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I have been a single father to my two children- a sixteen year old girl and a fourteen year old boy- ever since my wife separated from me eight years ago and married another man. I have had extremely anxious moments balancing my work and my family life, but I appeared to be doing it quite successfully until I noticed that my daughter hated associating with boys in her class.This was quite surprising to me because she spends a lot of time with me at home and never seems to be uncomfortable in the presence of a male. In fact, she hangs out with me far more often than she does with her younger brother.

All the friends she brings home are girls and I have never heard her talk about the boys in high-school. I interrogated one of my daughter's friends and came to know that the boys in her school find my daughter extremely good looking but my daughter absolutely "hates" these boys and calls them "stalkers".

A couple of days ago, we were watching a cricket match. I was rooting for England but my daughter had a presentiment that Australia would win. When I disagreed, she promptly bet me a kiss to a box of her favourite chocolate that she was right. Without giving the stakes a second thought, I accepted the wager. As it turned out, I won my bet with her. She was a bit disappointed to be honest, but proceeded to kiss me on my lips. I had expected a kiss on the cheek and found my daughter's behaviour greatly disturbing.

I have tried to convince my daughter that at this age, she should get over her attachment to her father and look for young boys to give her company, but she never seems to understand my concerns. She responds by telling me that I am the only "boy" who loves her for something more than her good looks. I have a feeling that the boys in school objectify her. I do my best to ensure that she isn't persecuted by such boys but I do not think a few boys can represent the entire population of males in the world.

When I expressed my discomfort about the kiss, she wanted to know why the loser kisses the winner in tennis matches? I rarely watch tennis so I couldn't reply of course.

I often have heart to heart talks with my daughter. She did tell me about her aversion towards boys but I interrogated her friends just to be extra sure she wasn't being harassed. I have found it difficult to bring up the topic of sexuality as it is considered a taboo subject here in India. Also, I haven't been able to explain to her the difference between a kiss on the lips and a kiss on the cheek. I expected her to learn from her friends but she probably hasn't.

Culture: Indian Christian

How can I wean her off me?

Edit: She often gives me hugs and cheek kisses but this is the only occasion when she has shown her affection in an inappropriate way.

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    "I interrogated one of my daughter's friends ..." How often do you have heart to heart talks with your daughter? What are they about? Maybe the boys she knows are objectifying her; have you ever spoken of this, or any other feelings she may have about boys vs. girls? "...at this age, she should get over her attachment to her father and look for young boys to give her company, but she never seems to understand my concerns." How does she respond? Do you understand her concerns? How do you respond to her concerns? There are a lot of unanswered questions in your post. Also, culture matters. – anongoodnurse Jul 13 at 14:09
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    Were/Are you dating or in a relationship with women since the separation of your ex-wife? And if so, is your daughter aware? Sometimes children of single parents feel responsible for making sure the remaining parent isn't alone. Making sure they know that they are not responsible and you take care for yourself in this regard might help your children to find their own path. – Arsak Jul 14 at 8:23
  • No, I haven't been in relationships with women since the separation. I'm afraid I am a bit old-fashioned ! I have often assured my daughter that I do have a few good friends who ensure that I am not alone. – D'Souza Jul 14 at 10:57
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    You did answer one (or two) of my questions, but not enough of them. By heart-to-heart talk, I mean about deeply personal matters (i.e. not cricket). Finding out that she hates the boys in her school from a friend - and not her - is a matter of concern. Why does she hate them? Have you asked her? What was her response? Etc. Thanks. – anongoodnurse Jul 14 at 12:42
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    I myself didn't become interested in boys until a bit older than my peers did, closer to college age. I thought the highschool boys were silly, rude and rather gross, but it didn't indicate anything deeper than that I was a slightly over-serious teenager. Does she generally offer you physical affection that seems inappropriate, or was it a single event? – Meg Jul 16 at 20:44
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First, I have to say how impressed I am 1) that your daughter is able to know how she feels about the attention she gets from boys and is able to say that she doesn't want or appreciate it (even if more to her friends than to you) and 2) that you are such a caring father you are seeking more information from others. I value humans who are humble enough to look for help when they know they need it. Namaste! Many girls in our American culture 'dress to impress' and are looking to get much attention from boys... and of course most of this attention is based on how they look. I believe it makes the girls feel 'worthy' 'valuable' 'special'. The fact that your daughter does not cave into this and can feel good about herself without desiring the extrinsic accolades is to be congratulated!

I am also very impressed with your daughter for understanding the kind of attention the boys seem be giving which may be more superficial versus the attention that she gets from you, which is heartfelt and compassionate. Good for her!

I personally believe that having her kiss you on the lips is a display of her complete and utter trust in you. It is the highest compliment. I understand that it made you feel uncomfortable. My husband also does not like it when our children (I have a 15 year old daughter) try to kiss him on the lips... He prefers the top of the head or the cheek.

I think it's important to understand WHY you feel that way. It comes down to your perspective. My husband associates lip kissing with more of an intimate (and sexual) act. For him lip kisses are reserved only for romantic relationships.

I, however, was raised in a very affectionate family... Both my mother and father would kiss my brother and I on the lips. At 47 I still do. It is a peck on the lips and only lasts a second. To my family, it is considered normal. Our children have had both modeled... They have learned "Dad doesn't like that" and "Mom thinks it's fine"... Sometimes my children will kiss me on the lips (I have five children ranging in age from 17 to 9 ... all boys and the one girl)... Sometimes they put their cheek forward for me (Usually when we are in front of non-family members)...

We honor both ways of doing things. The few times I've talked about it alone with my kids, they have sort of asked "What's wrong with it?" and "Why is Daddy uncomfortable kissing me?"... like they get the impression there is something wrong with him or something about kissing on the lips might be wrong. I've explained that we all have our own comfort levels and there is no 'right' or 'wrong' ... just 'individual' and it's important to be honest with others about your level of comfort and it's equally important to honor what others need to feel comfortable. That means that each and every relationship has it's own boundaries, of necessity, to accommodate individuality.

I am a LITTLE surprised your daughter would kiss you on the lips if this has not been part of your history and if it has never been modeled... but again, I believe it is her way of showing you explicitly, the level of trust she has in you. It makes my heart very happy for you!

In regards to her feelings about other boys in general... My own children are also exploring their feelings about the different genders. My daughter has told me she feels she may be "asexual"... in that she feels completely uncomfortable with the idea of anyone touching her or kissing her. I believe that will change as she gets older, but I've made sure she knows that no matter what, her feelings aren't 'wrong'.. and wherever she lands with a relationship (or non-relationship) will be fine with me.

My daughter's best friend, who is 16, has had similar reactions to boys as you describe for your daughter. She doesn't like boys at all. Ultimately, she now has a girl friend and defines herself as lesbian. She gets support with this identity from her mother, but not from her father. She visits us regularly and I can see how hard it is for her to know that her father can't accept her sexuality. I do my best to let her know that when the time comes she will be able to embed herself in a community that is fully supportive.

I know for myself, I would hate for that community to EVER not include me for my children, so I have made it clear to them that no matter what... they will be loved and accepted.

NONE of this is to say that I think your daughter may be gay or asexual or anything... Just that there are MANY possibilities and you may never know unless you find a way to broach the topic with her directly. I believe that NOT talking about topics with our kids... by the very absence of it.. it sends a message that the topic is 'bad' or 'inappropriate' or 'wrong'... In reality, it's just part of human nature and every human has a sexuality... whether they talk about it or not.

I would ask you to look inwardly to yourself and find out how you might feel if your daughter doesn't end up liking boys ever... would you be ok with that? What are your ultimate hopes for her? Is it ok with you if your vision of what would be acceptable is not what would make your daughter happy? Also, consider that just by saying to her that she needs to develop relationships more with the boys at school... She MIGHT interpret that as your way of saying there is something wrong with her... so please consider the message it can send to her.

I like the answer that Meg gave above, describing that she was behind her peers and didn't like boys until College. I believe that each person is unique and they should follow what feels authentic and 'right'... I'm guessing that you would ultimately prefer for your daughter to begin to like boys on her own accord rather than to do so superficially just to please you? If so, consider accepting this for now the way it is without feeling the need to 'fix' it.

Truly... to me she sounds like a girl who is putting her priorities in the right order right now... and she's being true to herself. She can't have gotten there without great modeling from you :)

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