I have a daughter who is in the grips of a social media encouraged self identity crisis. For the past 15 years nothing has ever made me, her mother, or herself double think her gender identity. However, recently social media and a club at school have caused her to be socially engaged into dabbling in a gender identity that doesn't match her biological sexual identity. This has historically never been an issue and I fully believe this is not an internal situation but rather a social situation. As a concerned and caring father how can I address this and bring my daughter back to the identity I truly believe she has and truly believe she herself holds internally despite temporary social influence which is pushing her away from that?

Please do not frame challenge me. That is against the rules of this site.

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    @AsheraH no it does not as the top answers propose frame challenges which are against the guidelines of this site. I am seeking a genuine answer which does not reject my premise that my daughter is a biological female.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 18:16
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    For those who do not already know what a "frame challenge" is: What's a frame challenge?. However, I think the answer to "how do I address this as a father" has a wide variety of valid answers, many of which may consist of what some might consider to be a "frame challenge". If you set out to "fix" your daughter, then your own point of view might really be the thing that needs fixing. Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 20:05
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    @AdamHeeg The cost of you getting this wrong is potentially very high. Why not accept that you could be wrong and seek a second opinion(preferably from someone with experience in the topic)?
    – user130558
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 23:30
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    I'd consider updating the title to better reflect the question asked in the body. Your key question is 'bringing her back', not 'addressing the situation' and you might get better responses if that's clearer.
    – Erik
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 12:28

1 Answer 1


If you believe outside influences are contributing to this situation, first remove said influences. Restrict, or eliminate social media. Does she have a smartphone? Remove it. Facebook account? Suspend it. These artificial feelings of connection ruin adults every day, and they're even worse for young children who need real people to help them make sense of the world. These artificial realities allow them to create private worlds, tailored to whatever they want. Young children do not have the necessary context of real-life experiences to be able to discern between the "healthy" and "unhealthy" messages vying for their attention. Give it all the axe.

Removing these artificial connections will create a vacuum. She will be upset. It will feel like you are ruining the reality she has crafted, and honestly, she will lash out. Be prepared for it. Take it. Own it. Tell her you love her, then move immediately to phase two.

If you are truly committed, you must follow through, and fill this vacuum you created with real human connections. You must be patient, and you must be unwavering. Spend time with her, not in watching TV, or any other "passive" activity. Play games together. Go to a museum. Go to antique stores. Ask her what she likes. Learn her, and find ways to incorporate those likes/dislikes into your time together. You must dig exceptionally deep, and be brutally honest with yourself in finding ways you (yes you Adam) have failed to meet her needs. It's easy to say "someone led our children astray", but if we're really honest, at what point were we as parents no longer their "go-to"? When did they start looking outside the home for fulfillment and validation? Don't beat yourself up here, just be honest in identifying where you missed beats. Speaking from experience, this is incredibly hard. If you are married, your wife will be able to help you here, if you're brave enough to ask. (You know, Pandora's box and all...)

A father has tremendous responsibilities to the well-being and development of his wife and children. This takes an incredible investment of time. Cut back hours at work. Plan things for the two of you, with no other agenda than just to invest in her. Treat it like "courting" your daughter. Most men know what it's like to court a woman. You do surprising things. You take risks. You make sacrifices just because you want her in your life. You give her the absolute best you can. You are patient, and you never, ever give up. You persevere, and eventually, you win that treasured heart.

As men, we tend to attack challenges head-on. If something's broken, we find the problem and fix it. If you frame this in the context of "we have a problem to fix", you will likely fail. That is unless you realize the problem that needs fixing is your relationship with your daughter. The love shared between father and daughter is unique, and more special than anything in the world. It transcends all boundaries. It's like an innocent little romance, unfettered by things we drag around with us in "normal" romances. A father can reach his daughter better than any other person on earth. Capitalize on that. Bring her close to you. Create significant time and space in your life, not to fix her, but to fix your connection with her. Ask her questions. Learn what she thinks about things. As you grow to know her more, all that noise will be drowned out by the calm, loving voice of her father, and she will love you all the more for it.

Sounds hard? It will be, but nothing worth doing is easy. Plan on one to two years of intentional, busting your butt work to bring your daughter close to you. Pace yourself. Create a new "normal". Read books together. Go on bike rides. Adopt a kitten. Involve your wife (if married), but do not neglect that one-on-one time. As you move into the new normal, remember teens need their friends. Bring her friends over to your house, and stay close. Monitor and supervise. Our job is to protect our family from all kinds of things; bad influences are tricky.

I applaud you for standing up for her. Do not be swayed by the world; she was given to you for a reason. Find that reason. Identify your strengths, your weaknesses, what you can do about it, and make every day count.

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    Wow, an honest and non-frame-challenging answer. +1! Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 23:47
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    I would just add that its normal (and in fact desirable) that adolescents start to separate themselves from their parents as part of a journey to becoming an independent adult. So the answer to "When did they start looking outside the home for fulfilment and validation?" is probably "When puberty hit. Its got nothing to do with you." Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 13:06
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    I'd suggest church groups might also be a good idea for fostering real human connections.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 3:59
  • This was the most beautiful thing I've read on this topic in a long time, and as a father of a child that's going through this, I have read an enormous amount on this topic from a wide variety of sources. Everything here rings true. Thank you Mike Petri. Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 12:56

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