The healing hug of a daddy: Loving your teenage daughter

Fathers need to hug their daughters. There is no replacement for a father’s love. It has the power to emotionally balance their daughters and keep them safe from unhealthy male relationships.

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  • Teenage girls can give an air of independence that says, “I don’t need daddy-hugs anymore. I’m too old for that.” Don’t believe it for even one minute. The on-going value of hugs from a daddy became obvious in a recent experience told to us by a stepmom of a 15-year-old girl.

  • To protect their privacy we’ll call the girl Sheri and the stepmom Grace. Sheri, who lives with her mother, was visiting her father and stepmom. On the surface it was a good visit but there was an obvious distancing between Sheri and her father. No matter how he tried to get close to her, she put up a wall that stopped any kind of loving exchange.

  • One evening Grace and Sheri’s father were sitting in the family room when Sheri came in with an obvious defiant attitude. Grace decided it was time for a heart-to-heart discussion with Sheri to find out what was troubling her.

  • “Please sit down, Sheri,” Grace said, “we’re going to get to the bottom of what’s been troubling you. We want you to tell us what’s on your mind, why you’re acting so distant to your father.” At that point her father joined in and said, “You can say anything you want and we won’t interrupt or be mad at you. Just tell us what’s troubling you.”

  • Daughter pours out her heart

  • The flood gates opened and out came months of frustration, straight from the heart of this hurting teenage girl. “I want to live with Mom but I miss you, Daddy. Why don’t you call me more, why don’t you care about me like you used to? Why don’t you come and see me more?” The words rolled out like an emotional tsunami. “You don’t really care about me anymore,” she sobbed, then fell to the floor in a fetal position, and cried uncontrollably.

  • Her father looked at his wife, as if to say, “What can I do?” She whispered, “Get down there and just hold her and let her cry.”

  • He got down on the floor and put his arms around her and held her tightly, whispering to her, “I love you so much. And I have missed you so much. I’m so sorry I’m not living closer so I could see you more often. I love being with you. I love you so very much.” She responded by snuggling closer to him as she cried, obviously welcoming his tender gestures of love. She whispered, “I love you, Daddy.”

  • Soon the tears dried up and they talked about what could be in the future. Sheri began to understand that her father had also been hurting from not being able to be with her more often. A new vision opened up for both father and daughter, revealing their need to communicate more openly with each other.

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  • Sheri was a different girl from that moment on. Her bad attitude was no longer there. She was happy. It showed in her countenance and in her willingness to welcome hugs and talking time with her father and Grace.

  • Nothing replaces a hug

  • If this father had not humbled himself and gotten down on the floor and held his daughter in his arms, no amount of words would have penetrated her heart. She had to feel those strong, loving arms around her and hear his soothing words of love for her. Words alone would not have done the job. What a wise stepmother to encourage this action.

  • Every girl needs to know her daddy loves her unconditionally. She needs his strong arms around her to reassure her that he cares and will always care about her well-being. Even though they may resist it, find a way to give these much-needed hugs, along with reassurance of your love for her. When girls know they are loved by their fathers they generally don’t go seeking love indiscriminately from other males. Too many times, the lack of a good father/daughter relationship leads to promiscuity and unwed pregnancy.

  • Fathers, hug your daughters and protect them from searching elsewhere for love during those delicate teen years. Give them the emotional stability that only you can give. They will be much happier and so will you.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.

Website: http://garyjoylundberg.com

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