Q: I’m overwhelmed by all of the stories of sexual harassment and abuse in the news lately. It seems to be everywhere. As a father, how can I protect my girls?
A: The best thing you can do for your daughters is to set an example of how they should be treated. Here are a few suggestions from our staff: Gail Groboski, LCSW-C says, “Show them what healthy relationship are so they carry those lessons throughout their lives. Spend time with them. Quality time can be overrated. They also need quantity time with you.” Find a shared hobby and make it a regular activity with each daughter. Through these experiences they will come to expect their partner’s attention as part of a healthy relationship; steering them away from partners who ignore them and instead drawing them toward partners who make them a priority.
Be accepting. Nicole Beane, LCSW-C suggests, “Allow them to express themselves without fear of being shamed or judged. Validate their efforts and ideas and let them know they make you proud.” Loving your daughters unconditionally will help them to do the same for themselves and show them how to give and expect it from others. Being accustomed to unconditional love will help them to avoid manipulative and controlling partners.
Finally, Dr. Elizabeth Carr says, “allow your daughters to stand up to you.” When you let them down, allow them to express their frustration or disappointment in you. Don’t get stuck in always being right. Sometimes we make mistakes at the expense of other’s feelings. When you do, own it and apologize. This will empower them to expect to be treated with humility, kindness, a respect, and will inspire them to seek partners who treat them as equals.
Originally Published in the Lakelands Leader in our advice column the Laudable Life