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What Little Girls Need From Their Fathers

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This excellent article by psychoanalyst Joyce McFadden explores the important role fathers play in supporting their daughters’ healthy sexual development at all ages. McFadden asserts that fathers have major influence in “three hugely important facets of how she’ll see herself in the world throughout her life,” specifically, in “her level of personal confidence, her body comfort and pride, and [her] expectations for the way she should be treated by boys and men.”

McFadden acknowledges that this can be a challenging topic for many fathers: “Even though fathers only want the best for their daughters, when asked to contemplate the idea that they should play an active role in guiding their daughters as they transition from little girl, to girl, to young woman, they squirm. They wince. They slam their eyes shut in an effort to make it stop. They say, ‘Go ask your mother.'”

She urges fathers to “reconsider” this kind of response, because, as she writes, “your daughters really do need you… Whether we’re talking about the idea of teaching your toddler the accurate names for her body parts during bath time, educating your 8-year-old about menstruation or discussing sexual behavior as your teenager is getting ready for a date, dodging, squirming and wincing aren’t reactions that are going to help your daughter feel comfortable in her own skin or confident about who she is.”

“So, when you reveal your discomfort with your daughter’s sexuality,” she continues, “you’re unintentionally teaching her it’s either something to be afraid of or something to be disdained. You’ll also be directly or indirectly teaching her you don’t want to be involved in knowing that part of her, and that will probably create distance in your relationship.”

You can read more of McFadden’s suggestions on how fathers can be supportive of their daughters at all stages of their development on HuffPost at

Joyce McFadden is also the author of “Your Daughter’s Bedroom: Insights for Raising Confident Women,” a resource for mothers who want to establish a more open and positive relationship with their daughters at

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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