How dads can form healthy relationships with their daughters

Raising children requires a great deal of effort and investment.

It is particularly challenging for fathers bringing up young daughters, explains clinical psychologist Zamo Mbele.

It is important for dads to play an active role as parents and help prepare and protect their girl children.

Mbele says fathers should not be naive about the differences between raising sons versus raising daughters.

One needs to be very considerate about how to raise a daughter in a society which is full of subjugations and oppression... It's much harder to be a girl or woman in the world.

Zamo Mbele, clinical psychologist

He advises that men need to be aware of their position in society, predominantly as perpetrators of sexual violence in a time of ongoing patriarchy and gender inequity.

Mbele explains that fathers are responsible for showing their daughters that not all masculinity is violent by modelling positive behaviour and being warm and considerate .

There can be something reparative and transformative about re-positioning yourself as not a perpetrator, for yourself and your relationship with your daughter.

Zamo Mbele, clinical psychologist

He says fathers need to educate themselves as much as possible to help relate to their daughters and he also talks about the importance of discussing 'penis envy' with daughters in the early stages of childhood development.

Mbele unpacks the dynamics (and often discomfort) around discussions about sexuality, anatomy, setting boundaries, tackling sexual trauma and other issues.

Take a listen to the full Family Matters feature where fathers called in to share their experiences:

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