Raising Daughters- What We Have Learned
This post on daughters goes along with the post I wrote called, “Never Enough Time- The child who always needs more than you can give”
What We Learned With Daddy’s Traveling
My 3rd daughter had a really hard time with daddy traveling. He had to go out of town every month for a week. He did this for about 3 years or so. She didn’t want to do anything when he was away and had lots of melt downs. Sometimes, we would call him and see if he was busy. Most of the time, we got lucky and he could talk to her for a few minutes and then she would be ready to handle pre-school or whatever she needed to do that day. She loved pre-school, but not when daddy was out of town!
Our Solution to Missing Daddy
We decided to try giving her, her own picture of daddy to keep close since he couldn’t be there. She slept with his picture. She set his picture up on the table so she could see him when she ate. She kept it with her when she did art projects. She also watched TV with her daddy picture. Sometimes, his picture went in the car with us while we did errands. There were times when she needed his picture close and other times we hardly saw it. I wondered, here and there, if I should be worried and if this was too much of a crutch.
It turned out to just be a stage and eased the pain of him being gone. It was also a great blessing to me. There were times I just wanted to get away, too! I got really tired of the melt downs because daddy had to be out of town. By the time he was done with his travel schedule she was doing really well with him having to be gone.
Time For Each Princess
My husband had 4 little princesses who wanted to spend time with him. Sometimes, it felt overwhelming; it was hardest when he had been working a lot and hadn’t had a lot of time for anyone. It was frustrating when I wanted time with him and felt like I had to compete for his attention, too.
I didn’t want to be in competition with my girls. I grew up with a mom who saw me as her competitor. She frequently compared my life to her life and she was jealous that I had a dad because hers died when she was 7 years old. (She told me she was jealous, often.) I wasn’t allowed to call my dad, daddy after I was 7 or 8 years old. She said it made me sound like a baby. It hurt and I still resent her for meddling in my relationship with my dad. (If it had just been this, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much.)
Our Time Solution
I understood that my girls needed their dad and how important it is for them. Hubby and I going on more dates or finding time for just the two of us to talk helped me get the time I needed with him. Also, him being on a better work schedule helped so he could have more of the evenings and sometimes part of the afternoon to play with the girls. He has almost always had flexible schedules that make it hard to stay in a 9-5 routine.
I loved that he was always a big part of the bedtime routine! He did most of it and the girls went to bed better, for the most part, when daddy tucked them in. He brushed their teeth and was often the culprit of winding them up too much when they were supposed to be winding down. . .
I had a dad that worked long hours. There were times I didn’t see him for days. Often, he was coming home after I had gone to bed and getting up before I got up and sometimes he traveled. One time he went out of town for a week and I didn’t even know he had been gone; until my mom said she was glad he would be home tomorrow. Shortly after this incident, my dad’s friend was on a business trip, fell asleep at the wheel and was killed in the car accident. It was all too real for me! I never knew if I would see my dad again. Something like that could easily happen to him and I would never get to say goodbye.
I didn’t want my girls to go through that. So, when they were young I insisted that he at least tuck them in at night so they could see him for a few minutes each day.
Some dads get freaked out when their little girl starts to turn into a woman. Don’t abandon your daughter! She still needs you!
Take an interest in what she is interested in: My husband did some art nights with our daughter who was into art. They would play catch and Frisbee and just have fun in the yard. He went to every gymnastics meet and dance performance for the daughters who were into those activities. He also helped with picking them up and would sometimes, watch practice. He sang at the piano with the musical daughter. (He was a music major and now people ask her how long she took professional voice lessons.) With our youngest they do archery, skiing and are trying other activities together.
When our youngest was 4 years old, she saw all the things her dad was doing with her sisters and it distressed her. She came to me crying and when I asked her what was wrong, she sobbed “I have nothing in common with Dad.” Funny and heartbreaking all at once! No one realized she was feeling left out.
- Ask her about the things she is involved in. Who are her friends? What are her dreams?
- Go to her events. Take her flowers if she has a performance. (Doesn’t have to be a lot. A single carnation is still nice and thoughtful.) We made my daughter an almond joy bouquet once; to give to her after her state gymnastics meet. She loved it! Or take her to dinner or dessert to celebrate the event.
- Just because excursions: The grocery store, by us, has ice cream cones for less than a dollar. Our girls loved those spontaneous special moments when dad would suggest going to get a treat.
- Play a game. It can be with one or all of the kids/girls together. While individual time is needed, so is group time (especially if you have more than one child). Games can be great bonding moments for the whole family. Games are also great for teaching young ones about sharing and how to be a gracious winner or loser.
- Shoot hoops, play catch, play Frisbee. Many girls like these activities too!
- Engage them in yard work with you.
- Teach them about the car. How to up keep a car in good working order: check the oil, add washer fluid, teach how to change a tire, etc.
Growing and Changing, but Still Daddy’s Little Girl
When our oldest began having periods; my husband was a little freaked out. One day, I had been to the store and when I walked in the door this daughter asked about feminine products. I had to run back out and get some for her because we were out. My husband was confused. Groceries were home and he thought he had heard me come in, but couldn’t find me. He asked our daughter where I was and she told him the whole story about being out of feminine products and that I had gone back for some. My husband called me in a panic! His first words were, “When are you coming back?!” Then he told me, “I need you! She’s talking to me about. . . stuff!” I laughed so hard!
However, as I drove home and thought about this situation, I realized how wonderful it is! She felt comfortable enough to talk about something so personal with her dad. She wasn’t embarrassed in any way! Wow! I cried. I would have loved an open relationship with my dad where we could talk about everything, without embarrassment. She is so lucky to have such a wonderful dad!
Shortly after that, if he wanted to talk about something she didn’t, she would say something about tampons. He would get embarrassed and the subject would change. Now, nothing phases my husband and he will join in just to tease.
A child who needs more dad time than mom time isn’t a rejection of you. Children need one parent more than another parent as they go through different stages. Not every child is the same. Nor do they need that parent at the same time as another child needed that parent. Some need one parent more than the other parent for longer periods of time and others for shorter time periods.
For example: my second daughter is much more of a Mama’s girl. My husband couldn’t calm her as a baby. He would try and take her to give me a break and become very frustrated because she would cry a lot and he couldn’t settle her down. As soon as he would hand her back to me, she would calm down. I called her my appendage because I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without her.
However, at church she would go to nursery if dad dropped her off and wouldn’t cry about staying there. If I took her, I would have to stay with her or she wouldn’t stay.
This daughter got very sick when she was 5 years old and it was like a switch was flipped and suddenly she only wanted daddy. It was a blessing and hard all at the same time. I had surgery just before she got sick and my arm was all wrapped up and it was hard to hold her. That was really hard when all I wished I could do is hold and comfort her and she wanted daddy. However, I was able to have a break because she was feeling more secure and didn’t need me all of the time. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself; except for all the stress we were dealing with in having a very ill child. My other two girls really needed me at this time as well and I was able to give them more of the attention they needed. The hardest part is that I felt displaced in her not wanting/needing me as much as she did before she got sick.
The best and hardest job in the world is being a mom! I’m so glad I don’t have to do it alone and that my husband is so involved!
Each Daughter Needs Both Mom and Dad, but Sometimes at Different Times
Our grown girls call mom for some things and dad for other things. The relationships they have with each of us is precious and I am so glad that they don’t just call to talk to me or him.
Recently, my college daughter called dad first and then told him to not tell mom because she wanted to tell me herself! I love that she wanted to share her news with me, too! My relationships with my girls are different than his with them and unique to each child/parent relationship. Like snowflakes, beautiful and different.
- A child who needs one parent more than the other; it’s not personal- don’t be offended
- Another stage may come where that child needs you more.
- Be ready and open when you are the parent they need
- Time is important
- Be supportive
- Don’t abandon and don’t give up
- Make time for your spouse. While the kids need time from you, so does your spouse. The best thing you can do for your child is to love their mother/father. Make sure you are nurturing your spousal relationship.
- Your relationship will be different with each child because each child has different emotional, mental and spiritual needs. I bet you don’t have two identical relationships with 2 different friends. Why would your children be any different?
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