with Daughters Should Know About Eating Disorders
Menstuff® has compiled information for fathers of daughters
regarding eating disorders.
10 Tips for Dads with
Ten Things Every Father Should
10 Tips for Dads with Daughters
1) Listen to girls. Focus on what is really important--what my
daughter thinks, believes, feels, dreams and does--rather than how
she looks. I have a profound influence on how my daughter views
herself. When I value my daughter for her true self, I give her
confidence to use her talents in the world.
2) Encourage her strength and celebrate her savvy. Help my daughter
learn to recognize, resist and overcome barriers. Help her develop
her strengths to achieve her goals. Help her be what Girls
Incorporated calls Strong, Smart and Bold!
3) Urge her to love her body & discourage dieting. Growing girls
need to eat often and healthy. Dieting increases the risk of eating
disorders. Advertisers spend billions to convince my daughter she
doesnt look "right." I wont buy into it. Ill tell
my daughter that I love her for who she is, not for how she
4) Respect her uniqueness. See my daughter as a whole person, capable
of anythingand make sure she knows thats how I see her.
My daughter is likely to choose a life partner who acts like me and
has my values. So, treat her and those she loves with respect. That
will help my daughter choose someone who respects and nourishes her
long after shes left my home.
5) Get physically active with her. Play catch, tag, jump rope,
basketball, Frisbee, hockey, soccer, or just take walks
it! Help her learn all the great things her body can do. Physically
active girls are less likely to get pregnant, drop out of school, or
put up with an abusive partner. Studies show that the most physically
active girls have fathers who are active with them. Being physically
active with her is a great investment!
6) Get involved in your daughters school. Volunteer, chaperone,
read to her class. Ask tough questions, like: Does the school have
and use an eating disorder prevention or body image awareness
program? Does it tolerate sexual harassment of boys or girls? Do more
boys take advanced math and science classes and if so, why?
(California teacher Doug Kirkpatricks girl students
werent interested in science, so he changed his methods and
their scores soared!) Are at least half the student leaders
7) Get involved in your daughters activities. Volunteer to
drive, coach, direct a play, teach a classanything! Demand
equality. Texas mortgage officer and volunteer basketball coach Dave
Chapman was so appalled by the gym his 9-year-old daughters
team had to use, he fought to open the modern "boys'" gym to the
girls team. He succeeded. Dads make a difference!
8) Help make the world better for girls. This world does hold dangers
for our daughters. But over-protection doesnt work, and it
tells my daughter that I dont trust her and her abilities! I
can work with other parents to demand an end to violence against
females, media sexualization of girls, pornography, advertisers
making billions feeding on our daughters insecurities, and all
"boys are more important than girls" attitudes.
9) Take your daughter to work. Participate in every Aprils
official Take Our Daughters to Work® Day and make sure my
business participates. Show her how I pay the bills and manage my
money. My daughter will have a job some day, so I need to introduce
her to the world of work and finances!
10) Join with other fathers. When I share my commitment to make the
world respect and nurture our daughters, Ill be amazed at how
many other fathers agree. We can learn a lot from each other. And we
can have a lot of influence when we work together by becoming a
member of (or renewing a membership in) Dads and Daughters. Encourage
other fathers to join, too.
Ten Things Every Father Should Know
Our body size is a given, like our height or hair color. Yet, by
middle school, 30-50 percent of American girls say they feel too fat
and 20-40 percent are dieting; many beginning before age 10. By high
school, 40-60 percent of girls feel overweight and try to lose
Young girls say that they are more afraid of becoming fat than
they are of cancer, nuclear war, or losing their parents.
Today, the average fashion model weighs 23 percent less than the
The average age for onset of eating disorders is during
adolescence. While self-esteem for both girls and boys is strong as
children and drops for both in adolescence, the drop is much steeper
for girls, beginning at around age of 12.
In a survey of working-class 5th to 12th grade suburban girls, 69
percent reported that magazine pictures influence their idea of the
perfect body shape; 47 percent reported wanting to lose weight
because of magazine pictures.
Before puberty there is no difference in depression rates between
boys and girls. By age 15, girls are twice as likely to be depressed
and 10 times as likely to develop an eating disorder than their male
peers. Girls are more likely to attempt suicide than boys are, but
boys are more likely to succeed.
Clinique Laboratories, Inc. surveyed 500 moms of teen daughters
and found their number one New Years Resolutions was "lose
weight/eat less". Yet 22% of these same mothers list the fear of
their daughter developing an eating disorder among their top
concerns. Only 16 percent of the 500 teens in the same survey worried
about developing an eating disorder.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that comments by male family members
trigger dieting, and teasing is associated with weight-control
attempts in adolescence.
According to data presented to the National Institutes of Health,
33-40 percent of adult women are trying to lose weight at any given
time fueled by a cultural perception of a feminine "ideal" that
is much too thin for good health.
Girls with active and hardworking dads are more ambitious, more
successful in school, attend college more frequently, and are more
likely to attain careers of their own. They are less dependent, more
self-protective, and less likely to date or marry abusive
Sources: Dads and Daughters, 1999. Michael Levine,
Prevention of Eating Problems with Elementary Children, USA Today,
July 98, Special K report, Business Wire, 1998, Jo Sullivan-Lyons,
The Psychologist, American Academy of Advertising, Pediatrics, March
99, American Psychological Assn. congressional briefing.
Special thanks to Dads and Daughters for their wonderful article
contributions to edreferral.com. To learn more about the nonprofit
group Dads and Daughters, or to join, visit www.dadsanddaughters.org
or call 1-888-824-DADS
Also, Joe Kelly, DADS Executive Director Dads and Daughters at
or call 888.824.DADS
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only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional
services. Any medical decisions should be made in conjunction with
your physician. We will not be liable for any complications, injuries
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