I’ve got my hands full with my 11-year-old son.
What if I had a daughter instead? Would my job be harder?
I’m not sure, but it would definitely be different. I raised a daughter – back when I was married the first time.
She was a stepdaughter whom I adopted at a young age. She’s now 28 and on her own, doing well.
It’s been so long since she lived at home that I’ve forgotten the unique parenting problems she presented. Plus, I had some help from my wife.
But some of you guys are flying solo in raising a daughter. I don’t envy you. Instead of offering any advice, I thought I’d refer you to a book I saw recently.
It’s called Raising a Daughter: Parents and the Awakening of a Healthy Woman. It looks like a sound, commonsense guide for raising a daughter. I liken it to an owner’s manual for your car.
“Troubles with boys are different from problems with girls,” say the authors, Jeanne Elium and Don Elium. “We have to put on a different set of spectacles, allowing us to see the world the way our daughters do. We must lay aside our limiting beliefs that girls and boys are the same…”
Got that, Dads?
You daughter isn’t just like a son with pigtails.
“For many of us, understanding girls is like trying to fathom aliens who just got off the ship from outer space,” the authors continue. “And it is very much like that, because our culturally learned perceptions are so different from a daughter’s reality.”
Let me interpret: Parenting a daughter is even harder than you think. You probably don’t have a clue how to connect with her.
Fortunately, this book offers some help. Chapter 6, for instance, is called “Fences: Developing Healthy Personal Boundaries.”
“People with healthy personal boundaries are self-directed and able to maintain relationships with others,” the authors write. “Helping our daughters develop a strong sense of self will assure them the freedom to follow their destinies happily and purposefully.”
The final four chapters are particularly instructive because they tell what to look in girls at different ages. Here are the titles:
- Chapter 9: “The ‘Watch Me!’ Years: Birth to 7”
- Chapter 10: “The ‘I Can Do Anything!’ Years: 8 to 12”
- Chapter 11: “The ‘You Just Don’t Understand Me!’ Years: 13 to 17”
- Chapter 12: “The ‘I’m Trying to Find Myself’ Years: 18 to 29”
The chapters give you a road map to your daughter’s development. Read them and perhaps you won’t be as surprised when you encounter twists and turns, hills and valleys, smooth pavement and rough patches.
Good luck. Wish I could say I’ve been in your shoes, but I haven’t.
Here’s the only advice I’ll offer: Read up on raising a daughter, toss out your preconceptions and be willing to admit your mistakes as you go.
If you do, you’ll be a good father and your daughter will turn out fine.
Sons and daughters present different challenges and may require different parenting approaches. Be flexible. Admit what you don’t know and look for help.