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Some fathers wish they knew how to develop better relationships with their daughters. As little girls, daughters seem naturally close to their fathers, but as they get older, things begin to change.
One way to reverse this trend is for fathers to look for ways to engage them in conversations. Getting them to open up about their lives, fears and concerns is one way to begin to bridge the growing gap in any father-daughter relationship.
There are some questions designed to be conversation starters which can get daughters to talk more about their lives with their fathers. The sooner you start; the more effective they will be at helping you reconnect when the relationship has suffered.
“How is it going?” This question will open a door with your daughter if you don’t let her stop with the dreaded answer, “Fine.” If she sounds like she is avoiding the issue, ask some clarifying questions. “How did it go at school today?” is a good follow up question. “How are you getting along with your friends?” may be another option. Getting a general take on her view of her life and world is a good initial question to start a conversation.
“How are you feeling?” This key question tries to get at emotions. It is different than “how is it going” because it asks about feelings. As she answers, again try some follow up questions like “Are you upset?” or “What is making you feel the way you do?” These clarifying questions can help you get a little deeper into the feelings and emotions that your daughter may be experiencing.
“How is your love life?” This may be one of the more awkward questions for a father to ask a daughter, but it is an important one and it is probably one she secretly hopes to talk about with you. After all, you are a guy and you have some insight into the male gender that she probably doesn’t have.
You are also her protector, so if things are going wrong and she is feeling pressured or harassed by a guy, she will want to talk with you about it. If she is not having a love life yet, she may either feel happy or sad about that. As you talk, you can reassure her about who she is and what she has to offer in a relationship at the right time and in the right place.
“What are your goals?” Girls can find themselves in a world of conflict about their future. They know, for example, that an education is important to their future life, but they may be under peer pressure to be more focused on friends or fashion or boys.
Talking about goals can help her think more clearly about what she wants and help her figure out where she is going and how to handle the pressure to either achieve or dismiss those goals in her life.
“Do you want my advice or do you just want me to listen?” One of the key communication differences between men and women is that often women just want to be listened to, while men are all about fixing things.
When you engage in a conversation with your daughter, it is a good thing to determine what she sees your role being in the conversation. If she just wants you to listen, then don’t offer advice unless she later asks you for it.
“Do you know that I love you?” Dads sometimes have a hard time communicating love to their daughters and most daughters crave a loving relationship with their father.
This question will elicit a friendly, “Yes, Dad” or it may result in an “I’m not so sure anymore.” Either response creates an opportunity for more dialogue about your relationship and her status in your life and vice versa.