Bringing up a daughter seems like a Herculean task, even more when you are a single dad. The attitude, communication and ways to bring up a daughter vary from raising a son. The problems and emotional difficulties of a girl are different from that of a boy. This makes the prospect of raising a daughter, all on your own, into a scary one. However, with care and loads of patience, a good dad-daughter relationship is very much possible. Here are seven ways in which you can build that relationship.
Unlike boys, girls always communicate openly. It is important to hear what your daughter has to say and just by listening patiently, you could win her trust. Start at the beginning by reading out stories to her and taking her opinion on what she likes and dislikes. During her teen years, communication becomes a vital means to establish a connection. Discuss common interests and be receptive to her opinion. This will make her confide more in you and trust you. Winning your daughter’s trust is very necessary to balm any misunderstanding that may arise in the near future. As your daughter grows, be prepared because the communication naturally becomes difficult.
2. Seek help
There is absolutely nothing wrong in seeking help of a female mentor for your daughter. All said and done, the gender difference does make a difference! Remember that this is not a ‘replacement’ for the mother but a confidant for the girl to divulge in her ‘girly’ stuff. The female-female bonding helps here. Just ensure that this female mentor – an aunt, a sister or a friend – is someone you and your daughter trusts. You could also seek help from the many support groups that exist.
3. Be there for her
Since you are the only parent, your daughter will look up to you as the solid support of her life and you should become one too. You must be there for her when she needs love, care and strength. There will naturally arise some topics that may embarass you. For instance, when she comes of age, she will look for your support while purchasing her bra and underwear. You will also have to be ready to discuss topics of menstruation and birth control. Be gentle and loving. At the same time, be careful not to pamper her. Strictness is definitely needed at times. If you threaten to punish her, make good of your threat ,else you will be considered as an ‘easy’ dad who can be exploited.
4. Avoid over-compensation
In trying to be supportive, there is a danger of over-doing it. This may happen by showering material gifts or by a refusal to punish in any way. Ensuring that your daughter does not get even a hint of difficulty is actually bad for her. It will make her completely dependent and she won’t be able to develop and blossom fully. Support her by all means, but make her independent. Instead of doing homework for her, offer to go through and check it in the end to suggest improvements.
5. Be an active participant
Dads usually find it easy to be proud of their sons, for they identify easily with them. Being a single father, you will have to make extra efforts to understand and appreciate the achievements of your daughter too. Attend all the school functions and her important programs. Get involved in her education and show her that her efforts and work, mean a lot to you. Research has shown when parents get involved in the education process, the child does better in school and university.
6. Acknowledge your situation and shortcomings
Being an adult, you will definitely feel the need to bond with an adult. There is a common fear that the woman you are dating will dislike your daughter or vice versa. It is important to confide in your daughter and assure her that she will always remain the numero uno girl in your life. Again, it would be good that you accept your mistakes and faults. Though it may seem strange, confiding your faults and weaknesses to your daughter makes her admire and respect you more. It will also make her trust you more.
7. Find common ‘grounds’
Do not get restricted by myths that girls only like shopping, dressing and other ”girly’ activities only. You will be surprised that many of them do enjoy biking, fishing and for that matter, soccer too! Again, you may also love activities like cooking and gardening which she likes. Spend more time together in these common-love activities. This will help in strengthening the dad-daughter relationship.