Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Family Morning Show on TheFish103.9FM, forwarded me an article about a study released earlier this month by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center which examined teen girls meeting strangers in person that they encountered on line. The study concluded that girls who were abused or neglected were the ones who took such risks.
This finding is not surprising, and should give us all pause about the vulnerability of the daughters in our community because the category of neglect takes in a lot of territory in the modern, incredibly distracted lifestyles we lead today.
“Our early-adolescent girls do not get enough attachment, bonding, and information from the family and extended family into which they’ve been born.” –Michael Gurian, The Wonder of Girls, p. 20
More than ever, girls need to know they are valued, have a sense of validation from a main man (father figure), and that know that their worth cannot be found by seeking attention from strange men. If the father is not available, then an uncle or a big brother can provide the fatherly spirit of love and acceptance.
How can girls experience genuine fatherly love?
- There must be proper attention from a man, a father’s voice, telling her she is strong, beautiful and can do anything she puts her mind to do. There is no hint of exploitation in the relationship and the messages.
- Encourage your daughter to think for herself, and not be dependent upon the opinions of others. Be interested in her opinions and challenge her to think outside the box.
- Encourage your daughter to pursue her interests (beyond hanging out with friends).
- Encourage her to explore all her interests in sports, medicine, child care/mentoring, and social events.
- Describe to her the qualities you admire in her as an intelligent, caring woman. Identify and discuss examples of women, inside or outside your family or immediate community, who demonstrate the qualities of womanhood that are high functioning and fulfilling.
Raising women of authority
In his book, The Wonder of Girls : Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters, Michael Gurian offers an interesting and helpful thought about womanhood and motherhood.
According to Gurian, “mothering” is associated with being a woman of authority, which is not limited to being the female parent of children. Mothering implies the sacredness of female authority: so “girls seek to be both caregivers to those in need, and authorities in their circles of influence, whether those circles are large or small, hierarchical or intimate, within family or without, corporate or alternative.” (p.285)
From early on in their lives, “girls are focused on being motherly of the human experience.” (p.285)
Dave Lema is a retired technology executive, a Dad of a grown son and daughter, and serves as “the Mike” on a talk show podcast about the social issues facing children and families called, Three Moms and a Mike.
“In order to have a fulfilling experience as humans in society, it is important to set healthy boundaries and establish practical goals for yourself,” Lema said. “And then you strike out on your own to pursue those goals.”
According to Lema, this ability to stand on your own two feet is critical for girls to be secure, and less vulnerable to desire attention from predators. “You cannot know all the curve balls that life will throw up,” Lema said. “But you can find firm ground in knowing who you are, having a strong sense of ethics and embrace responsibility for your own thoughts and actions.”
Lema encourages the father-daughter relationship to be rooted in the confidence that your daughter is strong and independent and does not require the attention of just any man to be validated. It must be a man who will cherish her as her father does.
In this sense, girls growing into their womanhood naturally seek to find bonding in relationships which are built upon:
- A strong sense of personal identity (core beliefs, values, talents, passions)
- Independent thinker (does not allow peer pressure to inform/guide her)
- Code of thinking and conduct (your moral compass)
- Capacity for intimacy (trusted, caring resource)
Finding love in the right places is a matter of developing trustworthy character to respond to all kinds of people, starting at home. There are some excellent examples of “mothering” in different arenas of life. A universal truth in all arenas of life beckons feminine authority: “people don’t care about what you know, until they know you care”.
- Business manager/boss
- Civic leader
Hey Dad, what kind of husband are you?
How do you treat your daughter’s mother? The way you treat your mate sends strong signals to the children. Be the husband you want your daughter to desire and attract.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34 ESV
Putting technology in its place
Equally important is to make the primary relationships a top priority over Internet or cyber powered communications. Being mindful about down time to connect with family members face to face is going to help your daughter be grounded and bonded and less vulnerable to the nefarious influences of the social media and texting.
The Wonder of Girls : Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters, by Michael Gurian
Joanna Jullien is an author and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM, Tuesdays.