Dads, this is for you. How to handle it when your daughter comes to you and says, “I’m fat.” What she’s really saying is “I don’t feel good about myself”, “I don’t feel like I fit in”, or “I’m insecure”. Here’s what to do according to psychologist Rosalind Wiseman who wrote the book, “Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads”.
First, know this – a Dad has an even greater power than a Mom in helping his girl come to grips with her looks. Most men don’t link their sense of self-worth to their weight the way women do. Which means Dads can be a source of confidence for their daughters. So when she comes to you and says, “I’m fat” – DON’T do this:
- Don’t laugh it off. Don’t say “But I like you that way Jelly Belly!” Men use humor as a way of bonding. But if your daughter is a bit heavy, teasing her about it, even lovingly, feels like you’re rubbing it in.
- DON’T offer an incentive. Well-meaning Dads often go into “coach mode”. Offering a reward if their princess drops 20 pounds. Don’t make her weight loss a competition.
So how should you handle it?
- DO tell her she’s great. It’s vital that a girl knows her father is interested in her and inspired by her. Dr. Wiseman says, girls are constantly bombarded with images from the media of thin, beautiful women. And those images make girls feel like they’re not good enough. A father’s message of acceptance and love is the best antidote to those images. But be specific in your compliments. A detailed observation makes it clear that you’re not just feeding her a line to make her feel good.
- And the final way to handle it when your daughter says, “I’m fat”. Make your fitness an issue. If you tell her you want her to be healthy – she’ll see right through you. And she’ll translate that as, ‘Dad wants me to lose weight’. So make it about you. Tell her your doctor says you need more exercise to help your blood pressure and would she be your training partner. You’ve just killed two birds with one stone – you’re both going to lose weight and you’re going to spend valuable time together. And that’s a recipe for sky high self-confidence for a teenage girl.