A healthy, loving relationship with their children is a very joyous experience for fathers, and there is something unique and special about the bond between a dad and his daughter. As your little girl begins to mature toward womanhood, she will inevitably experience many changes and incredible growth through her teenage years. If you are a single father, these years can be especially difficult to understand and navigate successfully. However, investing the extra time and effort to foster a close and fulfilling relationship with your daughter during this formative time is very important.
Parenting during the teen years is a large undertaking for any two parents to accomplish, so as a single dad, you may feel especially overwhelmed and challenged in your efforts to lovingly parent your daughter during her teenage years.
Here are seven strategies that you can use to stay close and connected with your daughter, and parent successfully through the teenage years:
- Learn About Female Adolescent Development
During the teenage years, fathers often find it more difficult to relate to their daughters because young women experience emotional and hormonal changes that men don’t experience during their own puberty. Teen Life suggests that single fathers spend the time and effort to educate themselves about the physical, hormonal, and emotional changes that teenage girls go through. Even if you don’t have personal experience to draw from, you can understand what to expect as your daughter matures. By understanding what is happening in her development, you can be more patient, understanding, and supportive for her.
- Communicate Effectively and Often With Your Daughter
Men often desire to help find solutions or fix problems effectively and immediately as they come about. This desire is typically amplified for fathers who want to help their daughters. Sometimes, though, a teenage girl just needs to speak and be heard, and not saved or fixed. According to About Parenthood, single fathers should endeavor to maintain open communication with their daughters, with a strong emphasis on listening without trying to find a problem or solution. By listening to your daughter, and communicating effectively and often with her, you will be able to remain close to her as she grows and help guide her as well.
- Love Unconditionally, but Give Your Daughter Room to Grow
Teenagers are known for their growing independence, curiosity, and excitement to grow up into adults. While this exuberance can be difficult for parents to manage sometimes, it is important that you love your teen daughter unconditionally no matter what phase of teenage development she is undergoing. An important aspect of the teenage years is learning identity, problem solving, and how to engage in healthy social relationships. As a single father, you will play a huge role in shaping how your daughter develops, but avoid the urge to hover so she has room to safely discover and grow.
- Avoid Speaking Negatively about Your Daughter’s Mother
No matter the reason your daughter’s mother is not present, always be sure that you do not speak of her with negativity. Your daughter will always have a strong love for her mother, so make sure you support her feelings even if you don’t share them.
- Teach Your Daughter Strong Morals and Values…and Enforce Them Consistently
Your daughter will be looking up to you and watching you for cues on how to grow into a successful adult. Make sure that you are living and demonstrating the morals and values you teach your daughter, and show her through example how to live fully and happily. As the sole parent to your teen daughter, you are also the one responsible for making her accountable to herself and to the rules of your home. While it may be tempting to let things slide here and there to avoid an outburst or an argument, always enforce your established rules and boundaries with consistency.
- Have Fun and Enjoy Your Time Together
According to Child Development Institute, one of the best things you can do as a single father working to raise happy, strong daughters is to have fun together as often as possible and to enjoy every phase of her development. Your daughter will soon grow into a woman, and her memories of time together with her dad will help shape her throughout her lifetime.
- Build a Strong, Supportive Village around Yourself
Even though you are the strong, sole leader of your home, do not try to parent your teen daughter without a strong support system. As you recruit your village, be sure to include positive female role models who can act as mentors to your daughter, and show her how grown women behave, live, and thrive. These women can be family members or close, trusted family friends. If you do not have positive female examples in your life, then there are great community programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America where your daughter can spend time with quality female role models.
Raising a teenage daughter as a single dad can be challenging at times. If you feel overwhelmed or notice that your daughter is demonstrating signs of seclusion, unhappiness, or depression, then speaking with a licensed teen counselor can help you get your daughter, your parenting, and your relationship on a positive, healthy track.