On Being a Father of Only Daughters: Dispatches from a Dad of Girls

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Goofy GirlsIt was some time in the fall of 2002 (I think?) that my wife and I found out we were having a baby girl. I was excited as I’d always wanted a little girl—a daddy’s girl. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I wanted a little girl, but it didn’t matter. We were having a baby girl and I was excited! When our little bundle of joy (Maddi) arrived in the spring of 2003, I was smitten right away. In fact, she had me wrapped around her little finger from day one. I would have bought her a pony if she had the ability to ask for one.

Two years later, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our second child. I wanted to know what we were having—I needed to prepare myself mentally in case we were having a boy. You see, I’m a person of habit and of a one-track mind. By this point, I was used to raising a girl and felt comfortable in my role. If we had a boy…well, that made me nervous. Do you change your approach in relating with a boy? Would it be a challenge to raise a girl and a boy—a sort of disjointed approach? (Note, these are questions from a still fairly young parent.) But…we decided to be surprised (well, my wife wanted to be surprised at the get-go, I eventually came around to wanting to be surprised). I knew that whatever the sex of our baby I was going to love it with all of my heart, but the uncertainty made me nervous.

Our anticipation for the arrival of baby #2 would finally be met in the summer of 2005. As I paced the delivery room that one hot summer day, I became nervous. Raising a child is a significant responsibility—raising two is that much more. Am I going to live up to this responsibility? Also…the question of “What if it’s a boy?” popped into mind again. (Silly question…I know.) My questions quickly vanished, though, with the birth of …girl #2! Our sweet Libby was ushered into the world with great joy. First thought after announcing her name was that I have another girl! And, to be honest, the follow up thought was, “I have two weddings to pay for!”

As I said before, I’m a creature of habit, so it should be no surprise that two years later, Angie and I were expecting our third child. Again, we were going to be surprised on the baby’s gender (despite my best efforts to have the nurse tell me the gender). Though I had a few more years of parenting under my belt, I was still a little nervous about the baby’s gender. This time, though, my concerns were more practical in nature. For instance, we had quite a bit of girls’ clothing—how easy would it be to just hand them down and not buy new clothes for a boy? 😉

What differed this time around, though, were the comments I received. There were those who, upon finding out we were pregnant again, would say, “I bet you’re hoping for that boy!”  Or, “Wow! Two girls?! I bet you want a boy now!” I wasn’t sure how to answer these questions; I was happy with whatever the Lord blessed us with. But, I rather liked being a dad of girls. I know the motives behind the questions were good-natured and well-intended, but I didn’t really see why it was necessary that a dad “had to have” a son. The small rebel in me wanted to have another girl just to go against the perceived notion that a dad had to have a son—as if one is less of a father if he didn’t have one to carry on the family name, to do “guy stuff” with, etc.

They were so young!Well, baby #3 arrived in the summer of 2007, and Angie and I were three-for-three. We had our little Emma! I was a dad of all girls, and man! I was proud! As soon as I announced Emma’s name, I thought, “I’m a dad of another girl!” And, in full disclosure, I literally followed up that thought with another, “I have three weddings to pay for.” Weddings aside, though, I basked in the joy of having another daddy’s girl—something only a dad of girls can understand.

So, what is the moral of the story? Is it to say that I (like all dads of only girls) am in a more privileged position than other dads? Is it to set myself apart from other dads? Or, is it to rebel against some perceived notion of real fatherhood? No, no, and no. Rather, my point in writing this post is to share that being a dad of only girls is a great joy.

Though I don’t have a son, I’ve been able to do those activities typically relegated to dad-son activities. My girls enjoy (granted, up to a point) LSU sports. I’ve taken my girls fishing, golf ball hunting, and fossil finding. My girls have participated in volleyball and basketball. All three of my daughters have played with my old Hot Wheels, many times choosing my Hot Wheels over playing with their dolls and dollhouse. They have spent countless hours building with Legos. Further, they have shown interest in studying history, math, art, baking (hopefully philosophy and theology J )…. I want them to discover what interests them so that they can utilize their gifts given by God.
Maddi, Libby, and Emma 2016In short, being a dad of only girls does not limit what I can do with them. I’m not relegated to playing dolls and house (though I have done that). Being a dad of only girls means just that – I am a dad…of girls. I don’t stop being who I am. I don’t have to suspend my interests because they are “boy” interests. Instead, I share my interests with them because it is through those opportunities that they can learn what they like or dislike. Further, by experiencing activities typically relegated to guys, my girls won’t be wandering into a foreign land once they begin dating (*sigh* I don’t want to think about that) and eventually get married. Football, baseball, basketball, fishing, etc. won’t be a foreign language to them; they’ll be able to hold their own.

Being a dad of girls does not mean you have to change who you are. Let your girls know you, in part, through your interests and activities. You are not “missing out” if you don’t have a son. Instead, you have gained a gift that only be obtained by having a daughter. You gain a new perspective on what it means to be a man (for instance, the moment you have a daughter, you quickly foster your instinct to protect). You also have one more reason to strive to be a better man—you want to be a better man for your wife; when you gain a daughter, you want to be a better man that much more.

Lastly, though you don’t have to change who you are, you find that you change nonetheless. I’ve often shared how Angie has made me into a better man; she has a knack for challenging me in areas of my life that need strengthening. Daughters have a similar effect. Indeed, my wife and daughters have a keen sense of seeing me for who I am—encouraging me when I need it and challenging me when I need to grow. I have far to grow—I fail more often than not, but I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I would not be who I am today if it were not for my wife and my three daughters.

 

 

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