by Lorraine Jones
Being a single dad is no easy job, especially when raising daughters. It is the father's responsibility to teach her how to become a woman, despite never having been one himself.
A girl needs someone to teach her about beauty, relationships, how to use a tampon, and of course, how to do her hair. Many daughters rely on their parents to style and maintain their hair and when they don't have a mother figure, they have to depend on dad.
As a parent, you have to be strong for your child, even at the most overwhelming times. When you're brimming with stress, about to burst, your child is always nearby watching, taking cues from you. As much love and joy being a single dad can give you, it can also be as equally distressing at times. Playing both roles means you get all of the grunt work of being a parent such as getting them ready in the morning, taking them to school Monday through Friday, attending their school functions, and trying to maintain a job and social life of your own—it’s a lot.
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In times of distress, don’t lose your cool. “In the moments of drama, stand down and don't take the bait. Say the facts or assess the situation gently and walk away. It's not worth getting angry over. Nothing is more humbling than having to apologize to your children for raising your voice at them,” said Jay Seville, owner of Wilmington-Real-Estate.com and father of five.
Find constructive ways to relieve stress like working out. Leaning on others can also help diminish that overwhelming feeling. Whether it's emotional support or advice, it’s always good to get an outside opinion. “If it is a subject that they can relate to I’ll talk to my friends. Having female friends that have daughters is a big advantage because no matter how understanding I am, I’m not a female, and men and women don’t think alike sometimes. Getting the perspective of an adult woman has taught me a lot and my daughters enjoy it,” said Jamie Hickey, founder of coffeesemantics.com.
Know your limits and accept what you can handle in your life. That applies to all aspects of your life. The kids come first, and everything else comes in doses. This is something that weighs on the back of your mind in many situations but can more so weigh down your mind when it comes to dating. Jumping back into the dating scene is scary for anyone, especially when children are involved.
Hickey was pushed to start dating by his friends and oldest daughter but he remains skeptical. He’s only dated twice in the past three years. “Both women didn’t have any kids and had a hard time being understanding of how I couldn’t give them all of my attention,” said Hickey. He doesn’t want to dive into the dating pool because he is unsure whether he can give his girls and his romantic partner enough of himself to nurture either relationship. And now with the pandemic, dating is an utter forethought.
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Seville often finds himself excited to meet new people and eager to date but one thing always prevents second and even first dates: his kids. Seville has five daughters and the moment any woman hears that he is immediately ghosted. “Typically, I get the eyes popping out emoji by women when it comes to finding out I have a large family. The women in their 40s are like, ‘I'm done with little kids.’ The women in their 30s are usually waiting for the "perfect" scenario or are intimidated by me having more kids than they do. And if they do not have any children yet, they are seldom interested in a man with lots of kids,” said Seville.
Single dads aren’t always in high demand in the dating world. Don’t let this stop you from looking, but proceed with caution. It's good for you to have a companion through all of the chaos but you have to make sure it's with the right person and you introduce them at the right moment. “If the kids do not have a mom figure then it is important to not bring a woman into their lives until you know she is on track to be your wife. You don't risk them getting close to a woman and losing if it doesn't work out,” said Seville.
Being a single dad is no walk in the park. Raising and relating to a daughter is hard enough, now add a single dad to the mix. For a lot of dads, boys are simple. Ideally, a son handles conflict the same way you would, therefore, you would know how to approach any situation. Daughters are a whole different realm. “If you accept that is the way it is...instead of demanding that they conform to the male way of doing things, you will be more effective and preserve your relationship,” said Seville.
With practice, you’ll get into the groove of taking care of your girls’ needs. Jamie Hickey styles and brushes his daughter’s hair every morning and combs through the tangles and knots at night. Hickey, a single father of two, acquired full custody of his daughters due to their mother’s struggle with addiction. Hickey mastered a simple ponytail instantly but once his girls wanted more advanced styles like French braids, he looked to YouTube for guidance.
Social media is always an excellent resource! There isn’t a question or skill out there that can’t be answered. YouTube is perfect for beginners who have never done hair before or pros who are simply looking for new and exciting styles to try. Hickey had to watch a few videos before allowing his daughter to leave the house wearing his creation on her head. After watching numerous tutorials, Hickey says he’s 1,000 times better than he was when he began navigating the hair world.
Since Hickey is the main constant in his daughter’s lives, they have a very tight-knit bond. On more than one occasion, his oldest daughter has expressed how much she appreciates the time he takes out of his day to sit down with her and do her hair. Hair is a great excuse to check in with her and talk about her day. “Listen to them and take the time to sit and talk with them. You are single-handedly molding their expectations for how they should be treated by their boyfriends and husbands in the future and I want that bar to be as high as possible,” said Hickey. Set their expectations high by being the dad and role model that you want to be. The bond will come naturally.
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