Whether you have been awarded primary custody as part of a divorce or you have been tragically widowed, raising your child or children as a single father can be an incredibly difficult challenge to undertake. This task can become even more difficult when a single father is left to raise a daughter. With no female role model around on a daily basis, it will be dad’s job to give her the kind of unique support that a girl needs as she grows from a child in to a young adult. Though it can be hard, it is by no means impossible. Here are some valuable tips for raising a daughter as a single dad.

1. Don’t Go It Alone

If you speak to any single father who is going through the same situation, you can be almost certain that they will all tell you about the importance of a female mentor in your daughter’s life. You can be as close to you daughter as humanly possible, but as she grows there is still going to be certain conversations and questions that she would rather have with a women. You can turn to both family and friends to seek help; perhaps utilizing the wisdom of your own mother, or asking your sisters to take a special interest. If your family is not an ideal solution, then there are also plenty of external female role models that your daughters can look up to, from teachers to Girl Scout leaders to sports coaches. Don’t try to force a relationship between them, but make sure that your daughter is surrounded by strong, compassionate women who she can look up to.

2. Communication Is Key

A lot of men, especially fathers, tend to take an “I must fix it” approach to any problems that their children might have. Rather than being able to fix everything in almost super hero like fashion, the one thing that you can always for your daughter is be there to listen to her when she needs to talk something out. It is not always a case of an easy fix to a standard solution. The lives of teenage girls are endlessly complicated, and sometimes all it takes for your daughter to be able to resolve her own issues is for you to lend a compassionate ear and allow her to verbalize her feelings. It will take a lot of patience and a lot of time, but keeping up a good line of communication with her is absolutely vital so that she doesn’t shut you out.

3. Don’t Be Overprotective

As a single parent, especially of a girl, you will probably feel even more protective of your daughter than when you were married. The fact of the matter is that you have to trust in her behavior and in her decision-making and try to not be too overprotective. If the movies and all other forms of media are anything to go by, the only thing that will come from being too strict or too protective of your daughter is that she will react in the only way that feels natural and completely rebel against you. Just give her the freedom that you yourself would want, and she will respect you for it.

4. Be Involved

This does not mean that you should take a back seat in her growing process. Sometimes, kids, especially young teens, are unable to see the consequences of potential actions, and it is your job as a father to raise the flag when you think that major mistakes are about to be made. As well as patrolling this side of her life, your involvement should be enthusiastic in all aspects from attending cello recitals to driving her to soccer practice or picking her up from a friend’s house late at night. It is these acts of togetherness that will build an unbreakable bond between you.

5. Understand That She Will Miss Her Mother

You need to be careful not to associate your own negative feelings toward your ex wife with the feelings of love that your daughter will probably have for her mother. In the majority of cases, the cessation of your marriage will not have been the choice or the doing of your children, so it is important for you to realize that though you may be in a better place, your kids might not be. Always be open to conversations about her mother and, unless extreme circumstances call for it, never stop her from seeing her at the times that have been agreed either by you or by the court. Unless there are serious sanctions put in place for good reasons, you need to accept that your ex-wife is going to be a big part of your daughter’s life even though she is no longer a big part of your own.

6. Accept That She Is Going To Start Dating!

It’s something that fathers never seem to like, and the feelings of discomfort can be compounded when you are a single parent who has nobody to bounce your frustration off when your daughter starts to date. What you already know, but what you need to remind the irrational part of your brain, is that dating is a completely natural part of growing up. Though you may be unhappy about her choice of partner or you personally do not think she is ready, you have to take a relaxed view and allow her to make her mistakes, it is an essential part of becoming a mature adult. One thing you should absolutely not do is place a blanket ban on dating of any kind, as this will serve two purposes, both negative. Firstly, it will put a strain on the relationship that the two of you share, and secondly, it will stunt your daughter’s development in terms of experiencing and enjoying the normal life of a teenage girl. It can be hard to allow your daughter to have affection for somebody that isn’t a family member, but it’s a part of life and you cannot stop it.