The dual role of father and husband is a challenge that increases when mothers and daughters have conflicts. As teen girls mature into womanhood, mothers often feel challenged by their daughters. When those feelings lead to conflict, the father is usually the person tasked with mediating. A man who understands both positions in the conflict will find ways to resolve the conflict and strengthen the relationship between his wife and daughter.
Dads should choose neutrality during a conflict says Mary Jo Rapini, a psychotherapist and author. Rapini says dads who find themselves in the middle of a mother, daughter conflict do not need to be louder than their wives and daughters, but must be the voice of reason, giving equal respect to both parties involved in the dispute. Rapini suggests that a father verbalize admiration for both his wife and daughter when they successfully resolve conflict.
Encourage a Pause
Rapini explained, the initial verbal battle that ensues when mothers and daughters clash, is often emotional and passionate. At the peak of emotion, disagreements turn into yelling matches. Rapini notes that fathers are often ignored or avoided because neither his wife nor daughter wants him to intervene. But dads should not ignore the battle. Once Dad determines nothing productive is coming from the exchange, he should suggest the pair calm down and continue the discussion later.
Promote Effective Communication
Rapini encourages men to offer suggestions on alternative forms of communication during conflict. Writing each other a letter or an email expressing personal feelings is effective. Another tactic is helping both parties state their feelings in a less confrontational manner, which allows both people to express themselves without the interaction becoming volatile.
Rapini explained today's fathers are different than the men who raised them. Dads of the past were providers who did not engage with their families as much as fathers do today. Numerous studies suggest fathers who actively engage with their families, experience better marriages, and raise children who are emotionally healthy, and better prepared to face life. Having a father and husband who is involved with his family, can only enhance the family structure.