By REBECCA QUILLIAM – NZPA
Whether she is a princess or a demon, it can be a daunting task for a father to know how to raise his daughter, Christchurch-based clinical psychologist Nigel Latta says.
In order to help men who might feel out of their depth, Latta has this week released a book called Fathers Raising Daughters.
Part of the reason for writing the book was because it was becoming more and more common for fathers to have sole responsibility for their children.
“It used to be that if mum and dad separated that mum would get the children, but now increasingly there are more dads who are raising daughters by themselves,” he told NZPA.
Latta’s advice was also aimed towards dads who were still with their wives, but thought the raising of girls should be left to the mothers.
“Girls need quite a bit of dad stuff as well.”
The book looks at raising daughters from babies through to adulthood and tackles tricky issues such as puberty.
“Stuff like menstruation and periods – it’s quite hard for dads to talk about that sort of stuff with their daughters. So if they’ve got a technical understanding of it…then it’s easier to talk about.”
Latta also pointed out it was a good idea for fathers to have a close relationship with their daughters because it had been proved that men who play a positive role in their daughters’ lives can slow down the puberty process.
“There’s still lots of discussions as to why that might be but when you think about it, it kind of makes sense.
“Because if dad is part of your life, and he’s a good father, then that would suggest things are more stable and secure.
“And you don’t have the same kind of stress stuff going on that you might have if your dad isn’t part of your life, or you have a crap dad.”
There seemed to be a link between emotions and physiology, he said.
Sons and daughters were not so different to raise, he said.
“I think the biggest difference for dads is that dads feel more out of their depth with girls. I think that fundamentally boys and girls are much more similar than different – and there’s lots of good research that says that now too,” Latta said.
The psychologist has spent his career studying families and criminals, and said there was a great deal of cross-over when looking at each group.
“I’ve always worked with really difficult kids and I’ve worked with lots of families. They’re lovely families, they’ve just got daughters who go completely la la and start doing stuff in their adolescence that is alarming.”
La la girls are also known as Hormonal Honeys – girls with endocrine systems starting to kick in – girls gone wild. Most of this is due to hormone imbalance as the body starts to develop its own rhythm. Helping a young woman understand that by charting her emotions and behaviors so that she can recognize the cyclical pattern is a useful technique.