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Dad and daughter - a special bond.

A late-night heart-to-heart talk; a comforting parental hug to soothe the sting of a classmate's hateful words; the right-on-target kidding from the one who knows us best--while the common stereotype would credit mom for such nurturing acts, researchers have found that children, especially adolescent girls, need to receive this treatment from their fathers perhaps as much as they need it f rom their mothers. "We found that eighth-grade girls who said they were not close with their fathers cited a significantly higher incidence of depressed mood than girls who described their relationship with their fathers as close," explains Pamela Sarigiani, assistant professor of child development and family studies, Purdue University. "We expected to find the same pattern among girls who said they didn't get along well with their mothers, but we didn't." When fathers of 12th-grade girls indicated they were feeling depressed, their daughters said they, too, were in a depressed mood. The same correlation was not found between fathers and sons or mothers and their sons or daughters.

"So much of the early research out there had focused on the relationships of children and their mothers," notes Phame Camarena, a Purdue researcher and ex tension specialist. "This study is telling us that, contrary to research that focused exclusively on mothers, dads are generally as important to the emational well-being and adjustment of their kids as moms are, and that a good predictor of an adolescent girl's mental health is her relationship with her father."

He indicates that one critical time a daughter needs her father --during adolescence, when she is changing physically and is beginning to question who she is as an adult--often is the time the father begins to show less affection. "Ironically, just as a teenaged girl is entering adolescence and going through the outward and often awkward change that goes along with puberty, her father pulls away from her because he isn't comfortable with his daughter's new sexuality. So just at the point when she needs approving hugs from her dad the most, he's less likely to give them to her, and she may not understand why he's pulling away; she may think he approves of her less."

Camarena maintains that men often need to make a conscious change in the way they handle their adolescent daughters. "In his daughter's young life, a father is traditionally the provider and the rule-maker. But when his daughter becomes a young teenager, he needs to make a shift toward being an adviser, confidant, or guidance counselor. Instead of imposing rules, he can listen and allow his child to take some of the responsibility for making decisions and gradually take on a more adult role while providing the emotional security, nurturing, and warmth that she needs."

He is optimistic about the future of fatherhood. "Most young fathers will say they want to have better relationships with their kids than they had with their dads. And because husbands and wives are beginning to share child-rearing responsibilities more equally than ever before, fathers are having to become more comfortable with being nurturers, too. When people are on their death beds, they don't say, |Gee, I wish I had spent more time at the office.' They say they wish they could have done more with their kids and for their kids. I think many fathers are realizing that a lot sooner these days."
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Title Annotation:fathers affect girls' emotional adjustment
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:College kids' parents should "keep cool." (avoid overreacting to new ideas and behaviors)
Next Article:Put on a happy face.

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