How do I help my husband and my daughter stay close now that she's a preteen and he's suddenly hands-off?
It is very common for fathers to find themselves uncomfortable with their pubescent teenage girls. It is an awkward time for both of them. As she develops into a woman, he may find himself looking at her differently, reacting slightly differently. He may worry about her growing sexuality.
Is it OK for him to still put his arm around her, to hug her or to comfort her if she is upset? Many men find themselves confused by some of their reactions as well as concerned about possibly being seen as inappropriate with their daughters—so concerned that they pull away. This is incredibly natural.
Unfortunately, what many of them don't understand is that this is one of the times in her life when his little girl feels most fragile. If he backs away, if he is less affectionate, the perceived rejection has a terrible impact on her sense of self, her self-confidence and her body image. She needs him.
If he is not comfortable talking with you about it, he might be willing to listen to another father—especially one who has a daughter and who understands what he is going through. If you don't know anyone who could help, maybe you could give him something he can read about it. For instance, Dads and Daughters is a very good family-relationships Web site where you can explore this topic in more depth.