Challenges Fathers Face Raising A Daughter

Every father faces psychological and cultural barriers on the way to full engagement in a daughter’s life. We must understand these hurdles to be effective fathers and stepfathers—or to work effectively with fathers and families. These hurdles may seem silly, unnecessary, or insignificant to others. But they are not silly, unnecessary, or insignificant to fathers.

We grew up as boys.

We simply have no experience in what it’s like to grow up a girl. As one man puts it, “I’m not sure what a father to a daughter is supposed to be, since I was a son.”

Our growing daughters are sometimes a complete mystery to us, no matter how much we love them and want to connect with them. We’ve been wondering, “What is she thinking?” since they were little. Believe it or not, a father can begin to learn what she is thinking, open up communication, and strengthen the bond, but he must first ask for information and guidance. This brings us to the second obstacle.

We’re Stereotyped.

In our culture, Dads are either invisible, inept second-class parents , or all-knowing superheroes. Most people (including fathers) believe that mother is best suited to be the primary and most influential parent. That mindset can be found everywhere, from the school nurse’s office to sitcoms. How often does the school nurse contact a sick child’s father at work to arrange for her pick-up? Is she aware of his phone number? Watch the sitcom daddy who can’t figure out which end of the baby to put the bottle in or who gags when changing a diaper. That is the stereotypical image of Daddy as a dummy.

The opposite stereotype is depicted in shows like “The Cosby Show,” where Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable has a wife, children, a beautiful home, and the wealthy lifestyle of a high-salary OB/GYN. It’s a fantastic, funny show full of wonderful examples of family (and fathering) respect and support. Cliff, on the other hand, never seems to go to work or deal with outside stresses. He is always available, raising wonderful children in a wise, loving, and humorous manner. No real man gets to live a fantasy fatherhood like Cliff Huxtable, despite the fact that many fathers judge themselves based on how close they are to Cosby. The tragic death of Mr. Cosby’s son highlights how unrealistic this stereotype is.

The Protector Predicament.

“The first time a boy comes calling on my daughter, I’ll be out on the front porch just casually cleaning my shotgun. Because I was his age once; I know what he’s after and I want him to know it.” – Tony

We long for a single word or action powerful enough to protect our daughters, despite the risks and dangers. If only a shotgun could solve the problem! This overprotective shotgun-on-the-porch attitude conveys to a daughter the message, “Daddy doesn’t really trust me.” He doesn’t believe in my ability to choose good friends or in my ability to choose good friends. He doesn’t think there are any good boys out there.” “This girl’s father expects me to be a predator,” it says of a daughter’s romantic interest. Whether he knows me or not, if I call on his daughter, he sees me as a threat. He believes that is how all boys are, and perhaps how all boys should be.He’s also telling me that the way to address fears or solve serious problems is with violence or the threat of violence”

Our fatherly fears are not irrational, foolish, or unjustified; they are grounded in reality; for example, one in every three girls (and one in every five boys) will have been sexually abused by the time they reach adulthood. Some adolescent girls do become pregnant, contract STDs, and face other challenges that last a lifetime. But the boy walking up the front steps is not the source of our fears, and the shotgun is not the solution. The perpetrator is a culture that glorifies violence against women and girls, romanticizes rape, and accepts child sexualization as a viable marketing strategy.

Even before romances begin, it’s a good idea to look back into our own adolescence and look for the “real boy in there.” “Sure, some of it was physical, but the majority of it was a desire to be close to a girl, to learn what girls are like, and to have a friend. It was thrilling. It was perplexing and frightening, but it was fantastic! I want to share it with my daughter, both the good and the bad, from the boy’s point of view. And I can do it because she pays attention to me. I feel like that’s a significant piece of information, a gift, that I can give her that no one else can. I’ll be able to tell her what other young men her age are thinking.” – James

Our daughters are not growing up as boys, just as we did not grow up as girls. We can share our knowledge and expertise about what it’s like to be a boy with our daughter. That’s invaluable to a girl attempting to decipher the mysterious minds of the “opposite sex.”

The Provider Predicament.

Boys learn as they grow up that a father’s primary role is to provide for his family. That’s a useful skill to have. However, far too many men abdicate that responsibility. And far too many of those who remain associate the key word – provider – with their bank accounts.

Because men still earn more than women on average, it often makes financial sense for dad to work more hours than mom (an ugly, sexist reality). However, this way of life necessitates a significant trade-off, which we rarely openly acknowledge. As one father puts it, “I realize that I don’t have that much of an internal relationship with Amelia because I work.” That’s unfortunate, because there’s always something you’re missing. You’re always doing something and separated from each other, so you don’t communicate as much as you should. I am deeply sorry that I have not done enough for her. I haven’t been as present as I should have been.”

The Silence of Our Dads.

Who can we talk to about raising a daughter (or even being a father in general)? Women discuss motherhood all the time: with their daughters and mothers, with each other, at the water cooler, with relatives, and at parties. They always seem to find a way to talk about – and to – their children. Fathers are more likely to discuss the complexities of baseball free agency than the complexities of fatherhood with one another. Dads don’t learn much from each other unless they have fathering conversations, and osmosis doesn’t work.

What we’re dealing with is a generational cycle of silence about fatherhood, and intelligent people know where generational cycles of silence lead. Many of our fathers were withdrawn and distant from the rest of the family, preoccupied with work, booze, or exhaustion—if they stayed around at all during our childhood. This leaves little room for father-son interaction or questions about fatherhood. In comparison to what mothers typically learn from their mothers, most fathers are flying blind from the moment their child is born.

Meanwhile, the way our fathers did things doesn’t always make sense today. Here’s a different father’s voice: “How do I go about doing this?” There is no one here to show me what to do, and the roles have shifted—both their mother and I now work full-time. Is it possible that I’m being too squeamish? Are you being too strict? Is it just me trying to win the argument, or do the kids really need to know that I don’t always know what’s best for them? How are they going to make it if I don’t lay down the law? Setting the rules, on the other hand, does not teach them to think.

Of course, that is one of the potential benefits of all this old blindness and uncertainty. Today, men can invent new ways to father – and many do (particularly younger men). They break the Dads’ Silence and begin talking to their children and each other about how they’re handling this gig. This is a thrilling prospect for them and their families!

Solutions for Dads With Daughters

Every father and stepfather has the ability to make a significant difference in his daughter’s life. The first man a daughter meets is her father. With the powerful position of “first man,” comes the ability to set the standard of manliness for her—a standard that, in the end, can be stronger than anything anyone else tells her. When we truly listen to our daughters, we reduce the chances that they will be trapped in a cultural straight-jacket that limits their options and behavior due to their gender. We can combat the effects of the gender straight-jacket by never requiring or expecting our daughters to wear it when they are with us – giving her a sense of freedom that she may not have elsewhere.

Solutions: Communication

Rather than how she looks, I concentrate on what is truly important: what my daughter thinks, believes, feels, dreams, and does. My daughter’s self-esteem is greatly influenced by me. When I appreciate my daughter for who she is, I give her the confidence to use her talents in the world.

Communication can solve any problem, whether it is a national or an international dispute. Make an effort to communicate with your daughter; she requires verbal comfort. You must teach your daughter how to communicate her problems and ensure that she is more than willing to explain everything to you. When you’re talking to her, don’t think of yourself as her Dad; instead, become her friend. Tell her about your experiences and how you dealt with such issues when you were younger.

Solutions: Alone Time

People learn best from their own experiences, so let your daughter be on her own, sometimes, as she approaches adolescence. She will not understand what achievement and heartbreak are unless she has experienced them. Yes, you can always assist her and guide her based on your experience and knowledge. However, it is critical for her growth that she learns and experiences life in her own unique way.

Solutions: Get Involved

I help out as a chaperone and read to her class. I ask questions like, “Does her school have programs for media literacy and body image awareness?” Is it okay if boys or girls are sexually harassed? Do boys take more advanced math and science classes than girls, and if so, why? ( Doug Kirkpatrick, a science teacher in California, noticed that his female students were uninterested in science, so he changed his curriculum.

I offer to drive, coach, direct a play, teach a class, or do anything else! I am calling for equality. A Texas mortgage officer and volunteer basketball coach, was so disgusted by the gym his 9-year-old daughter’s team had to use that he fought to open the modern boy’s gym to the girls’ team. He was successful. Dads make a difference in the lives of their children.

Leave a Comment