Today we are sharing an article from a different perspective: a single dad's perspective. Daniel Sherwin from Dad Solo shares his thoughts on raising tween girls.
Your daughters are moody tweens on the precipice of the hormonally-charged teen years, and looking for advice from a maternal parent. You’re a father with little experience on fashion trends, makeup techniques, perfecting the social media selfie, and boy gossip. Being a parent to tween girls can be complicated, and being a single male parent to female tweenagers, even more so.
Let’s look at some common problems single fathers face with preteen girls, and how you can go about solving them in order to be the most successful parent you can be.
Problem: You’re not good at ‘girly’ things
Many men can feel inferior about their ability to solely provide what daughters need.
Solution: Break down the traditional gender barriers that exist between maternal and paternal parenting by following these father-daughter rules:
● Show your daughters women who are winning in male-dominated fields.
● Dress like a queen to her king.
● Schedule a family pedicure.
● Teach your daughters about what boys are going through at the same age.
● Encourage girls to embrace their inner “tomboy” or “girly girl.”
Problem: Everything’s a negotiation
Preteen years are often characterized by the initiation of negotiations. Where you once were able to say, “Clean your room,” and have it followed with a resounding, “Okay,” you’re now handling deals about homework, family time, screen time, and just about everything else.
Solution: Remember that negotiating with your children in a respectful, non-emotionally charged manner can demonstrate for them some important problem-solving skills, so it’s important to not always say “no” in the heat of the moment. Instead, try to understand their request by effectively listening to and understanding it. All too often, it’s easy to bark out a “no” before they’re even finished talking. Figure out why it’s important to them, and try to find a good middle ground.
Problem: You’re questioning your sanity
As a parent, it’s easy to question if we’re making the right choices for our children and ourselves. As mental health experts note, “The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety, and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing.”
- Do you have a solid support system? It’s always important to ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. A single parent won’t always be able to manage everything, and you have to accept you’ll need a support system to back you up. Enlist family and friends that live close by to help attend after school activities, run carpool duty, or cook a healthy meal during a busy time.
- Are you spending most of your time focusing on things that make your children happy? If you’re constantly searching out things that bring joy to your children, chances are that you’re not focusing on things that make you happy. Sound mental health can only be achieved when you’re enjoying things that you’re passionate about, too. So be sure to set aside quality “me time.”
- Are you comparing yourself to the Joneses? If you’re comparing what life looks like across the street to your life, you’ll be headed for plenty of anxiety and depression. We tend to idealize what someone else’s life situation looks like when we don’t actually know their reality. Focus on your family, and what’s best for you and them.
Problem: The mood swings are killin’ ya
So you’re having a hard time getting used to laughs immediately followed by tears, slamming doors, competitiveness, and a whole lot of boy-craziness. Welcome to the emotionally volatile times that are the preteen years.
Solutions: Here are some important things to keep in mind.
● Listen, listen, listen. By acknowledging your children’s feelings, you’re giving them a safe haven for sharing what’s bothering them. This will come in handy for the rest of your parenting years.
● Hormones are partially to blame, so help your children understand how to manage the changes.
● Before dealing with conflict, allow proper space for calming down.
● Incorporate healthy eating and physical exercise to help counterbalance hormonal changes.
Remember, a successful parent isn’t determined by gender. You can be everything your daughters need. By role modeling for them successful problem-solving, excellent listening skills, compassion and empathy, and gender-neutral roles, you’ll be setting them up for a lifetime of success.