Oh, the Drama!
If some men are nervous about playing with little girls, others are surprised by the tidal wave of emotions that come with their little pink package. On one hand, men, who are frequently raised to suppress their feelings, are often taken aback by the absolute love of a child, particularly a little girl who fawns over her father. "We raise boys to be emotionally illiterate, so for a man to be thrust into an unconditional love relationship is overwhelming and powerful," Kelly explains.
On the other, a man who didn't grow up with sisters might be unprepared for his little drama queen's theatrics when she's in a foul mood or gets hurt on the playground and cries for what seems like hours. When a confused father needs a roadmap to his daughter's emotions, his best ally is his daughter's mother. She knows what it's like to be a little girl and can help interpret those whines and pouts. When all else fails, hugs and patience are usually the best remedy.
Even a hands-on Daddy can be unprepared for his little princess to suddenly reject him. Young girls are notorious for wanting to cuddle with their fathers one minute and refusing to let him tie their shoes the next. Take solace that this kind of behavior is normal and natural. It's her way of exploring her autonomy. Kelly advises, "It's not personal. They are experimenting with where I start and end and where you begin. Don't abandon her or take your marbles and go home like a crybaby. Keep the communication going." And get used to it. She'll do it again as a teenager too! It's all a part of growing up.
Tips for Daddies of Daughters
- Be there. Change the diapers, take her for walks, and pick out her clothes. Sit her in the bouncy seat while you work in your home office or outside while you do yard work.
- Appreciate her uniqueness as a girl. Compliment her clothes and hair. Tell her she looks pretty. Play with dolls, have tea parties, and play princess games.
- Appreciate her uniqueness as a person. Tell her how smart and brave she is. Teach her to throw a ball and dig for worms. Encourage her to take risks and speak her mind.
- Get physical with her. Roughhouse, tickle, bounce, patty cake, hug, and kiss. Teach her to swim, ride a bike, play golf, or whatever sport you enjoy.
- Listen! Males are problem solvers by nature, so when their daughters come to them with problems, they're often too quick to offer up solutions, when all she wants is a shoulder to cry on. Girls are talkers. Dads should be quiet and listen. Then ask her if she wants you to offer a few helpful suggestions.
- "Be her father, not her mother," Kelly says. Be the upstanding male role model that will teach her what to expect from men for the rest of her life.