Some problems stump single dads with girl kids

Last Updated : 13 March 2018, 18:57 IST
Last Updated : 13 March 2018, 18:57 IST

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Single parenting is not easy, and fathers raising girls face problems they sometimes have difficulty addressing.

Talking about the transition from girlhood to womanhood is one of them. Spending enough time with them in their growing years is another.

Faizal (names in this case study changed), an architect, has been taking care of his daughter (Irshad) and son (Anam) for 14 years.

"My daughter is in ninth standard and my son in the seventh standard. My wife and I were divorced when they were little, so I have been raising them on my own with help from my parents," he says.

Faizal runs a consultancy and so could keep his work hours flexible. "I always made it a routine to go home early and attend to my children," he explains.  

His daughter is a teen now. "Explaining menstruation was difficult initially. But I took help from my mother and colleagues to make such conversations easier between us," he says.

Their relationship has grown and they talk about everything now. "I knew that I had to make her life comfortable. I buy her sanitary napkins every month, so I had to make it not awkward for myself first," he says.  

Faizal enjoys shopping for Irshad. Recalling the time initial years when he became a single parent, he says, "I remember taking her to the salon for haircuts. She was very cranky and wouldn't sit quietly."

He would take her back home and give her a haircut.

"I would watch YouTube videos and experiment my skills on her. Thankfully my haircuts all turned out fine. In fact, I cut her hair till she was about eight," he says.  

Shibu Arakkal, photo artist, says his rule number one is to be honest.

"Everyone who knows me tells me my parenting style is different. I don't believe in babying my daughter or insulting her intelligence," he says.

He makes sure he doesn't lie about anything. "This has given her the assurance she can talk to me about anything and everything," he says.  

"Zarah is nine-years-old and she is one of the most intelligent kids I know. We have conversations about the big bang theory, the environment and even philosophical topics," he says.  

When they moved into a new apartment recently, Zarah went about decluttering her closet. She gave away many things she wasn't using anymore.

"I hadn't told her to do any of that; this was completely her own idea. That's when I realised that most parents tend to just teach their kids. We have a lot to learn from them too," he adds.

Dr Sridevi J, consultant psychiatrist at Abhaya Hospital, says, "When the father is the primary caretaker and daughters are growing up, there are times both are uncomfortable about opening up. When it comes to a developing body, girls tend to find it easier to talk to another woman."  

She says fathers can suggest a motherly figure in their circle to do the talking.

"Communication and finding the balance to be able to converse comfortably helps grow the bond between a father and daughter. That's what any parent should aim for," she says.

Don't discriminate
"I make sure that I treat both my son and daughter the same. We love playing football together. We go swimming and solve puzzles," says Faizal.

Be a dad first,  friend next
You don't have to sympathise  in every situation. Be strict, let  them know you are the parent.
And when given a chance, they  will surprise you by being the mature one," Shibu says.

And take help
If a father sees the need for professional help, he shouldn't hesitate. "It's okay to come in for a couple of counselling sessions and find out the root cause of the child's' problem.The parent may need professional help too," says Dr Sridevi.

Published 13 March 2018, 13:32 IST

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