Raising a daughter-especially during the teenage years-as a single father can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unqualified. As a lone parent, you are responsible for nurturing your daughter, for providing her with affection and emotional support, and for helping her to build self-worth-duties that typically come from mothers. Moreover, while single parenthood isn’t uncommon, being a single father is still considered an unusual situation. Data from the latest United States Census¬†indicates that only 14% of all children living in single-parent households live with their fathers.

Challenges for Single Fathers

One of the main challenges for single fathers is trying to understand what it’s like growing up as a girl. Girls with mothers have the advantage of being able to share their experience with someone who has at least a vague idea of what it’s like. In addition, fathers also face practical challenges. The first is that fewer than one-third of all single fathers are awarded child support. This means that they have to spend more time working to provide for their children, which amounts to time away from home and child care costs.

Educating Yourself

As a single father, it’s up to you to try to understand what’s in store for you as your daughter grows up. Girls change a lot between the ages of eight and thirteen-both physically and intellectually. Nutrition for teenaged girls is very important and differs from that of males. It’s important that you understand what to expect and also how to communicate with your daughter about these changes. Try to establish open lines of communication early. Ensure that your daughter has female role models in her life that she can go to with sensitive issues. As much as you can try to help her feel comfortable sharing with you, she may feel embarrassed coming to you. A safety net is a good way to ensure she always has someone to talk to.

The Right Amount of Discipline

It’s important to give your daughter a healthy amount of freedom. Help her to identify rules and boundaries and don’t be afraid to punish her accordingly if she crosses them. On the other hand, don’t be overprotective. Your daughter needs a space-within reason-to make her own decisions. This is going to help her to develop critical thinking, problem solving, and coping skills.

Seek Advice

When you’re alone, you need to build a bigger support network. Seek advice when you’re not sure what to do. One of the most helpful sources of information are other single fathers, as they’ve been in your shoes. Go online if you can’t find other single fathers in your neighborhood.

Single fathers of daughters face challenges in helping their girls to grow into confident, self-assured, and capable young women. If the thought of talking to your girls about puberty, menstruation, or dating makes you uncomfortable, try to educate yourself. Offer your daughter positive female role models to turn to. Be fair when it comes to disciplining your daughter by finding a balance between too much and too few rules.