Raising a daughter as a single dad definitely requires certain knowledge. Here are 7 tips to guide you on your single dad journey!
by Kimberly Pangaro
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Trying to figure out what to expect while raising a daughter as a single dad is a topic that is not often covered on parenting sites. It is also a topic of conversation that often comes up in my home.
You see, I suffer from several autoimmune disorders, all of which could easily cause early termination of my life. Naturally, my husband is worried he wouldn’t be able to handle our four daughters all on his own.
Being the planning type of person that I am, I want to help him navigate his concerns– just in case I kick the bucket much earlier than we anticipate. With that in mind, I figured it would be great to share some tips with other dads of daughters, too.
So for all the single dads of daughters out there, here’s a few tips to guide you!
#1 Learn to wash your daughter’s hair properly.
Your daughter’s age will determine whether you’ll need this tip. Teenage girls are pretty good at managing their own needs. But if your daughter is under the age of 10, she will need hands-on help.
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind, the younger your daughter is, the more likely you will be doing all the work. But washing a girl’s hair is not as easy as it sounds. You’ll need to know a plethora of information to get it done well and safely.
- For children under 10, it’s always a good idea to have kids shower right before bed. This helps them fall asleep better and more calmly. If you have a little one under the age of 5, a nice bath rather than a shower is a better idea. If your daughter is in her teen years, an early morning shower will wake them up for school.
- Keep a wet rag next to you at all times, for wiping away any soap from their eyes.
- Always use shampoo AND conditioner. This will help keep their hair from being tangled after. Be sure to scrub their scalp in the process as it will loosen any build-up and will inspire hair growth.
- Always brush their hair after the shower, but use a detangling spray and wet brush.
- When shopping for shampoo and conditioner, purchase non-toxic brands. This will keep their hair healthy and hair follicles unclogged.
- When you are about to wash their hair out, have them look up to the sky with their eyes closed, and use a Tupperware or removable shower head to wash their hair out. Use your big palm to block any over spray from getting into their eyes.
- Be sure you get every ounce of shampoo and conditioner out of their hair. You will know you’ve done a good job if the water runs clear and the hair doesn’t feel slippery.
- When they are out of the shower, towel dry their hair. If their hair is quite thick, use a blow dryer, but don’t let the hot air sit too long in any one spot or you’ll burn their scalp.
- Finally, lay a dry towel on their pillow so they can sleep comfortably.
#2 Learn how to do different hairstyles.
YouTube is perfect for teaching dads to do a girl’s hair! It’s no secret that girls enjoy different hairstyles, even as young as 3 and 4. So it’s a safe bet, you will need to have a few tricks up your sleeve to give your daughters a stylish do.
Write the following hair styles down, as they are both basic and extremely easy-to-do. These will also be the hallmark for other, more advanced hair styles.
- French braids
- Half-up/half down
- High pig tails and low pig tails
- High pony tails and low pony tails
- Messy bun and tight ballerina bun
You will find easy tutorials from YouTube below. Suffice it to say, these videos will give you an upper hand in the hair care of your daughter.
Hair Tutorial Video #1
Hair Accessories Tutorial Video #2
#3 Learn about feminine products.
Girls go through a ton of stuff that only other girls can really explain. If you’re raising a daughter as a single dad, these may not be topics your keen on discussing. But it needs to happen because female bodies are very unique and require a certain level of care.
When we reach the breast development age, our breasts may sweat causing odor. Around the age of 5 and older, our armpits, private parts, and hair may start to smell bad as well. All of these will require the use of deodorant and frequent showers.
Eventually, your daughter will hit puberty and her period may start. At this point, you may have to show her what feminine products are available. This means you will need to learn about the different kinds of feminine hygiene products on the market. You will also need to know whether these products are harmful to your daughter’s future health, as some items may contain toxic materials.
To better guide you, it may be helpful to speak with a close female friend or relative who can help your daughter. There are also many YouTube videos and TikTok videos that talk about these sensitive topics. So if you’re feeling less than willing to participate in the conversation with your daughter, at least point her in the right direction. Here are some extra pointers in case you want to try to talk with your daughter:
- There will be an age where your daughter’s sweat starts making her clothes smell funny, where her hair smells dirty, and even her armpits could smell like bad body odor. It can start as young as 5 years old, but can also occur in their later years. Be ready by having deodorant and perfume in the home so they can feel and smell clean. Frequent baths and showers can help minimize this occurrence, but if they go to school, they’ll want to feel fresh all day and that comes with the use of deodorant and perfume.
- When a girl first gets her period, she should start on pads or even the Flex menstrual cup. If she chooses pads, she should aim to start with stage 1/level 1 absorption, and she should put a new pad on every 30 minutes in the beginning (aim to purchase a variety pack of pads/tampons with different absorption levels). This will help her figure out her own body, how often to change her pad, and how much blood is flowing.
- Buy your daughter a few extra black pieces of clothing: shorts and pants. She can wear these each month her period comes, especially in the beginning when she is still figuring out how often she will be bleed and how much. This will also help her in the event of leakage.
- Get your daughter an extra pencil bag or makeup bag from the local Walmart or CVS. In that bag, place extra pads, Diva cups, tampons, or whatever she chooses to use. Teach her to keep that bag in her backpack at all times. Explain that it is better to have extra and not need it, than to need extra and not have any.
- Make sure you remind her to write down the start date of her period in the calendar app on her phone or in her journal. You should also add it in your phone’s calendar as well so you can be reminded of when it’s time to add more supplies to your bathroom.
Hopefully, the tips above will be very helpful. But in case you’re not sure what period products are better to recommend to your daughter, here are two videos to help guide you.
#4 Learn about body measurements.
If you are raising a daughter as a single dad, you probably want nothing to do with shopping for her. But as daughters get older, they’ll likely need some necessary items like bras and underwear. How they get those items can either be in-person or online.
Luckily, in-person stores have fitting rooms so they will have the ability to try things on before purchasing. But online stores do not have this luxury. This is why knowing one’s body measurements is so important. By teaching them this nifty life hack, they’ll also be learning a life lesson that can even be used in adulthood.
Measurements that daughters need to know are their bust size (under the breasts and over their breasts in centimeters or inches), their waist size (just above their belly buttons), and their hip size (from hip bone to hip bone). To do this, you’ll need a soft body measuring tape. Have your daughters write these measurements down in their journals or phones. Remind them to take these measurements twice a year because bodily growth is unpredictable from child to child, and between phases of puberty.
#5 Learn to consider their feelings.
Raising a daughter as a single dad will require extra levels of patience, as some children are more sensitive than others. With that said, it is important to note that everything you say as the parent requires extra care. This includes when you’re trying to dole out firm talkings or punishments.
Your sole aim during any moment is to consider their feelings. Take the time to explain things when you’ve calmed or when tempers are not so high. Recognize your patience levels and then add more patience to whatever situation you may be in. The younger the child, the more fearful they can become of you if your temper gets the best of you. As your daughter grows into teen years, she may shut you out of her life if you can’t consider her feelings. And you don’t want that happening especially when they become teenagers. So when you think you’re being soft enough, add an extra layer of gentleness just to be sure. Your daughters will be grateful for it.
#6 Teach them about safety.
Unfortunately, girls are often targets of several different types of crimes. Whether these crimes come in the form of pedophiles, touchers, rapists, family, friends, strangers, traffickers, or sex offenders– your job as the dad is to give them the tools to protect themselves as best as possible from anything. How do you do that? Depending on their age, you’ll need to cater the message that you send and the information you give them.
One way my husband and I taught our younger girls about safety (they’re 5 and 8), was to explain how their bodies belong to them and no one is allowed to touch them. We made rules to tell us if any one tried touching them, even family, and that they would not get in trouble for telling us. Another conversation we had was how some people do bad things, so it’s our job as a family to stay away from strangers no matter what they’re offering. We taught them how to yell if a stranger came to them, what to yell, how loud to yell, and we learned what steps to take next. While it sounds serious, these are serious times and kids deserve to know what to do. They’re much smarter than many of us realize.
As for teenagers (we also have 14 and 15 year old daughters)– the conversations we’ve had with them were much deeper. We taught them never go into a public bathroom alone, and not to leave their drinks unattended. We’ve also spoken to them about attackers and sex traffickers. We explained how these kinds of people seek out girls, and what tools can be used as weapons if someone tries to attack them– keys and heels are great! We even discussed phone routines for arriving at school, leaving school, lunch breaks, and hangouts. And while this all sounds over the top, it provides us peace of mind and prepares them for the worst.
Before you start a conversation like this with your daughters, prepare your thoughts beforehand and gear it towards their respective ages. You can also give yourself key points on a note pad to keep your conversation on track.
#7 Learn that attitudes are a sign something is wrong.
All girls have attitudes. Doesn’t matter if they’re 4 or 16. We all get them and we all have different reasons for getting them. As a dad, you probably don’t want to deal with it or maybe, you don’t know how to deal with it. That’s okay, girls don’t always know how to deal with it either.
Attitudes are a part of growing up, and still occurs in adulthood. It is a tool we use to warn others to stay away, but can sometimes be cruel if left unchecked. There are also times when an attitude isn’t due to any external event, merely an internal one– like hormones or hunger or fatigue.
Your job as the dad is to figure out what the cause is. Just do so in a way that is both loving and caring, while also putting your foot down with it. You have to be both a teddy bear and the hammer. In other words, let your daughter know that you will not tolerate an attitude, that mutual respect is required to have a good working relationship, and that you’re there for her, if and when she is ready to talk.
And while the above method will work for most teens, when it comes to younger girls, the approach will be different. Use a soft voice with a hint of love, understanding, and curiosity, to help you figure out their attitude causes. Sometimes, even a small joke to lighten up the situation can help your little one fess up to why she was having an attitude.
A few tips to guide you through attitudes at any age: (1) always be patient, (2) be willing to give them space, (3) be firm and caring, (4) don’t allow disrespect, (5) never antagonize them into anger, and (6) don’t ignore or pretend it didn’t happen.
Raising a daughter as a single dad can definitely be scary, after all, being a parent doesn’t come with a handbook. Remember to forgive yourself for any mistakes you may have made or will make. If you’re still unsure of your skills, join a dad group on social media, or search the internet for articles like this one. Above all, have confidence in the fact that no parent is perfect. I hope you liked these tips, and if you have more to share, send us a message on our Instagram page @atomic_mommy. We’d love to hear from you!