Being a dad to a teenage daughter is tough, but it can be a lot more difficult when you are a single dad trying to raise a daughter. Whether rendered a one-man show by death, divorce, or deployment, single dads have to face a number of unique challenges while raising adolescent girls. Understanding how your little girls feels about different things is never easy, but there are other more pressing issues.
It is never easy to talk about issues such as menstruation, female social development, and the establishment of positive make role models. Knowing all about cliques, cramps, hormones, makeup, and eating disorders can be quite challenging, but here is what will help single dads understand the right way to raise daughters while developing a warm relationship with them.
Talk To Your Daughter
Understand that your daughter comes from a different generation than you do. She will like different things, talk about different things. You may not understand why she like what she does, but the onus will be on you to be emphatic and patient about it (read more tips on raising daughters as a single father). You’ll have to do your best to connect with her — and that means attempting to do things that normally might be pretty strange to you.
The first step always comes down to you taking the first step in your relationship with her. And that means you are going to have to try to communicate with her.
Do Not Shy Away from Expressing Your Love
You know you love your daughter, but it is important that you show it to her as well. Understand that she needs your love much more than she needs your money. No one but you can help her feel secure and confident and your love will do the trick. Take every opportunity to look her deep in the eyes and tell her how much you love her.
Be a Positive Role Model
How you treat your daughter and the kind of relationship you two have will have a huge impact on her decision to marry one day. Understand that she will subconsciously look for someone like you. If you were not a good dad, it will be difficult for her to find a good person and build a loving, committed relationship. If your daughter says she will marry someone like you, it is a good sign and implies that you are an incredible dad to her.
Listen to the Genre of Music She Loves
You may or may not like the type of music your daughter enjoys, but you can make a conscious effort to develop a taste in that to ensure you two have something in common. When you have nothing to talk about with her, you two can still talk about her favorite music. Take her to her to a music concert, let her decide what music should play in your car, and appreciate her taste to build a positive bond.
Learn to Let Go
Just a little will do! Understand that things go wrong when you try to hold on a little tighter as she grows more and more. She may resist that can cause problems. This also makes it difficult for her to learn and grow on her own. Tell your daughter that you are always there for her. Advice her, guide her, but let her make her own choices and then see how those decisions turn out. Just give her a little freedom here and there to help her feel proud and responsible.
Do Not Be Afraid to Discipline
While it is not a good idea to hold on to her too tight, it is also bad to ignore all her mistakes. Tell her that she is always “Daddy’s little girl” but it is still important to adhere to the rules. You have to set clear limits and help her understand how important it is to set boundaries to be successful in life.
Stay Close to Her When She Becomes a Teenager
This is the most difficult period to be around a young girl. She may not be that easy to handle because puberty problems will make her behave differently. Never push her away at these times and understand that she needs your guidance. Listen to her carefully and stay tuned for all her interests and even boyfriends. A great idea to help your daughter during these tough times is to make friends with an adult female who you are not romantically involved with – your daughter’s teacher is a good choice. Tell your daughter that you can go discuss any “woman’s problem” with her teacher or you can ask her teacher to guide her and answer her questions about puberty.
Handle Little Girls Fights Carefully
Whether you have one daughter or more, you have to understand that little girls will fight. They may fight with their sisters or other girls. Unfortunately, it is nothing like boys who fight, hit, and get over it. Little girls will be with buckets of tears and emotional breakdowns after a fight. Do not get mad at her. Do not panic either. And never say something like, “I do not know why you are crying so much” or “do not cry; it is no big deal, honey”. Say something like this and you will hear her scream even more. During those post-fight tears sessions, keep your calm and simply hug your little girl. Let her cry it out and make her understand that you are the one she should come to whenever something goes wrong. Advice her only after she is done crying.
Play Her Favorite Sports
You need to cultivate a healthy lifestyle and even play your daughter’s favorite sports. Introduce your teenage girl to sports and encourage her to exercise regularly. Teach her that being a girl is not equal to ‘weak’. It is important for your little girl to have some athletic experience to be strong, successful, and confident.
Do Not Miss Her Life Events
Yes, you will have stressful jobs and so many other things to take care of, but you should never let your daughter feel that she is alone and you are never there when something big happens in her life. Girls are emotional beings and they take small things seriously. Be sure to attend school concerts, sports competitions, and other important events in her life. Set priorities wisely when you have to attend one of those events.
These simple things will make a huge difference in helping you establish a great relationship with your daughter. It is true that being a single dad, you have so many other things to handle, but never let those things change your relationship with your little girl. Revel in all stages of her life. Before you know it, she will turn into a grown woman. So, enjoy her childhood and help her be a confident young lady.
SingleDaddy.org (single father assistance resources / information in the US)
Dad House (homeless shelter for dads in the UK)
SingleParents.About.Com (info for single parents)
Public Benefits (US Government Assistant Page)