Daughter Turning to Dad

Q: My husband and I have been married for ten years. We have two beautiful daughters, ages 12 and 14. The other night while we were playing a family board game it dawned on me that my 12-year-old is closer to my husband, whereas I guess I am closer to my 14-year-old. I don't see that as being a huge problem, but it does concern me when I think that my other daughter usually goes to my husband whenever there is a problem. I guess this has been a thing for quite some time but only now am I realizing it. I want both my kids to come to me when there is a problem. But every time my 12-year-old has an issue, she always goes to my hubby. When I try to chime in, it's as if I'm being ignored. My husband thinks it cute. I do not. -Nikki, 35

Dr. Anna: It seems that a child having two trustworthy parents in her life is a good thing. Why is it important which of you she chooses to go to for advice? What's really upsetting to you here? Sit down and take a look at your own emotions. Are you feeling worried that she doesn't trust you or worried about your relationship with her? Consider that the more you try to push her to open up, the less comfortable she's likely to be. Open communication is built on a sense of trust and safety—pressuring her to talk to you or pushing yourself into the conversation between her and her father is likely not going to help. If you want her to be comfortable with you, work on creating a safe, trusting space for her and let her know you are available for her when she needs you.

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