There is something men need to realize if you decide to have children: there’s a 50/50 chance you’re going to have a daughter. I know it’s a stereotype to assume that just because a man is becoming a father, that he’s assuming, or hoping, he will have a son, through which all his unrealized dreams that he had a boy can finally become fulfilled.

Well, we all know real life isn’t really like that, and women make up for, at last count, a majority of the population of planet Earth. A slim majority, sure, but a majority nonetheless. Meaning, there are more of them than there are of you, men. So it’s time to get with the program.

Now, I am primarily speaking from my own POV, as a divorced, single father, my oldest being a fabulously wacky soon-to-be-16-year-old girl. Yeah, buddy, does she come with her own set of baggage (not the least of which being, she’s autistic, which so far has not been the impediment to being a high school sophomore that you might think. Then again, everyone’s different). One thing I learned very quickly is that, if you’re a single father, especially one that is the custodial parent?

Nothing will make you an instant feminist quicker than having to raise a teenage girl on your own.

It’s true. Suddenly, the burden of addressing all her problems, hopes, fears, and getting her through all sorts of drama falls on you. Like any good parent, you have to be her rock, her shelter from the storm. So you need to be prepared.

First and foremost, realize that despite there being a majority of women and girls in this world, it’s not a very pleasant place for them at the moment. Between getting paid less than men on average for similar work, constant threats of sexual abuse in all walks of life (including, literally, just walking down the street), and having legislation levied at them merely for the fact that they are women… it’s a tough road to hoe. Whether or not your beliefs are in line with that, the facts do sadly speak for themselves, and while you may not see it that way, your daughter certainly will experience all of this in some form or another. You need to be her source of strength, as a parent. Teach her to be aware of such predatory behavior, and not to tolerate it one bit. Lead by example.

Another thing you need to realize is that like most children, they are going to change. Physically, for sure. Puberty hits every child eventually, and with girls it typically comes, on average, before boys. It may not be a pleasant experience for you, having to suddenly go to the local megamart buy sanitary pads for your little baby girl whilst she is on her menstrual cycle, but it’s just biology, man. It’s most assuredly much more pleasant for her to actually be having it. Be sympathetic. Be empathetic. Understand that her very body is going through some changes and that it can be more difficult for some girls than others. All that being said, perhaps it’d be wiser for you to go through her mother (or another female person you trust) for training bras. They might have that much more practical experience than you do.

There can also be mental changes as well. They might think you’re no longer Daddy with a capital D, but just some annoyance who drops her off at school, makes her dinner, provides her a home, etc. She may not see it that way, but that’s because teenagers often have a perspective that doesn’t go past their own nose. Nevertheless, it might happen. You need to mentally steel yourself for it, because regardless if she thinks you’re a pain in the ass, well, that’s your job as her father to be a pain in the ass. Don’t take it personally though – that’s just teenagers. That’s in their job description.

Most of all, you need to teach her that despite you not being a girl yourself, that you are there for her in everything she needs you to be there for, and you can understand her. Even if you don’t, necessarily, understand her. You need to make your best attempts, however. Your daughter is counting on you.

This is, of course, a very basic primer. A 101, if you will. There are books written about the subject. But I can just relate my experiences. Yours may be different. Just make sure you do right by her.

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