Father Knows Best?!

Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you don't see what's happening to me. Not really. You see the the outside, while missing the pain on the inside that I'm suffering. You see the loss of my weight, but you still don't see the loss of me. Me, as a person, as an individual. Why? I've cried out in every way I know how, but you still bury your heads in the abyss of denial. I want your arms wrapped around my broken soul, not your gifts, your money, your quick fixes. I'm weary of life. I'm weary of dying to be heard.
~your daughter~

What Role Does "Dad" Play with Eating Disorders and His Children?
While parents both play a critical part, dads play a unique role that is often overlooked by society as well as therapists.

Why are dads such an important player in the drama? Simply because daughters look to the men in their lives to understand who they are. Yes, for sure they look to their mothers to define who they are as a female. And that is why we challenge mothers to speak proper "body" language into the lives of their daughters. Daughters play close attention to how a mother feels about her own self worth and often echo that into their own self talk.

Fathers, on the other hand, give their daughters a sense of worth/value. The question is, do they send the message of wholeness? Wholeness based on "who" they are as a person and not "what" or "how" they look.

Shari Scott, a marriage and family therapist, registered nurse and director of the Center for Pediatric Eating Disorders at Children's Medical in Dallas, Texas, says, "Teaching self-respect is an important gift dads can give their daughters... that it's not about how they look or how thin they are, but what they think and feel from the inside that's important." She believes dads teach their daughters through their own attitudes and actions as to what should be expected from boys and men. (DMN 2/22/09)

What's The Message You Send, Dad?

So as a dad, how do you view women? Do you live out in your own life how you would want your daughter to be respected? Do you look at women inappropriately? Yes, that's a direct question and may make some feel a little uncomfortable.

No one is saying that men should never notice a woman. How can he, in many cases? It's even difficult for women to not notice certain women. Women that clearly are needy of attention. Women that don't mind revealing the mystery. Like Victoria's Secret: she let it out! And, yes, there are women who are just gorgeous by their very nature. It's difficult to not take that second look. But it's the way in which that "look" is given that sums up the heart of the matter.

Men can teach their daughters that they may notice women, but with respect. They can take opportunities to teach their daughters and sons the proper way to notice women. For sure:

  • Not looking women up and down.
  • Or staring at certain parts of their anatomy.
  • Try the eyes.
  • And I don't mean looking deep into their eyes with a longing desire.
  • But it is glancing at women with admiration at a very healthy distance.
  • Mostly, it's showing appreciation of a woman's worth by taking note of her value as a person, instead of crawling all over her with your eyes.

What Not to Do With Your Daughters

We've discussed how you choose to address women with your eyes. And while your body language toward women plays a huge part in the eyes of your children, your verbal cues are not easily discarded. Do you focus on how "beautiful" that women looks? Next, consider how you speak or look at your own daughter. For sure, compliment her on how beautiful she looks, but please let your main focus be on her inner beauty. PLEASE!

But She's My Little Princess

Personally, I line up with those that are not certain the "Princess Syndrome" is all that healthy. While it's cute, and it has it's place, how real is it in the day-to-day grind of life? Yes, we all like to pretend. And we'd all like to have a prince sweep us off of our feet. But is that a fair expectation to present to your child? One lady told me in her marriage, she kept looking for Prince Charming to come and sweep her off of her feet, but he never showed up!

I can't tell you how many women have shared with me that their dads spoiled them so much that they carried it over into their marriage with huge expectations that most men can't meet. They confessed that this need to be the "princess" nearly dethroned their marriage.

Little girls are easy to love, easy to cuddle, so we have a tendency to over do it. We need to find the balance. They need to be able to stand on their own, with or without mommy and daddy.

So while we do give our girls a wider display of open affection, we need to complement that with teaching them how to be strong and independent .

When we add to this princess syndrome the message that their value rests mostly in their looks, we create monsters that can and may destroy the lives of our daughters.

So men, I speak to you right now. Please reconsider your posture as your daughter's father. The person whom she looks to mostly for guidance on how to conduct herself with boys and men and what to expect from them.

Real Life Situations

I've known men who whistled at their daughters when the daughters were in bathing suits. Maybe you feel that is appropriate. I'm just asking you to consider placing value on a deeper level besides her near naked body. She will be much more comfortable in her own skin if you look past her skin and into her heart. These girls clearly questioned and were very confused by their dads giving them "that" kind of notice.

IF you focus on the outer, she will become obsessed with that. She may become arrogant or she may turn the other way and begin to use it to her advantage. She may not be able to maintain that "look" and fall into depression and or an eating disorder.

I'm all for girls growing up using their minds and not their bodies to get what they want. Personally, I don't believe a woman needs to be a stripper or a hooker to make a buck. I've often said, "If that same woman would use her head half as much as she uses her body, she would truly succeed far beyond anything she could ever begin to imagine."

Are we Not to be Proud of Our Bodies?

While I have no problem with the beauty of the body, the naked body, I have issue with using our bodies to gain money or attention. To turn men on. I've worked with women in crisis and many of them who were strippers told me they used their bodies to control men. I didn't say that, they did.

The truth is we don't believe in our own value, our inner worth. We are celebrated by how thin we are, how good we look, how few wrinkles we have, while rarely celebrated for our minds.

Let's step up to the plate and love our daughters, and our sons, with a clearer view of who they are as people, not objects.

NEXT: How does nutrition affect eating disorders?

Copyright © 2008 by Pilates Worx 4 Life. All rights reserved. Check out website: www.pilatesworx4life.com