6 Tips for Single Dads Raising Girls | Fatherhood Factor

6 Tips for Single Dads of Girls

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.

About Debra Johnson

Debra Johnson is a blogger, editor & a knowledge gainer of  being a full time nanny.  She welcomes your questions and comments via email at jdebra84@gmail.com.

  • Victoria

    About the tip about clothes. Please don’t just put them in pink because “that’s what girls are drawn to”.  Why do you think they are drawn to it, they have been choking on that colour since the moment we learned they had a vagina.

    Set the clothes out before bed, but its not going to hurt if they are old enough to pick out what they want to wear. As long as it’s weather appropriate and the clothes are clean you are good to go. This let’s them express themselves.

    Fights: girls hit and girls can get angry. Until we tell them it’s not lady like. Then we resort to crying because we don’t know how to express how we feel. If your little girl is angry, frustrated, etc let her feel it. If you know why she is angry ask “Are you angry because your sister took your transformer toy?” Validate the anger and if she acted out on it discipline the action NOT the anger it’s self.

    Boys: There should be no lectures, there should be education and communication. Your girl has a sexuality and making it dirty and shameful, it is not going to help her in the long run. As a dad please learn about menstruation, puberty, and sex positively.

    • http://fatherhoodfactor.com/ Keagan Pearson

      Good insight Victoria!

      Although my daughters definitely love pink, they like to express themselves in all kinds of ways. So, we do the “night before” clothes layout method, with their input. We still have to pull rank now and then but for the most part they are getting the hang of it.

      Now…for the fighting and the sensitive topic of female hormonal changes. I am the only man in a house with four women, and I can assure you that the best thing to do is remain calm, to talk through things, and most often, just love on them.

      Make no mistake, some of this wisdom has come after I’ve allowed myself to communicate my confusion towards radical emotional outbursts…but that is only playing with fire!

      Dads, be understanding! And if you don’t understand…error on the side of caution and keep your words kind and your tone pleasant…lest you bring on needless and immediate reprisal!

      Thanks for stopping by Victoria!

      • jason

        Hi my name is jason just recently divorced I have had custody of my three girls ages 7 6 and 3 I’m am trying my very best but it’s all so new for all of us and any advice would help out greatly it’s still pretty new only about 5 months in I’m trying my best with school child care and work and still coming home to do dinner and home work any tips about juggling it all would be awesome thank you

        • http://fatherhoodfactor.com/ Keagan Pearson

          Hi Jason,

          I’m sure that others can pitch in here as well but my suggestion is to try to simplify your life as much as possible. Especially right now, any extra, unneeded stressors are going to prove extra daunting. I’d also do your best at leveraging family and friends for help. If reconciling your marriage isn’t an option then working towards building a support network is going to be vital. Hopefully this provides some sense of guidance!

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    I have a son and a daughter so I have seen the differences between the ‘sexes’ first hand.

    I can’t begin to describe the fights over hair and clothing, but overall it hasn’t been bad. I don’t expect my kids to be the same or act the same and that is ok.

    • http://fatherhoodfactor.com/ Keagan Pearson

      That’s a good point Jack…the more we realize and accept the differences between our kids and adapt our parenting, the greater out chance of reducing friction.

      Great to have you stop by!

  • DaddaBase

    Great article. It is nice to see that I am not doing to poorly with these recommendations. I have two little girls..well, now 7 & 9.

    For hair, I watched youtube video’s on how to do different hairstyles, and mastered a few. Braids were key, because it helps keeps tangles away and when they took them out, they loved how their hair looked curly. But luckily, I had some very helpful neighbor moms, they would help me figure out some things I think women take for granted, like you need to comb long hair out from the bottom…that was hugely helpful.

    As for crying, that was the toughest thing for me to get used to. Little girls are emotional little things, and it took me a while to figure that out. Crying just comes with the territory. Before I figured that out, I am guilty of saying “crying isn’t helping anything” and “just stop crying”….I hope I haven’t done any permanent damage.

    • http://fatherhoodfactor.com/ Keagan Pearson

      Ah, yes…the old YouTube trick!

      There is really no end to what you can learn with a simple Google search. But, it sounds like you’re pretty resourceful…which has to be a permanent fixture in the life of a single dad!

      Concerning the crying, I would say that you realizing that you may have handled things more harshly than necessary is a really powerful insight. Not all parents come to that realization. I personally make sure that I genuinely ask for their forgiveness when I know I’ve handled things badly…and then make some small changes. You’ll be amazed at how well that works!

      Thanks for dropping by Stephen!

  • NyWis

    This was a great article. My dad and I are actually working on a documentary/writing a book on single fathers. He raised me and we are looking for other peoples stories to share in our project.

    • http://fatherhoodfactor.com/ Keagan Pearson

      Thanks for reading NyWis!

    • Jenn Johnson


      My younger brother and I were raised by my father for most of our childhood (5 to 8 years old +). I know you posted this a little while ago, but please feel free to get in touch if still interested. I would be more than happy to share.

    • Jim Anderson

      Hi, my name is Jim and I would like to talk/share with your dad in being a single father and needing advise/sharing my experiences with being a single dad to a wonderful 2 y/o “princess” named Scarlett lol. Please pass this onto your dad and if he wouldnt mind contacting me via email; jim.david.anderson11@gmail.com thank you!