Being a father that lives with and raises girls

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It’s no revelation; I am a father raising girls. If I put my wife into the mix, this means I am the only male living in my household.

So what’s it like being the only man in my house and the main carer for the two youngest ones? Well, for me it’s just…normal.

The other day I made a small but candid comment in a blog post I wrote about fathers raising sons. I happened to say that I didn’t think I’d be very good at raising boys.

I was very challenged on this point by Andy Harris who writes the blog Always Time for Biscuits. Mr Harris sent me a tweet asking why the skills I had built up raising daughters wouldn’t be transferable. He has a point, many of the skills would be.

daughters, fathers, raising girls
This is a photograph of a couple getting married. If there’s one difference between having daughters and sons, it’s that tradition dictates that I, as father of the bride, must pay for their weddings. I have two daughters. This could ruin me.

That said, I still think that raising boys would be very different. With five years’ experience of raising daughters, I genuinely think I’d be on a steep learning curve if I suddenly found myself looking after a male child.

Just a few weeks after our first child was born, we went on an NCT reunion with all the couples in our group (thankfully this was the only such event we had to endure). Even at that early stage I noticed a huge difference between the boys and girls. The boys had a voracious hunger and were constantly demanding the breast while the girls were more easy going.

When our eldest was at nursery the boys were much rougher in the way they played with each other than the girls. Now Helen is at school, I’ve discovered the girls of her age group are, almost without exception, one reading stage ahead of the boys. The girls just get on and learn while the boys want to play.

That’s not, by the way, a criticism of the boys. They’re reception age so should want to play. All things considered, they’ve probably got the better idea!

I was occasionally asked if I’d like a son when my wife was pregnant with baby number two. I always felt like there was some invisible force guiding me to say “yes” because, you know, it’s apparently mega important you have a male heir to ensure your family name doesn’t die out. The thing is, I don’t believe in that rubbish.

When I responded to the question, I ignored the guiding force and said I would feel blessed no matter what we had. Although that statement was true, I was apprehensive at the thought of having a son because my experience to date had been with raising a girl.

My mother lived in a similar situation to me. After remarrying she had two further sons and lived solely with men. Now I’m older I can see that it wasn’t always easy for her and that she missed female company.

Who knows, as I get older maybe I will miss having another man around the house. I can’t, however, ever see myself thinking that way.

Are you the only person in your household of your gender? What’s your story and does it ever cause you any concerns?


12 thoughts on “Being a father that lives with and raises girls”

  1. I felt you were doing yourself a disservice and I still do. You adapted to raising a girl (something you had never done before) and you would do the same if you had a boy. You mentioned your skills with your daughters hair on twitter. I am making the assumption you weren’t a hairdresser earlier in your career so this is an example of how adaptable you are. When George was born many people assumed I was happy to have a son and not daughter but it isn’t true. I have always found the idea that men can’t relate to their daughters because they are girls ridiculous. You learn, you adapt and you love.

    1. When you put it like that Andy, you may very well be correct; I had made massive adaptations to my life once before and adapting to having a son wouldn’t be anything like becoming a father for the first time. I wouldn’t describe it as a lack of confidence, but I am just familiar with raising girls. I’m also not all that interested in stereotypical male pastimes like football (…though I hope you’ll be glad to hear I have a passing interest in rugby). I think I’ve always had a fear I’d have to feign interest in such things for a son. Ironic really as my eldest likes all the things her males friends do!

  2. Thanks for the post John. I have two (soon to be three) daughters and have had that line of questioning both times about do I want a boy. Well the honest answer was I wanted to girls. My wife wanted a boy desperately but for me finding out each time i was having a girl was a relief. Its as if the pressure was off. May be its a self confidence thing but not not being that direct male role model meant the pressure was off. I love being a dad to girls. They eat mud and kick a ball as well as the next boy but for me there is something very special about being the only male in the house 🙂

    Thanks again for the post 🙂

    1. Thanks for your kind words. I hadn’t thought of the role model thing but that’s a very good point. I also agree with you; my kids will have a go at anything a boy does (and I encourage it).

  3. As a mum who wanted a boy but got a girl, I love having a daughter and couldn’t imagine having to adjust to having a boy. My sister, a mum of a boy, now can’t imagine having a girl – she says she knows what she’s doing with boys and is concerned she’d have to relearn with a girl. So I guess we all get used to what we’ve got.

    1. I think, Sue, that’s largely where my reservations come from; IE I know what I was doing with a girl. I also absolutely zero interest in those stereotypical male pastimes of football etc.

  4. I’m quite certain that you would raise a son much as you are able to raise daughters. We have one of each. When pregnant with my second, people did seem to assume I’d want a boy as we already had our daughter, but this wasn’t the case – as you say, I’d have felt blessed with a healthy baby, gender unimportant.

  5. What a great post John and I think its great that you have so much experience under your belt, with regards to your daughters. I have 3 sons and 2 girls and found due to how I was raised {by my army Dad} that oddly I relate more to the male population. Which leaves me at a bit of a loss with my daughters. I’m not a tea party Mum, I’m a ‘want to get outside and get messy Mum!’ and my eldest daughter isn’t as up for that as my sons are.

    So any tips for raising girls are greatly received, lol! Thanks so much for linking up to this weeks #MMWBH x

  6. I’m the opposite to you John, I’m the only female in our house. I have 2 boys and the hubby and they’re all gamers, they love computer games and the youngest loves football, playing not watching. I love having boys although sometimes I don’t like the messy play.

    I think that I agree with you in that you’d be slightly nervous if you had a boy, I’d be the same if I had a girl. Being familiar with raising boys it would be a whole new experience and quite daunting. However, as Andy Harris said – you adapt. This parenting lark is just a great big learning curve anyway! #MMWBH

    Morgan x

  7. I totally get where your coming from. In my opinion all that you said is true but there are always exceptions to the rule. I have one of each and I say all the time if I had my daughter first I’d not have had another child. She is loud and strong and confident like her brother but shes more contented to be on her own and do things. My son demands more one to one attention. And while he’s loud and confident he as a soft sensitive side that I don’t think my daughter has or maybe she;s too young for me to see it.They are 3 yrs and 13 months old. Now that my girl is here i enjoy her I’m no longer the odd one out :0)

    Your feelings may never change because clearly what you have works for you and you’re happy. May it always be like that

  8. Thanks for pointing me to this post, as you know I have both and can assure you there isn’t really much of a difference in the raising of them (although the little lady in my life has me wrapped around her finger more).

    But as the boys are not with me full time and my mother lives with us I too am usually in a house of all women (3), some extra testosterone when the boys are over is very handy 🙂

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