Dear Straight Talk: I'm a 15-year-old girl with a twin brother. I love my father very much but he has little interest in doing things with me. Every weekend he takes my brother to sporting events, golf, or camping. I am never invited. I recently worked up the courage to tell him that I wanted to be included sometimes, but he said that a father and son need bonding time, and that I should spend time with Mom. Frankly, I'm more interested in the experiences my dad and brother have, while my mother has no interest in these things — plus she and I already spend lots of time together. He doesn't understand how much this hurts. My brother has tons of souvenirs in our room from their adventures, which are a constant reminder. How can I make my dad understand that spending time with me is important, too? — Left out
Elise, 18: I grew up with two older brothers and a father who seemed to love them more than me. He was always coaching their sport teams or taking them to concerts. I never had the courage to talk to him about it, and now that I'm older, I realize how much I missed out. My advice: tell your mother and ask that the three of you talk about it together. Your father loves you and if you are clear about your hurt, he will spend more time with you.
Brie, 17: This is a tough subject because I am in the same boat. My dad never wanted to do anything with me even when I did things he liked, like golf. I think you really have to sit him down and seriously tell him how much it hurts. My relationship with my father is extremely strained because I never had the strength to do this. Now we hardly ever spend time together.
Shelby, 17: You might just have to deal. My dad never went to my gymnastics meets or basketball games, but now that my younger brother plays basketball and soccer, he goes to all his games and even lots of practices. I make up for it by having fun with my friends. I have pictures and souvenirs all over my walls of things we have done. If he doesn't want to spend time with me, I go have a blast anyway, he is the one missing out.
Katelyn, 14: Tell him it hurts. Sit him down and make him listen. I know from experience that favoritism, even unintentional, hurts the whole family. Tell him you don't need more mother-daughter time, but you do need time with him. Have an activity in mind and explain its mutual benefits. Be obnoxious. Be annoying. And don't give up!
Maureen, 17: Keep telling him! With persistence, maybe he will catch on. My friend and her dad have daddy-daughter time once a week. It gets postponed sometimes but they really make the effort. Your brother isn't the only one needing a male role model. Girls pick future husbands based on the man they are most involved with.
DEAR LEFT OUT: Your situation is sadly prevalent and has more repercussions than parents realize. From reading the panel responses, you are ahead of the curve because at least you have broached the subject. Now, do as the panelists say and stick with it. Prepare for him to be thick-headed on the topic, though, and don't hesitate to show him this column.
Dads: Maureen is right about girls picking their husbands based on you. Do you want your daughter attracted to a guy who constantly places her second? There are many “adventurous” young men out there with addictions who will do just that.
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