Embracing
Your Father
 

August
Sharing Your Life with Your Daughter


Sadly, fathers and daughters generally do not know one another as well or spend nearly as much time with one another throughout their lifetimes as mothers and daughters. Especially when it comes to the meaningful, personal aspects of our lives, fathers and daughters share less with one another.

So fathers, here’s the bottom line: You need to spend more time alone with your daughter, even when she’s a teenager and even after she is off living on her own. And when you are with her in private, use that time to share your life with her and to ask her meaningful, personal questions about her life. These lists of questions can get you started. Hundreds more are available in my book, as well as two chapters on communicating with your daughter:

Childhood and Family

1. Who is (or was) your favorite relative? Why?
2. How are you like and unlike each of your parents?
3. What are three of your favorite childhood memories?
4. What did you get too little of from your father? What did you get too much of?
5. What kind of relationship did you have with your father? With your mother?

Values

1. What book, film, and piece of music has affected you the most? Why?
2. If you had a motto, what would it be?
3. If you could afford it, what would you buy or do?
4. What do you wish you had more of? Why?
5. What would bring you the greatest joy during the next few years?

Friendship

1. What are four traits you look for in a friend?
2. Who have you known longest, and why has your friendship lasted so
long?
3. Which friend do you miss most? Why?
4. What is the best advice a friend ever gave you?
5. How have your friendships changed over time?

Spiritual Beliefs

1. How have your religious beliefs changed over time?
2. What was your most spiritual experience?
3. What spiritual questions do you ask yourself most often?
4. What are your greatest worries about aging or dying?
5. How has another person’s death affected your own religious views or feelings about dying?

Feelings About Yourself

1. How successful do you consider yourself? Why?
2. What are your best and worst traits?
3. What are some of the best compliments you’ve ever gotten?
4. What are three of the best and three of the worst decisions you’ve ever made?
5. What three lessons did you learn the hard way?

Love & Romance

1. What romantic relationships had the greatest impact on you, and how?
2. What do you wish had been different about your romantic relationships?
3. How liberal or conservative do you consider yourself to be on sexual issues?
4. How have your ideas about love, sex, and marriage changed over time?
5. What do you wish you had known about sexual and romantic relationships as a young man?

Getting to know your daughter and allowing her to know you means asking the kinds of questions that so many of us wish we had asked before it was “too late”. Give your daughter the gift of getting to know you. Give yourself the gift of getting to know her.

©2008 Dr. Linda Nielsen

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It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. Pope John XXIII

Dr. Nielsen has been teaching, counseling, conducting research and writing about adolescents and father-daughter relationships since 1970. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and the recipient of the outstanding graduate's award in teacher education from the University of Tennessee in 1969, she taught and counseled high school students for several years. After earning a Master's Degree in Counseling and a Doctorate in Educational and Adolescent Psychology, she joined the faculty of Wake Forest University in 1974. Her grants and awards include the Outstanding Article Award in 1980 from the U.S. Center for Women Scholars and a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Association of University Women. For the past fifteen years she has focused primarily on father-daughter relationships with a special emphasis on divorced fathers and their daughters. Her work has been cited in the "Wall Street Journal" as well as in popular magzines such as "Cosmopolitan", and shared through television and radio interviews..

In 1991 she created her "Fathers & Daughters" course - the only college course in the country that focuses exclusively on father-daughter relationships. In addition to having written several dozen articles for journals such as the "Harvard Educational Review" and the "Journal of Divorce & Remarriage", Dr. Nielsen has written three books: How to Motivate Adolescents (Prentice Hall) and Adolescence: A Contemporary View (Harcourt Brace) which sold more than 60,000 copies and was adopted by hundreds of universities throughout the country and abroad between 1986-1996. Her third book, Embracing Your Father: Creating the Relationship You Want with Your Dad was published in April, 2004. www.wfu.edu/~nielsen or E-Mail

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