Single fathers face challenges raising their children alone. Whether you are divorced, separated or a widowed dad, the challenges are very similar.
So, given the advice from those who have walked in your shoes, here are some suggestions for tackling this important task successfully.
Don’t go through it alone. Single fathers shouldn’t neglect the importance of a female mentor in the lives of their daughters. For some dads, a grandmother, aunt or other family member can take that role.
For other dads, it is the mum of a friend his daughter’s age. But finding a strong and capable female role model is critical to your daughter’s success in growing up. Helping your daughter connect to this mentor is a step you need to take.
Communicate. Many men tend to take an “I must fix it” mentality in their lives and their relationships. They tend to listen long enough to identify the problem, and then they are off on the solution.
Your daughters usually don’t want you to fix their issues; they would rather you listen for understanding. Keeping the lines of communications open requires time, patience and a willingness to make it a priority.
Teach her to be a problem-solver. Sometimes, your daughter needs a little coaching in terms of problem solving. Sitting with her and helping her think through an issue, develop alternatives and come to a conclusion tend to be counter-intuitive for some fathers.
But it is important to teach her how, and not to lean on you for solutions. Helping her develop good problem-solving skills will serve her well throughout her life.
Don’t rescue or over-protect. It is hard for men to learn to let their daughters struggle some with life’s problems and challenges.
If you overprotect her, your daughter will either rebel or become dependent, and neither of those outcomes is a positive. Allow some limited risks and she will learn confidence as she succeeds.
Be involved in her life. I think it is generally easier for dads to be involved with their sons’ lives than with the goings on in a daughter’s world. But as a single dad, your daughter needs to feel your support.
Attend her school contests, just like you would with your sons. Take her shopping occasionally. Be around the house when she has her friends around. Make opportunities to be together, and your relationship will grow.
Help her figure out guys and dating. Sometimes helping your daughter through the transition of puberty into adolescence can be a single dad’s greatest emotional challenge. You need to be up front and honest about these issues.
Help her understand why you are a little nervous about her developing relationships with guys or about helping her understand what is happening to her body, emotions and hormones.
And recognize that some things will just be awkward. Relying on your trusted female mentor for some of these issues will be helpful.
It can be overwhelming to raise a daughter as a single dad, but it can be done. And if you are sensitive to your daughter and invest the time in your relationship, you will find great satisfaction in raising a great daughter.