We are very aware that there are many Dads out there who are keen to learn how they can be of greater support to their daughter as she navigates her way through adolescence. Education on Adolescent Gynae Health is a relatively new thing and as such there are few reference points. For some Dads, the topic can create a lot of discomfort. Our view is that if Dads are informed and educated in this area, they will be able to have open discussions with their daughters, removing awkwardness and any sense of taboo around the subject.

My Dad

I remember my dad with great warmth and affection. He was always available, reliable, tolerant, and interested in what was going on with my 2 sisters and myself. We felt safe, seen, cherished. He provided humour in the often highly charged atmosphere of a household of 3 girls and my mum: a bit of balance and perspective on the drama of the day.  He was a primary school teacher, a job which allowed him a lot more time at home than most dads at the time.

Needless to say, (back in the 70s) we never discussed any issues of a gynae nature with my Dad.  Painful, heavy, irregular periods were considered normal in teenagers; and being moody a normal part of growing up. There was minimal information available and no understanding that adolescent girls could have any gynaecological problems. Adolescent Gynaecology as an entity was only developed in the 1990s as awareness of issues, and more importantly solutions to problems became available.

New work practices

Post pandemic, more fathers are working from home, either whole or part time and many have embraced a more hands on approach to family life. A recent article in the Irish times on Father’s Day interviewed several men post pandemic who are delighted to be more involved with their children’s lives. Being available to do the school run, helping with homework, being at home more, having time and energy during the day to play has strengthened the father child relationship and brings a different energy into the household.

1. Love and support

Your daughter does not need a perfect Dad, just one who loves her. As she negotiates her journey from the safety and consistency of childhood into the unpredictable and sometimes scary world of adulthood, she needs love and acceptance.  And Fathers are ideally placed to provide this support and offer a male perspective.

Allowing her to express and feel her emotions without judgement or dismissal is a good place to start, even if you don’t understand them. Resisting the temptation to try to fix things, give advice or judge is important. Providing a safe supportive space is the most important thing. How many of us are really asking for advice when we’re upset? Most of us just want to tell our story and be heard and nurtured.  With your support she can learn to accept and ride out uncomfortable feelings, appraise a situation and take calculated risks: all life skills which are learned only by experiencing them.

2. Be the person you want your children to be

Our children are constantly learning from our attitudes and behaviour in all aspects of life.  If work is all consuming, family take a back seat, and this sends a message to the children that this is normal, making the dad a peripheral figure in the home. How you behave in in the home, at a game of football, with neighbours, is a powerful demonstration of how we should value others. Prioritising family time, being a good role model in how you treat your partner is very important for both sons and daughters. Being open, understanding, supportive and respectful to women sets the example for what your daughter will accept in future relationships.

3. Share your own teenage stories

Sharing stories from your own childhood and adolescence can help develop a closer relationship. Hearing about your own experiences can help your daughter appreciate the difficulties encountered by young men and can take the place of giving direct advice. This can help her develop healthy expectations and boundaries in relationships. I would love to know more about my Dad when he was growing up in the 1940s. Such a different world to my teenage years. I treasure the few stories he told me and I wish I knew more about him and his life as a young man.

4. Get informed

Nowadays we have so much information that it is difficult to know where to start. Much is ill informed and often misleading. What we offer in My Girls Gynae is practical, evidence-based information on adolescent gynaecology.  Our on-line video course ‘All about Periods’ could be an ideal tool for fathers who want to learn more. It provides answers and solutions to common issues and is a handy reference tool available whenever you need it.

Explore our course