Growing up my father was a single dad of two twin daughters. He flew solo for a long and brutal five years; there were lots of laughs, tears, mistakes and wonderful memories. If I could go back in time and tell him what I needed from him back then, I would. I think he would have less wrinkles and gray hair if I could have done so. But we can’t, so here’s my advice for single dads of girls:
Adult Female: Make friends fast with an adult female that you are not romantically involved with. My father made friends with our teacher each year to help him when he needed it. There were days here and there throughout the year that my dad would call up our teacher and ask for advice. I specifically remember my dad sending us to school earlier than the other kids before ‘picture day’ so that my teacher could curl our hair. It’s the little things dads. Your girls need a strong and trusting female figure, whether that is a teacher, grandmother or aunt, find one and keep them on speed dial.
Hair: Whatever you do, do not pick up the curling iron unless you are a professional hair stylist. Curled bangs were big back then and so were burnt foreheads. If your daughters are too young to do their own hair, I suggest you learn three hair tricks. Headbands are instant and easy. You can never go wrong with a ponytail. And learn to braid. Be sure that they wash and towel dry their hair every night and run a comb through it. Remember that your little girl’s head is sensitive so avoid pulling the pony to tight, headaches dad, headaches.
Clothes: It’s really a no win here. Your goal is to get them clothed in something appropriate and preferably pink. Typically that is the color little girls are drawn too. Try a trick of setting out their clothes the night before and don’t make it a big fuss. It doesn’t have to match but at least try. Skip mixing patterns and trying to match colors. A simple bottom with a simple top.
Fights: Little girls will fight with their sisters and other little girls until the cows come home. Boys fight, hit and then get over it. With little girls, there will be tears, buckets of tears and emotional breakdowns. Whatever you do, don’t say ‘I don’t know why you are crying’ or ‘honey, it’s no big deal’ if don’t want to hear screaming. During a fight or post fight tears session, be calm and just hug them. That is all. Let them cry it out and tell them your fatherly advice AFTER they are done crying.
Boys: Little girls don’t typically get interested in boys until middle school. So rest assured if your daughters have little boy friends, they are safe. Obviously, always monitor any play sessions but have no worries. Girls will get crushes and once pre-teens role around, that’s when you need to watch for the boys. It’s all rainbows and butterflies with boys until they hit middle school, then step up the security and lectures.
Hugs: When in doubt, just give them a hug. Girls are very emotional and physical beings; it may feel uncomfortable and out of your realm but a simple hug can go a long way. If she is happy, sad, scared or tired, a hug does wonders. Plus, there’s nothing like a good old bear hug from dad to start the day off right.