One of the cornerstones of human relationships is embodied in a single word: conversation.
As you seek to understand your daughter, another major factor you must not overlook is that there is 15 percent more blood flowing in the female brain than in that of a male, and it is more likely to surge to both hemispheres. When you talk to a girl, she is concentrating on what you say with both sides of her brain, whereas a boy is listening with predominately one side. This is why females typically like to process ideas before deciding or acting on them. It is also why women often agonize over routine decisions.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of talking in the lives of girls and women. Though estimates vary, it appears that males use about seven thousand words per day; and females, twenty thousand. Women not only talk more, but their enjoyment in conversation is far more intense. Girls and women, more than boys and men, connect emotionally through spoken words. Connecting through talking activates the pleasure centers of a girl's brain, providing a huge emotional reward for her. It is why teen girls are obsessed with text messaging and computer chat rooms. It also explains why one of the most common sources of disappointment women express about married life is that the guys won't talk to them. When communication breaks down between them and people they love, females are often wounded and frustrated.
Females of all ages tend to interpret masculine silence as evidence of rejection. Girls often feel abandoned by fathers who won't engage them verbally. Based on this understanding, the best thing dads can do to connect with their daughters is to talk to them about whatever is of interest. Little and not-so-little girls need to talk, especially about what they are feeling. Ask questions and then listen carefully to what is said in return. This interaction helps to produce the affirmation she needs. Meaningful and affectionate dialogue with a daughter is evidence that she is worthy, secure, and loved.
Those beneficial effects can be achieved so easily through simple, genuine conversation.
Let me speak directly to the busy dad who is too exhausted at the end of the day to get your daughter talking, either at the dinner table or in those intimate few minutes before bedtime: you may be making a serious mistake. You need to know what she is thinking, and she needs the pleasure of telling you about it. It is imperative that you tune in. There will come a time when she will be talking primarily to her peers, and the missed opportunities for understanding and intimacy today will be costly down the road.
Engage your daughter in activities that encourage conversation, including eating together as a family, playing table games, inviting friends with kids to dinner, cooking together, building things, adopting a lovable dog or cat, cultivating mutual interests, or learning a sport such as skiing or tennis as a family.
Remember how your daughter is made, and seek invitations into her private world.
You won't regret it.
From Dr. Dobson's book Dads & Daughters.
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