Last But Not Least - June 2012
By Lisa Robinson
So you like Daddy better than me? I recently put
that loaded question to my 13-year-old daughter, Grace. It’s just that she
and her dad have a special bond, she tells me. Well, that’s okay.
When I pick Grace up from school and ask how her day was I get, “Fine.”
“Did you learn anything new?” I ask.
“Then I need to ask for my tuition back,” I say.
To which she replies, “I can’t talk about it now. I’m tired and I’m
Apparently, those are the needs a mother, or at least this mother, is supposed
The minute her father steps into the house, she is all about
talking—running on sentence after sentence about her day.
Did I not ask those same questions?
Did I not want to be in the know? But
I am not Dad.
“He's fun,” says Grace. “He never really complains. You usually want me to do
stuff before I get to get what I want. Father lets me get what I want. Then I
do stuff in return, as a favor,” she says.
Okay, Grace. Fine. But why do girls her age prefer their
fathers, I ask her.
“Mothers are too similar to us,” she explains. “Most of the time--since
you are a carbon copy of us—you make us do work and chores. Dads
don't necessarily do that unless you do something horribly wrong.”
And what does Daddy give you that I can’t? “Basketball!” she exclaims. “He
gives me helpful feedback. We have many inside jokes. You're hilarious,” she
continues, “but you’re the hilarious type that is like me. And I don't really
want to hear myself twice.”
I know. I set myself up for all of this criticism, but still I wanted some
professional help. Really I wanted someone to validate my thoughts about
it all. So I emailed the man dubbed “America’s Psychologist” and a regular
on NBC’s “Today Show,” Dr. Jeff Gardere and asked if
there’s a time when adolescent girls just adore their fathers and shun their
“We see what is called the Electra complex early in life, where the daughter
competes with her mom for the attention of her father,” writes Gardere. “However, we also see that in adolescence a girl
may favor her dad over her mom because on an instinctual level, the male
presence becomes important in her life and a preparation for the dating years
that are to come. Dad becomes the idealized male.”
There are fathers who are excellent with their daughters, Gardere
adds, and who develop a very strong bond through the years. We call them a
I admit it. I was a daddy’s girl.
I asked Grace why it is important for girls her age to have a strong bond with
their fathers. “Because when your mother is getting on your nerves, then you
have someone who is chill to talk to,” she answered.
Pressing my luck, I went out on a limb and asked her why girls her age dislike
their mothers and think dad is great. I got the answer of an adolescent
mind: “Mothers think they know it all. Maybe they do, but tweens/teens
especially at this age don't like hearing that. Dads are fun and don't
criticize you too much except for what you wear.”
I put the same question to Gardere. “I don't
believe they have ‘disdain’ for their mothers,” he notes. “Instead they may
favor dad over mom or believe that dad has a better understanding of their
needs. Sometimes daddies spoil the girls and the mothers become the
disciplinarians and the foils. Therefore, mom may believe that she is not
liked. But that is far from the truth.”
Whatever. I am tired of all of this drama. But apparently it is the
natural order of things. “There are those times where one parent is
favored over another depending on the needs, or even the conflicts that the
daughter is experiencing,” the good doctor tells me.
And, he advises, things will eventually change. “For many daughters,
especially those who are well-adjusted, daddy is replaced by the boyfriend.
However, in her heart daddy will always be ‘the man!’”
The doc says it’s important to encourage our girls to keep
loving their fathers and not make them feel guilty about the
relationship. “I guarantee they will love you, the mother, for encouraging
them to love their daddies,” he says. BC
Lisa Robinson is a news anchor with WBAL-TV
© Baltimore’s Child Inc.