Ep 192: Dads And Daughters

Episode Summary

Kimberly Wolf, author of Talk with Her, joins us to talk about the challenges facing dads when it comes to raising teen daughters. Plus, what to do when teens rebel against what we believe in, and how we can create safe spaces for our kids to be vulnerable.

Show NotesInterview TranscriptGuest Bio

Full Show Notes

Raising a girl in today’s society comes with so many challenges. Young women are juggling puberty, sexuality, academics, friendships and more, all while trying to navigate the pressures of the online world. The constant presence of social media puts pressure on teens to have the perfect body, the best clothes, and the coolest friends–basically to live an impossibly perfect life! When teens are obsessing over Instagram, suddenly wearing crop tops,  fighting with all their friends and declaring that they’re failing chemistry….it can be easy to feel like there’s no possible way to help them get through it all.

To make matters worse, our teen girls aren’t exactly receptive to talking about any of it. As young women inch closer to adulthood, they tend to resent taking any advice from parents, and it seems like everything we say just makes them mad! But just because girls are changing, doesn’t mean we can’t still be an important part of their lives. This week, we’re helping guide you towards having more positive, productive conversations with your daughters, especially during such a critical period in their lives.

Joining us today is Kimberly Wolf, author of Talk with Her: A Dad’s Essential Guide to Raising Healthy, Confident, and Capable Daughters. Although her book focuses on dad-daughter relationships, Kim knows quite a bit about how all parents can cultivate healthy communication with their girls! She’s an educator and speaker who holds both a bachelor’s in gender studies from Brown and a master’s in human development and psychology from Harvard! Her education as well as her own personal experiences growing up as a girl inspired her to dive deeper into the struggles of today’s young women.

In our interview, we’re covering what you can do to maintain a positive relationship with your teen, even when they start to reject the values you raised them with. Plus, what to do when your daughter leaves the house in an outfit that’s a little more revealing than you’re used to, and how you can signal to your kid that you’re open to hard conversations whenever they’re in need of support!

Navigating a Teen’s Changing Identity

Kids are still figuring out who they are, and adolescence is a period of experimentation. Kids are not only forming understandings of sexuality and body image, but also values and spirituality! Although you may have raised your kids to think one way, this adolescent period is when they might begin to diverge from your teachings–and we’ve got to learn to be ok with that, says Kimberly. In the episode, we talk about how kids approaching adulthood are experiencing a tumultuous inner confusion over what to believe and what to value, and how hard it can be on parents.

In particular, many parents can grow frustrated over an adolescent’s religious choices, Kimberly explains. During this period of change, teens question everything: their clothes, their friends, their personality–so why wouldn’t they question their faith as well? Although it can be a pretty emotional topic for parents, Kimberly suggests taking a rational approach, and letting kids find their own religious reasoning. As free-thinking individuals, they’re going to take their own stance on religion anyway, says Kimberly, and trying to force them to conform to what you believe will only drive them further towards rebellion.

If we want kids to follow the same practices that we subscribe to–whether those practices are religious, nutritional, social, etc–Kimberly recommends simply setting an example. Kids are pretty observant, and if you show them how your lifestyle benefits you, they might actually come around to it. In the episode, Kimberly explains how teens tend to drift from the teachings of their parents, but often return to those values later in life.

As young women are going through these rapid changes, they tend to find themselves dressing differently! They’re navigating sexuality and body image, leading to some outfits that can make parents a little uncomfortable. In the episode, Kimberly and I are talking about how we can handle these sudden changes without ostracizing or shaming our daughters.

Are My Daughter’s Clothes Too Revealing??

When we see a teen about to head out with quite a bit of skin showing, it can make us a little nervous. Our head might be swimming with thoughts, worrying about their safety and wondering what people will think. It’s tempting to vocalize these worries to teens as soon as we see them, and we might even want to send them back upstairs to change! But surprisingly, Kimberly recommends against saying anything at all. In her research she’s found that most teens do not react well when parents comment on what they’re wearing.

Instead,  Kimberly encourages parents to do some research! It can be helpful to ask around to other parents, school staff members and other people in the community to see if your teen is dressing in a way that’s particularly out of the ordinary. As she explains in the episode, kids are often dressing this way not necessarily to sexualize themselves, but just to fit in with current trends. Teens tend to cherish the approval of their peers and want to create a curated image on social media, so they often wear these more revealing styles as a way to blend in. 

Although we can be quick to assign these clothes to our teens’ “bad” choices, we also have to realize that our daughters are under intense scrutiny as young women. The pressure to perform, fit in and buy what’s being marketed to them can push them towards dressing this way. Plus, some teens just feel more confident in garments that are more flattering than those which are baggy or loose fitting!

Although we might want to avoid a conversation about clothes, there are plenty of other things that we may want to communicate with our teens about, whether that’s friendships, sexuality, or puberty. And even though teens can sometimes run screaming from these kinds of talks, there are also ways we can help them feel safe being vulnerable.

Helping Teens Open Up

One common thing that can inhibit conversations between parents and teens is the ever changing vernacular teens seem to have about tech, sexuality, fashion, and politics. Parents may not know the definition of words kids throw around when describing their sexual orientation or their political standing. Kimberly says we shouldn’t stress this too much, and if we don’t know what teens are talking about, we should just ask! Prompting our teens to teach us something is a really valuable way to show them that you want to listen, learn, and take the time to care.

In the episode, Kimberly and I talk about a specific scenario parents often find themselves in–when a teen comes to you, telling you that a friend of theirs is in a bad situation. Kimberly explains that sometimes teens are framing this as a friend’s situation instead of their own situation, even when in reality, it’s your teen who’s going through it. This helps them deflect judgment from parents, by removing themselves from the potentially incriminating details of the story. 

If your teen comes to you with a scenario like this, Kimberly recommends remaining calm and reserving judgment! This will help your teen feel more comfortable coming to you in the future, knowing they won’t be judged or blamed for doing the same thing as their “friend.” Sometimes, these situations really are concerning a teen’s friend, and might even have to do with drama amongst your teen’s group of friends. In the episode, Kimberly and I talk about how the advice we give in these situations is critical, as it prepares teens to solve conflict maturely and confidently in their adult lives.

In the Episode…

There’s so much wonderful advice packed into my interview with Kimberly. On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about:

  • How we can stop micromanaging our kids
  • Why controlling behavior is counterproductive
  • How we can stop taking teens’ rejections personally
  • What we can do to keep girls from becoming people pleasers

If you enjoyed this week’s episode, check out more from Kimberly at kimberlywolf.com! Don’t forget to share and subscribe and we’ll see you next week.


Complete Interview Transcript

Andy: You have this new book, Talk with Her. You, pretty much, cover every possible topic that could possibly come up between a dad and a daughter. And you would have questions in the end about questions that dads often ask you themselves and their own issues that they might be wondering about.

Andy: So, I mean, it’s comprehensive. You said you spent, basically, decades preparing to write this book. What do you mean by that and how did you know it was finally time to write it and how did it come about?

Kimberly: When I say that it took me decades to prepare to write this book, I’m really talking about my early inspiration for the book, which came consciously when I was in high school. I went to high school in Los Angeles and I went to an all girls school.

Kimberly: I think I’ve always been really interested in women’s health and well-being and girls health and well-being. That just came to me naturally, a calling, if you will, something that I’ve always been passionate about understanding. And as a high school student, the issues and the challenges faced by adolescent girls were on full display.

Kimberly: For me, I had my own struggles, things I was thinking about, stuff related to achievement and where I was going to go to college, and also mental health, managing stress. At a time I was college bound things were picking up speed with regard to college admissions becoming more and more competitive. The impact of the media was increasing. That was about 20 years ago, so the influence of the Internet was just beginning, and digital media, texting, this ever-connectedness, if you will, that we experience now.

Kimberly: So those were some of the things I was thinking about. And for my friends, too, we were all feeling our way through and stumbling through as adolescent girls have since the beginning of time. And by the time that I left high school, I knew that I wanted to create better resources for girls. I already knew that when I was 18, and I went to college and I majored in gender studies. And I’ve always studied at the intersection of education entertainment and of girls’ wellbeing, specifically. And I’ve taught boys as well. I’m a sex educator by trade and that’s evolved into love education, and I’ve taught all genders of students my whole career. But having been a girl myself, I’ve a particular insight into that experience.

Kimberly: And so I went to college, I studied sexual health content in 17 Magazine for my thesis. I worked in entertainment for a long time. I went and got my masters at Harvard where I studied human development and psychology with a focus on the influence of media on adolescent health and wellness. I’d always been, again, focused on girls and it was later in my career when I was meeting with male media executives who happened to have teenage daughters and we were talking about the resources I could create for their platforms.

Kimberly: But what ended up happening is they started asking me for personal advice, and I realized, which I write about in the book that, for a very long time, I had taken the influence of fathers for granted, including that of my own father. And that was a real turning point for me in my career because I’d been really focused on students and I’d always been an educator for parents. I’ve always talked at schools and conferences and organizations and companies educating parents about their teens. But when it came to the specifics of father-daughter dynamics, that became a passion and an interest for me later, just because I hadn’t really been thinking about it. I’d just been thinking about the teenagers and this is what they’re going through.

Kimberly: And so I got really into the research around father-daughter relationships and there is a lot. It’s not super publicized. It is not by any means-

Andy: No.

Kimberly: … the amount of research that exists on mother-child relationships.

Andy: Yeah. Right.

Kimberly: Even in recent years, I think the figure was that the research on fathers and fatherhood is about one sixth of the research that’s been done on mothers. So that was something to address.

Kimberly: Then I asked my … And I talk about this in the book, and I asked my dad, I said, “Dad, was it harder for you to raise my sister and me than it was our brother? Was it really that much different and that much harder?” And he looks at me and he goes, “Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Without a doubt. Yes, yes, yes.”

Kimberly: And so I started looking at the research and it’s just fascinating. And so when it comes to, again, people would tell me, “How long did it take you to write this book?” The inspiration really sprung a couple of decades ago and then it’s been an evolution for me and my understanding of girlhood and development and coming to understand later in my career, the real depth of impact that fathers can have on their daughters.

Kimberly: And in the book I talk a lot about my own experience because it turns out that, in a lot of ways, my dad was really [inaudible 00:04:54] the research that we have now. He did a lot of things that were next level back then. He’s also a really dynamic guy. It’s really fun to tell stories about him. So that’s how the book came to be.

Andy: You told me that one of the things you want to do with the book is inspire, make people feel, “It’s okay. You’ve got this,” which I love. But you do actually say, you point out at one point in the book that there are some things you can do to mess up your daughter. And one of those is being controlling. Wow.

Andy: So you talk about, yes, being controlling and authoritarian and micromanaging. What does that look like? And why is that so damaging?

Kimberly: So what does it look like? It looks like micromanaging her schoolwork, it looks like making comments and criticizing her even if you think they’re being funny, it looks like making negative, demeaning and discouraging remarks, as I write in the book. And also just exhibiting controlling behaviors in other places.

Kimberly: I’ve seen this with fathers who are really intense about homework, “You will sit with me and you will finish this. And you will wear this.” Or, “You can’t wear that.” Or, “You can’t date.” And there’s going to be a real rebellion there. Controlling behavior is really … I think it goes without saying that it makes people feel suffocated, it makes people feel trapped, it makes girls feel like they can’t be themselves, it lends towards this people pleasing, it gives rise to this expectation that all men will treat her that way and will try to dictate what she can and can’t do.

Kimberly: So interesting that you picked that up because that is one of … Well, you’ve read the book. And that’s one of the places where I say, “Look, it is going to be okay. And there’s a lot that you’re doing right. And I’m not going to judge you. I’m not going to tell you exactly what to do, except if you have been exhibiting these behaviors, you’re going to be in trouble.”

Kimberly: And you think a lot of it comes from a well-meaning place and having a teenage daughter can make people feel really out of control, especially in this day and age. A major theme is that it seems like parents are powerless over the cultural forces that be and the peer influences that take a much more center stage as girls grow up. And so there can be a reaction where it’s, “No, I’m still in charge here,” right?

Andy: Right. Yeah. Cling tighter and you feel powerless. You try to reassert your authority.

Kimberly: Right.

Andy: And I think in some ways it’s a natural human tendency. It can be toxic.

Kimberly: Absolutely. And, girls, they see themselves as adults from a young age. I mean, I think middle school time, we see them as kids. They feel much more grown up. There are a lot of kids that they are older than at their schools and their-

Andy: Ah.

Kimberly: … siblings and they really feel very adult. Again, adults don’t like being controlled by other people.

Kimberly: Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t be a parent, that you can’t set boundaries, that you can’t make your values known, but hold too much of a grip, you shut down communication. What you really want is ongoing communication and ongoing open conversation about all topics, no matter how difficult or complicated.

Andy: Yeah. An interesting discussion in the book about spirituality. I think that it can become really difficult for a lot of families in the teenage years when kids start to question their spiritual beliefs that you raise them with, and it is not easy to navigate. And I think that’s also another place where it’s easy to fall into the more controlling authoritarian, “This is what we’re believe in this household. You will come to church and this is what’s going to happen.”

Andy: I wonder what alternatives there are or how we could think about this situation in a more collaborative way or have more constructive conversations with teenagers who are questioning the beliefs that we have tried to instill in them?

Kimberly: First and foremost, it’s always important for parents to remember that it is completely natural and normal for kids to challenge beliefs, especially in adolescence. To go out on their own, to bounce ideas and identities. Faith is obviously big and core to identity and to family identity and to family values.

Kimberly: But in the same way that kids are questioning their personal style or who their peer group is or what kind of person they are, they’re questioning faith. That’s another aspect of their identity. There’s a lot of obviously emotion and I think emotion is … Really, I was going to add another word. No, I think really it’s emotion. I think it’s a deeply feeling topic of faith and religion. And I think that it is natural, again, for kids to move away from parental beliefs and adolescence often. That is not to say that they’re not going to return to those beliefs later on.

Kimberly: And that’s one of the most important and interesting pieces of research that I always appreciate and find a lot of solace in for parents is that you just want to hold the line. You just want to keep talking about how important it is to you. You want to talk about how faith works in your life. You want to set an example.

Kimberly: There was recently a quote by Mark Wahlberg. He was talking about faith and he was saying, “Look, my girls are going to see me practicing and they’re going to see me at church and maybe one day they’ll say …” And I’m going to not getting the quote exactly right and I won’t take our time now to look it up … “But maybe they’ll say, ‘Look, it works for my dad. Maybe it could work for me too.'”

Kimberly: And so it’s about, not necessarily … You’re not always going to get places with teenage girls if you’re, “This is what I believe in. You’re going to believe this too.” And I think that that is pretty obvious. Though, at the time, you really feel, “Well, this is what I believe in. You’re going to believe this too.” But they’re going to totally push back on that.

Kimberly: And so what you want to do is focus on the big picture, draw them in in the ways that you can, expect that they are going to explore faith in their own ways, that they may move away from your faith, that they may move away from it permanently. It is very possible and very common for kids to move away from faith in the adolescent years and then return to their parents’ value set later on in late adolescence.

Kimberly: And so you just want to keep going and talking to them about what’s important to you, setting an example. And when it comes to faith in their lives and the impact that I can have, I always find that it’s really effective to … And kids listen. They listen. When I’m in schools, teaching the facts, “I believe this and you should believe this,” that doesn’t always get to them.

Kimberly: However, having a source of faith in your life, if it’s religion or spirituality, however people couch it in their homes, can help you feel centered. It gives you a community to come back to. It can help you feel connected. It connects you to other people. It connects you to the history of this family. What are the facts around faith that you can help your teenager understand? I think those are some places to focus. And then also just if they’re not necessarily buying into the religion necessarily at a given moment of time, how can you build in other spiritual practices and what do those look like? Perhaps a non-religious prayer, perhaps a walk in nature. What does it mean for her?

Kimberly: So I think, again, it really is about remembering that they’re not necessarily going to believe or buy into, or even if they do, they might not even just want to give you the satisfaction of letting you know at that time because that’s part of individualization, as well. But thinking about where can you meet them with faith and where can you meet them when it comes to spirituality? Where are they at and how can you help foster it and keep the conversation going while also not worrying too much that you’re going to totally lose them? Because whether it’s faith or whether it’s their activities or anything that you’ve taught them, you’re going to have moments more than likely in their adolescent years when you feel like you’re losing them. That’s very natural, no matter the topic.

Kimberly: Just hold the line and just keep talking about what’s important to you and setting an example and seeing if you can work in little spiritual practices with them.

Andy: Yeah, yeah. That’s so cool. A friend of mine was just talking about how she had grown up in a Christian family and she then started to question that when she was in adolescence. And she started, instead of praying at meals, she just started just giving gratitude before eating and talking about things that she was grateful for. And it was a way for her to also just share this more with her family and still have so much of a spiritual time that she still does actually.

Andy: So there’s opportunities for things like that that you can adapt and modify and think, “What’s the intent behind this?” And if you’re not so forceful with … Sometimes when we feel we’re being forced to do things, then we really rebel against them. Whereas, when we feel we can modify it ourselves and take ownership of it, then it might be something that we internalize and actually carry you forward.

Kimberly: Right. And it’s a lighter example, but it’s like when you invite somebody to a party and you’re, “You’re coming to this party. You’re going to party with me. It’s my holiday. You’re going to party with me. We’re partying together.

Andy: Have fun.

Kimberly: Have fun. We’re going to have fun. It’s going to be great. I don’t care what else you’re doing. I don’t care what other plans you have. I don’t care what your thoughts are on this. You’re going to come to my party.”

Kimberly: That doesn’t work as well as, “Hey, we’re having a party. Do you want to come by? We’d love to have you.” It’s important to just think about … It’s hard in the moment being parents but … And this book, again, it’s not just for fathers, it’s for fathers’ figures. I’ve heard, it’s going to be … People have found that it’s helpful as coaches. We think about, “How are we making these kids feel?”

Kimberly: And, in the moment, we’re not always going to be able to think about how we’re making everybody else feel all the time because we’re dealing with our own emotions. But what is the vibe that we’re creating? What is the feeling of these conversations? How are they going? And trying to keep them more collaborative more often.

Kimberly: We talk in the book about how it’s really important to talk to your daughter like an adult. Talk to her like you would talk to your friend. What tone would you take? What words would you use? Obviously, you want to be age appropriate with details on certain topics so that she doesn’t get scared or overwhelmed or something like that. But, again, they see themselves as adults and so they revel in being talked to and leveled with in that way. And even from a young age, from sixth/seventh grade forward, I really see it and that’s where I start working with young people, is really in middle school forward.

Kimberly: And just talk to them. How would you talk to a friend? And I think that’s also a really useful tool for parents to be thinking of when their own emotions get heightened because the relationship that people have with their kids is pretty heated and emotional and the stakes seem really high, especially when it comes to having big conversations around things that matter to parents most.

Kimberly: And so if you can dial it back it can be an interesting tool to say, “How would I talk to a fellow adult about this? How would I …” I wouldn’t raise the temperature of this conversation or what would I do to lower it? And that can be a really useful tool.

Andy: If your kid decides that they aren’t into some of the things that are important to you, then it feels really bad. It’s like someone breaking up with you. And I mean, really, they’re just deciding that this relationship isn’t right for them right now, but it feels like such an attack on you personally. And I think so much of parenting is like that too. It’s, “What? What? You don’t want to do ice skating anymore? But that’s my thing,” and whatever.

Andy: And so it’s hard to separate yourself from that a little bit and let them make those choices without it feeling so personal [inaudible 00:16:45].

Kimberly: Yeah. And it’s that feeling of rejection, I think, that is really the baseline of a lot of the hurt. But they’re not necessarily in that space where their girls are not saying, “I’m going to reject you and everything you’re saying.” Or adolescents, in general, but that’s how everybody feels. And I think that’s part of parenting anyway as kids go through ebbs and flows and there are things that we want and hope that they’ll do and they won’t, or they don’t want to right now. And it’s about learning to ride that wave and get comfortable with a little bit of a lack of control. That’s a difficult one sometimes.

Andy: One of the first things you mentioned when I was asking about control is, “You’re not going to wear that.” I thought that was another thing I marked in your book, talked about, because I think it’s such a father-daughter interaction.

Andy: And I noticed actually to quote Lisa [inaudible 00:17:33] here, who we’ve had on the show also, she had some great ideas about this. What do you think? How can fathers approach this dynamic in a more productive way when we see our daughter wearing something that just feels too sexual or revealing or not in line with our values?

Kimberly: Absolutely. I think that we should really start from a place of, don’t say anything. The rule is don’t say anything about what your daughter is wearing. It’s not going to go well for you. I think we don’t want to have too many hard and fast rules like that, but I think that’s just a really good starting point on this particular one. And it’s not to say you can never say anything,-

Andy: Right.

Kimberly: … but don’t say anything right away. It’s really important to Unpack and Untangle, to use the title of Dr. [inaudible 00:18:37] book.

Andy: Oh, there you go. It’s like she has thought about it. Obviously, she knows what the implications are of where this … And she’s choosing to do it anyway.

Kimberly: Well, it’s even also that they don’t even know. What we see as very sexualized clothing is not necessarily how they’re tracking it. As adults and especially fathers, I mean, that’s just a big one. That’s a tale as old as time, “The boys are going to see you and the people are going to see you and they’re going to think one thing about you and this is going to be your reputation. And then maybe one day you are actually going to have sex and that’s really terrifying. And I don’t even want to think about any of this.” It really spirals.

Kimberly: And the sexualization of young girls is a big problem. And one of the things I talk about in the book is not blaming her for that. A lot of what’s going on is that it’s not necessarily that the girls are choosing all of this, it’s also a problem in what is being advertised to them and what is being offered to them and what the trends are. And we can see that as problematic, and it is, but it’s not the girls’ faults.

Kimberly: In addition, the risks that we perceive, that parents perceive as being associated with suggestive dress, are also not girls’ faults. And so it’s really delicate to handle these conversations because, one, again, the girls aren’t necessarily thinking that, “This is sexual dress.” They’re just want to feel pretty. They just want to feel their best selves, they’re looking at what the examples are in broader culture and their peer group about what is appropriate dress.

Andy: This is what people wear.

Kimberly: This is what people wear. And I tell a story in the book about how I used to get in trouble all the time because my skirt was too short and I was growing really fast all the time and I was pretty tall kid. But I was, “It just looks ugly when it’s longer.”

Andy: Right.

Kimberly: And I wasn’t really thinking about anybody else. I was just thinking about me. I was, “I just don’t like it when it’s longer.”

Kimberly: Basically. I think that the reason I say take a beat and don’t say anything is that there is a lot of fear around girls’ dress and it’s tied to the sexualization of young women and all of the things that could potentially flow from there. And the truth is, is that the way that girls dress, again, has to do with what are the community norms? What’s going on in her community and her peer group for her age group, for her general cultural context? Fathers will think a whole bunch of things, “Those shorts are too short. That dress is too revealing. I don’t like that color. I just don’t like that outfit,” whatever it is.

Andy: Right.

Kimberly: It’s best to have a conversation with another adult in the room, make sure that you feel you’re on point. I suggest you can call a school counselor even and say, “Hey, what’s going on with this?” This book is about, “Look, here’s the baseline of questions you should be asking and information you should have. And here is how you find more information to make what I am telling you the most relevant possible for your daughter’s specific context and circumstances.”

Kimberly: And so dress is a big one of those and it is very personal and it depends very much on context. And so you don’t want to go off outright and just say, “I don’t like that.” Or, “That’s too sexy.” Or, “People are going to think you look slutty,” for instance. And that has been said many times over the years too frequently. And, “People are going to get the wrong idea about you. Or you could be attacked.” Or you just want to … Again, think, “Okay.” Think to yourself, “I’m really not cool with this. I don’t like the way this looks at all. But before I say anything, anything at all …” You don’t have to say, it looks good. You just have to be, “Oh, okay.” Just do your best to keep a straight face, go have a conversation with another female adult in the room, ask what her advice would be on this.

Kimberly: I talked to a bunch of moms throughout the course of this project, as well, and one of them told me she had grown kids by that time. She had two daughters in their late teens, early 20s. And she said, “He used to get so confused because they would change their clothes three times before they went to watch a football game at their school. Why are they doing that?” he would say. “That seems so pointless and they’re wasting so much time and they’re late. And what’s up with that?”

Kimberly: And she knew. She was, “Look, okay. Both of them are going. Their crushes are going to be there. They want to get it right. And this is what’s happening for them.” And it’s really easy to mistake adolescent girls’ behavior if you haven’t been in it before and to diminish it, or minimize it, I guess, is a better word.

Kimberly: And so just go ahead, and if you have questions about what your daughter is wearing, don’t say anything out of the gate, check in with the other women in your community, see what they would say about it. Ask questions about what are the norms? What are some sound bites you think might work with my daughter in terms of saying what I think about what she’s wearing and what else can I do? And maybe also how can I calm down about this? Because the women in your life will help you feel a little bit better about that.

Andy: I love that. And I think when we have intense feelings, I thought about something, we need to talk about it, need to get it out there, but it’s not necessarily productive to just immediately get it out there to our daughter. So-

Kimberly: And female dress is such a nuanced topic and it is tied to identity and it is tied to body image and it is tied to body confidence and it is tied to body positivity and it all is all wrapped up in cultural trends, many of them problematic about how girls are positioned and looked at and marketed to in our society.

Kimberly: And so for the men who are really concerned about this or for whom those moments come up and you want to fix it right away and you certainly … I definitely picked friends up in high school, we were going to parties, and they came out the door wearing one outfit and then by-

Andy: Right, yeah.

Kimberly: …the time they got to the car, they had taken off their big hoodie and they’re wearing [inaudible 00:24:43] or whatever the case may be. Just know that that’s a normal thing. Dresses are especially heightened because it actually is much more loaded of a topic than are you okay with the top that she’s wearing or not? It’s a much more broad and complex topic and it stokes a lot more emotions than other topics do, as well.


About Kimberly Wolf

Kimberly Wolf is the author of Talk With Her.

Kimberly holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University, where she earned honors in gender studies. She wrote her thesis on the history and evolution of sexual health content in SEVENTEEN magazine.  She also has  a master’s degree in human development and psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Forbes, NPR, The Representation Project, and DrGreene.com. She teaches a course for high school students called Kimberly Wolf’s Love Class, an exploration in self-love, relational communication, and sexual health. She collaborates regularly with other media producers and entrepreneurs.

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Find Kimberly Wolf on her Instagram, and Twitter.