We pick up here for the second part of my interview with Dr. Tim Jordan, a seasoned pediatrician, who has worked with teenage girls for much of his practice. He has a new book: Sleeping Beauties, Awakened Women, Guiding the Transformation of Adolescent Girls. He asked me to review it and my review consisted of me skimming the table of contents. Not that I didn’t WANT to read the book, it looks quite interesting, I just have diapers and dishes and laundry that call me at every turn. He offered to answer a few of my questions and based on that I saw from his topic headings.
Today we are talking moms and dads. How do they impact girls differently? What do they uniquely offer their daughters? I LOVE this topic! It gets to the importance of both parents in girls’ lives. And from the research I’ve read (and I actually have read some in other seasons of my days) moms and dads offer different yet critical elements to girls’ healthy identity development. Read on, it’s all very interesting (well at least I think so.)
Me: You talk in your book about the unique roles of mothers and fathers in girls’ “transformative years” as you call them. Can you talk some about the unique offerings of both mothers and fathers?
Dr. Tim: Here is a handout I just created for a father-daughter retreat I am running to handle the dad side titled: What Dads Bring to Parenting Girls (the following are bullets from the handout.)
1) “Pounce Look”: physical, loud, unpredictable, spontaneous
2) Push the envelope: stretch, take risks
3) Change rhyme verses- open to learning, curious and on their toes
4) More directive: prepares them for real world: not read their minds and anticipate their needs like moms do
5) Rough & tumble play: assertive, competitive, confident, aggressive, a way to be affectionate
6) Stay more detached: not take girl’s behaviors personally- not escalate things
7) Encourage problem solving and critical thinking skills
8) Repress emotions: times you need focus; judgment not clouded with emotions
9) Teasing and bantering: BS monitor, toughens girls up, not take words so personally, shoot from the hip, banter back
10) Encourage adventures: stretch, risks, make things happen, out-of-comfort-zone
11) Sense of humor: more independent, confident, and happier
12) Focus on non-physical qualities: balance cultural messages, you are way more than your looks
13) Model how a guy should treat them: way you treat daughter and their mom
14) Model healthy father and husband
Tim Jordan M.D. © 2013
For moms, several things. Be very aware of what you are modeling in the way you talk to yourself about yourself, how you deal with stress and friends etc. I would learn to listen to their stories and keep your own emotions out of it, staying more detached. Listen understand, empathize, and then turn it back over to them to problem solve. Therefore do not rescue, fix, or do for them what they can and should be doing for themselves! If you have not handled your own issues from the past, now is the time to do so because if you don’t, they will re-emerge with parenting your daughter and get in the way. I would be very careful about what you say about your body image, because girls are listening intently. Create special rituals you do with them when they are in grade school, so that it stays easy to have special time with them when they get to adolescence. Give them space, but stay connected…they still need you even as they are pushing you away.
Do you think moms and dads offer different things to their daughters? I’d love to hear.