is undergoing, you’re reminded of the void you may have I felt at that time in your life; the whirlpool of emotions when you questioned why daddy didn’t love you anymore. The worst thing that can happen to a girl in adolescence is to lose the attention of her prized male love – her daddy. Of course you didn’t lose his love, but it felt at the time that you did.
It’s time to lend some insight into the plight of the female adolescent or teenager who is battling her own critical perception of who she is and where her true beauty lies. Hopefully the importance of communication between fathers and daughters will be instilled.
Puberty is a magnanimous time in a girl’s life. Her breasts grow, hips spread, waist thickens, and she can sense her father’s detachment. It isn’t even a conscious effort on the part of the dad, but nonetheless, you can imagine why a young girl may wonder why her daddy has stopped letting her sit in his lap, cuddle up next to him in bed or hold her in his arms. Perhaps she wonders: ‘Was it something I had done?’
Puberty can make a girl feel awkward, and at times, even ugly. This is a time when she desperately wants to hear that she is still beautiful in her father’s eyes; that no matter what changes are taking place, she is always his pride and joy – daddy’s little girl. Unfortunately, men feel just as awkward and often in place of reassurance, they become silent and distant.
Do you remember a time when you realized that you weren’t daddy’s little girl anymore and nothing would be the same again? For some girls, who thrive on the approval her dad, she takes this perceived action as rejection and often tries to desperately stop the process of what feels like loss of control over her own bodily functions. It isn’t unusual for her to react with anger, sadness and loneliness. What begins as a desperate attempt to gain control over her body and force it to stop swelling, bloating, popping, spreading, and smelling, can lead to a destructive, harmful, repulsive, revolting, self-loathing, shameful, brutal and possibly fatal disease; disordered eating.
This disease has many twists. Some people eat and purge as in bulimia; eat and over exercise; or deny their natural hunger signals and become emaciated as in anorexia. There are those that eat and use laxatives, chew food, but never swallow; some use diet pills, diuretics, diet programs, surgery, and other drugs. In some cases, the disease takes on a multitude of phases such as brief anorexic episode to bulimia, that can include laxative addiction and self-inflicted wounds. Eventually, these actions lead to a disassociation with the body that produces a skewed vision of its shape, called dysmorphia (unable to see the reality of your own appearance – instead, you see only the flaws and the fat).
For those fortunate enough to have observant, loving and understanding parents and dads who communicate with their daughters, girls can realize that daddy never stopped loving her; he only stopped showing it in the ways she was use to. Yet so many girls will interpret the awkward cautiousness of their father’s behavior as rejection. It is unfortunate that society’s dogmas forces fathers to feel the need to keep a physical distance from their daughters as they develop. Fathers are experiencing their own awkwardness, as well as fear the misinterpretations and judgments of others. How unfortunate, that when their daughter’s need them most, they pull away. The biggest shame of all is that it can all be eliminated by honest and open communication between fathers and daughters.