Inside Out 293: Dads - Your Girl is Changing

10.23.13 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Dads, if you’ve been blindsided by the changes in your little girl--before she even leaves elementary school--this podcast is for you.

You may have thought the mood swings would wait until middle school, but already your little girl’s wrestling with body changes, sudden insecurity, and the ramped up dynamics of “fitting in.”

Before you assume that the best you can do is “buckle your seatbelt and hold on for the ride,” give Dr. Michelle Watson a listen. Michelle’s a licensed therapist who believes so strongly in the importance of a father’s engagement in a girl’s life that she’s founded The Abba Project with the goal of “changing girls’ lives, one Dad at a time.”

This is a critical time for you and your daughter.  If you could hear what’s going through your daughter’s head during puberty—yes, girls can reach puberty in elementary school--Michelle says it would break your heart.

“That’s when they tend to put themselves down, and judge themselves, compare themselves. I underscore the vital importance of Dad’s positive, affirming, loving words of how beautiful she is, and how she’s perfect in his eyes.” A good father-daughter relationship, she says, helps ground a daughter for the rest of her life, giving her a “launch pad” into her adult years.

In our half-hour conversation, Michelle emphasizes the role of a Dad in a girl’s life (“A daughter needs the male presence and that kind of energy that a Dad gives . . . for her self-esteem to be established”) and offers strategies that will help fathers begin conversations, listen with their whole bodies, and choose words that will build relationship. 

“Remember that you model God the Father to your daughter. She will reference a Father in heaven based on her father on earth. No pressure or anything . . . .”

Of course it’s pressure. But when you stumble, there’s hope for restoration, even after many years. The same Father in heaven you are modeling for your daughter offers to be present as you move beyond the mistakes that even the best fathers will make. 

TO LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION, click on the Listen or Download icon above.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ABBA PROJECT and the work that’s behind Michelle’s upcoming book “What a Daughter Really Wants from Her Dad.”



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Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.


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