This morning, I noticed someone found this blog by googling, “How do fatherless girls gain confidence”. It wasn’t hard to imagine the mother of a fatherless girl googling that, or even the girl herself.
Whoever it was most likely landed on a post I’d written last year in which I attempted to summarize a few differences I’ve encountered between girls raised with and without fathers. In that post, I tried to make clear I was speaking only of my own limited observations and not recounting science. The post ended on these dark notes:
In general, the difference [between women with and without fathers] was this: The fatherless women were less self-confident around men than the women with fathers.
For instance: The fatherless women were less likely to assert themselves. They were less likely to let men know what their boundaries were. They were less likely to be strong individuals around men.
On the other hand, the fatherless women were more likely to be relatively obsessed with their boyfriends. They were more likely to be emotionally dependent on them. And they were more likely to cling to relationships in which they were being abused.
So that’s where I left it last year — without at all dealing with the question raised this morning, “How do fatherless girls gain confidence?”
Unfortunately, that’s an important question these days. More and more girls are being raised without fathers, and some studies suggest it can aversely impact the girls’ lives. For instance: An international study released in 2003 found a strong link between the absence of a father and adolescent pregnancy. Girls whose fathers left before they were six years old were about five times more likely in the United States — and three times more likely in New Zealand — to get pregnant during adolescence than were girls whose fathers stayed with them. Yet, finding “statistics” on fatherless girls is one thing, finding good statistics from reputable sources is another. From what I’ve seen, there appears to be a ton of questionable stats out there and not much gold. But it gets even worse when you go hunting for information on how a fatherless girl can gain confidence.
I could find almost nothing on the net that actually addressed that question. I think that’s a pity because, as I recall, many of the fatherless girls I’ve known were less self-confident around boys than girls raised with fathers. Which in a way was quite odd because several of my fatherless friends were extremely competent in other life skills. Harriet, for instance, had planned meals, made grocery lists, and cooked suppers for her family since the fifth grade and, by the time she was in high school, she probably knew more about nutrition than some dietitians.
So I’m going to risk discussing how a fatherless girl can gain confidence around boys — but with this strong caveat: I’m not an expert and don’t know for certain what I’m talking about. My own father died when I was two years old, but I faced the problems of a fatherless boy, rather than those of a girl. I’ve been friends with a handful of fatherless girls as they went through adolescence, but that is certainly not the same as being a qualified therapist. And I’ve heard countless adolescent confessions, but I was usually empathetic at the time rather than taking notes. So, the only real qualification I have here is no one else seems to be offering fatherless girls any advice on how to become confident. And that’s sad.
Having said all that, here’s “Paul’s Brazen Advice” to fatherless girls on how to gain confidence with boys:
Confidence comes with success. That’s true regardless of what you are talking about. It could be gaining confidence with boys or it could be gaining confidence driving. Each step you succeed at builds up your confidence. Each step you fail at tears down your confidence. So take small, manageable steps — especially at first.
I’ve known fatherless girls (and even girls with fathers) who rushed into sex in order to please boys. That’s a mistake on several levels. For one thing, it’s not taking things in small, manageable steps. Make the boy court you.
Courtship is basically the process of making friends with someone you might want to have sex with. Don’t rush it. In my 51 years, the best relationships I’ve seen all began as friendships and involved courtships — sometimes long courtships. As one person (who has an outstanding sex life) recently told me, “My husband and I have always been friends first and foremost. The fact we’re also lovers is icing on the cake.”
You have a right to resist any pressure to rush things — and it is a test of genuine friendship that your real friends will respect that right of yours, while your false friends probably won’t. So, if you loose a few “friends” because you’re marching to your own drummer, keep your chin up and march on. They weren’t real friends.
So my advice on how to gain confidence with the boys is to take things in easy, manageable steps. I realize that it might be easy advice to give and yet difficult advice to put into practice. More importantly, it is by no means comprehensive advice. There are so many other things I might say, but for which I don’t have room here.
If I had just one piece of advice to offer a fatherless girl, that’s the advice I’d offer her. If any fatherless girls are reading this, please let me know — either in the comments or by email — whether any of that makes sense. Also, please tell me a bit about yourself. And for everyone: What advice would you yourself give a fatherless girl on how to gain confidence with the boys?
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